The deafness of a dog could slow down more than one owner in his desire to educate his dog. But you should know that there are tips and tools to make training a deaf dog easier.
Let’s find out together how to realize that your dog is deaf, how to teach your pet things and, above all, what tools can help you in your daily life to create a connection between you and your doggie.
The origins of deafness in dogs
Deafness is a handicap, and as for humans, it can sometimes be explained simply (a badly treated ear infection, a hygiene problem, etc.), and sometimes it is simply not explained. We say that it is genetic or of unknown origin.
It should also be noted that some breeds are more prone to deafness than others (the best known being the Dalmatian and the Colley dogs with a merle gene). Furthermore, it has been proven that breeds with a dominant white coat are more susceptible to this handicap.
Do not confuse a disobedient dog with a deaf dog.
Deafness can often have a “good back”… And yes, some masters resign themselves when they don’t manage to educate their dog and often go as far as saying that “it’s because my little ball of fur is deaf, poor thing… That’s why she doesn’t answer when I call her…”. Let’s be serious for two minutes; a dog that doesn’t listen to you is not necessarily a dog that is deaf. That would be too easy, and believe me; there would be a lot of deafness in canines with this logic!
Signs of deafness in dogs
To spot if your dog is deaf, you must first consult your veterinarian, especially if you have any doubt! He will be able to do all the necessary tests to diagnose such a handicap.
Here are a few signs that could give you a clue:
Your dog never returns when you call him away.
Your dog never turns around when you call him.
Your dog always sleeps very soundly and is rarely awakened by unusual noises (vacuum cleaner, door slamming, a child crying, etc.)
Your dog sometimes reacts aggressively when you touch him without him seeing you coming towards him.
On the other hand, once your dog looks at you, he is very attentive to you, your gestures and your posture.
How to train a deaf dog?
Studies have already shown that dogs are more receptive to pointing, i.e. gestures that indicate directions. And I have experienced this myself with my dog, H, a Border Collie, especially during our herding training.
I wanted to give you this information because it is crucial in the education of a deaf dog: it is your hands, your posture, your gestures, etc., that will be your best learning tools.
The basic indications to teach your deaf dog using your gestures and your posture
To teach your dog the “sit” indication: simply place your dog in front of you, stand up straight (always stand up straight like I when asking your dog for a static position, deaf or not). Then, move with your hand from his nose to his tail. Spontaneously, your dog will follow your hand and will be forced to sit to continue following your movement. For some dogs, pointing your finger in the air will be enough.
If your dog backs up instead of sitting, place his back against a wall. And if your dog doesn’t follow your hand, feel free to arm yourself with a treat or favourite toy. Of course, when your dog sits, reward him with the treat or toy if you’ve used it or with a warm pat. Of course, you will understand that verbal rewards are not welcome as they will have no impact on your dog.
To teach your dog to “lie down”:
- Proceed in the same way as the “sit” indication, i.e. by “luring” your dog.
- Place him in a sitting position, and then make a downward movement with your hand from his nose to his two front legs.
- Be careful not to place your hand too far forward, as this may cause your dog to rise to follow your hand.
To teach your dog to heel: place your arm at your side, with your finger pointing at your feet. You can also use a meaningful gesture by bending down to draw your dog to you. You can also tap on your leg to increase his interest. If your dog doesn’t come back, do as all dogs do (deaf or not), walk away in the opposite direction.
Of course, if your dog is deaf and has not yet acquired recall, avoid releasing him without security in unfamiliar places. It is better to tie him to a large lanyard to avoid any incident.
In general, all my advice is adaptable to all dogs; whether they are deaf or not, it is always very important to accompany a word with a gesture. For example, when I go for a walk, my dog sometimes doesn’t hear the sound of my voice at all because we communicate in silent mode.
How do you get the attention of a deaf dog so that he can follow our gestures?
I strongly advise you to get a specific collar for deaf dogs that sends vibrations on your dog’s neck from a distance.
This collar is not painful for your dog, but it is nevertheless necessary to set up positive conditioning work before all. And yes, when you buy a specific collar for deaf dogs, it is not “magic”; you still have to create the association “vibration = treat (for example)” in your dog.
To do this, nothing could be simpler; you just have to give a treat to each vibration you send to your dog’s neck. This way, he will assimilate the vibration to the fact that you are giving him a treat.
Of course, this learning process must be done progressively, in a calm and serene environment for your dog (your living room, for example) and above all by remaining patient and in the process of success, whether for you or your dog.