Although relatively rare, some dogs are born deaf or lose hearing just as humans do. The cause of deafness in canines could be from any number of things such as genetics but even age or chronic ear infections could cause some loss of hearing or complete deafness.
The most common type of deafness found in dogs is congenital, specifically connected to pigmentation. Dogs with pigmented skin to include West Highland Terriers, Samoyeds, and White German Shepherds are at risk but the one breed notorious for deafness, even dogs with excellent bloodlines is the Dalmatian.
If a dog has hearing loss in just one ear while being able to hear completely in the other ear the type of deafness is known as being unilaterally whereas hearing loss in both ears, often complete hearing loss is bilaterally.
Obviously, if you suspect your pet may have some degree of hearing loss it would be important to have him checked by a veterinarian. If you have suspicions, you could perform a few simple tests at home first such as yelling the dog’s name, blowing a whistle, squeaking a toy, banging on pots, or shaking a can filled with pebbles to see if you get a response.
If you find the dog does not react, reacts very little, or has a delay in response then hearing loss on some level would likely be the problem. The veterinarian would be able to confirm what you suspect but also check the dog’s overall health to make sure nothing else is wrong.
With a clean bill of health, you would be able to proceed with deaf dog training on a number of levels. After all, just because a dog is deaf does not mean he would not have bad habits or poor behaviors so just as with any dog, training would be imperative.
Without doubt, training a dog that cannot hear is more difficult than a hearing dog, even when using deaf dog training methods. The greatest challenge has to do with communication but as you will see from the pointers below, there are ways to work around this situation.
However, no matter how simple the commands or even the length of time it takes for training, you have to develop a means of communication that would be easily understood.
Commitment and Patience – For starters, training a deaf dog would require a more intense level of commitment, as well as patient but the results would pay off in the end. You may have a dog that learns quickly but by expecting deaf dog training would take time then you would not be upset or discouraged if the process takes time.
Hand Signals – Some people choose deaf dog training that uses actual human sign language while others prefer signals created specifically for canine commands. Keep in mind, the hand signals used are not as important as making them simple and being 100% consistent. Of course, any hand signals used should be unique to prevent your dog from becoming confused with hand movements commonly used in daily life.
Repetition – The last pointer we wanted to mention when it comes to deaf dog training is that you have to be repetitive. Using the same signals over and over will help your dog relate the signal to the command. Some dogs pick up on hand signals quickly while others take longer but using repetition would certainly make the process easier and less stressful on both you and your pet.
Professional Training – Remember, if you have trouble with deaf dog training at home, you could always have the dog trained by a professional. There are some amazing trainers in the United States that specialize in training of this type, trainers that use proven methods that are safe but also effective.
In fact, many people who offer professional deaf dog training get results extremely fast because they understand the problem and know what does and does not work so time is not wasted. While you might pay a little more for specialized training, having an obedient dog but more importantly, one you could control for safety purposes would be money well spent.