Training is an important way for dogs to get mentally stimulated and spend time with their owners. This is especially true for deaf dogs.
To train a deaf dog, you must use positive reinforcement. This will allow you to clearly communicate to your dog when they do something correctly. You will also need to use visual signals instead of vocal commands.
This article will go over the basic steps you should follow when training a deaf dog. We will also walk you through some of the easiest tricks to start off with. We will discuss some potential causes of deafness in dogs as well as the importance of training deaf dogs. We hope that this article will help you build a strong bond with your deaf dog to help keep them happy and safe.
As a long-time dog owner and lover, I am going to walk you through the process of training a deaf dog. Training a deaf dog might not be as intuitive as training a hearing dog, but it is not impossible or difficult. Training is especially important for deaf dogs in case they ever get away from their owners or are in a dangerous situation. Going through this training process with your deaf dog will also be sure to bring the two of you closer together. Let’s get started!
How Do You Train A Deaf Dog?
Though it may seem like a big challenge, training a deaf dog uses largely the same techniques as training hearing dogs. The biggest difference between training deaf and hearing dogs is that you won’t use a spoken command when training deaf dogs. You will instead use hand signals.
When training hearing dogs, it is usually best to teach the dog the motions of the trick and reward them for it before ever using a command word. This allows them to focus completely on learning the motions. Then, once they master the trick, they can learn a command that will tell them when they should do it.
The same process can and should be applied to deaf dogs. You will want to use motivators like treats and toys to get them to do the motion of the trick. Then, you will assign a hand signal to each trick instead of a command word.
The training process might take longer for deaf dogs than hearing dogs, and you may want to start off with simple commands rather than anything complicated. However, with lots of practice, deaf dogs can be trained just as well as hearing dogs.
Find A Way To Get Your Dog’s Attention
One of the most important things to learn with your deaf dog is how to get its attention. This is they key to teaching them any tricks or obedience commands. You won’t be able to use your sign language or other visual commands with a deaf dog unless they know to pay attention to you.
You will need to find a way to get your dog’s attention. You should probably pick one or two ways to get their attention and stick to them so that they don’t get confused by multiple methods. Many people choose to stomp their foot on the ground to get their attention. The vibrations on the floor will reach the dog and let them know that you want their attention.
Other people choose to use some type of flashlight to get their attention. You can practice with your dog so that they look to you when you flicker a flashlight on and off. Some people choose to use a vibrating collar. These types of collars are different from collars that shock a dog. With a vibrating collar, you will be able to turn on the vibrations with the touch of a button. This should make your dog alert.
With any of these methods, give your dog a treat when they look at you. Over time, they will learn to look at you in response to whichever method you choose.
Use Positive Reinforcement
When training a dog, whether they are deaf or not, it is important to use positive reinforcement. If you punish your deaf dog for doing something wrong, they will likely not understand why they are being punished, and won’t learn from the experience. Instead, it is best to reward good behaviors and ignore bad behaviors.
Each time your dog does something that you want them to do, be sure to give them praise and even a treat. They will start to learn that when they pay attention to you, they will be rewarded. This is a great way to get started with any training and is the best way to get your dog to bond with you and begin to trust you.
Additionally, if you use treats or food as a reward and motivator during training, your dog will be much more likely to pay attention to you than if you weren’t holding anything. If your dog is deaf, you won’t be able to call their name to get their attention. By always holding treats or food, you can make sure that your dog is paying attention to the task at hand.
Use Visual Signals Instead Of Commands
When you are training a deaf dog, you won’t be able to use vocal commands. Instead, you will need to develop hand signals or other visual ways of communicating to your dog what you want them to do. There are a lot of examples out there for which hand signals to use for certain tricks.
Basic obedience tricks are probably the first ones that you will try to teach your dog. You will be able to choose whichever hand signals you prefer for your tricks and obedience commands. D For Dog has some examples of hand signals to use for common commands.
When teaching any trick, you will want to start with getting their attention using your preferred method. Then, you can teach the trick. Once they complete the action that you want them to do, you can positively reinforce the behavior with praise and a treat. You will then be able to pair the action with a visual sign as a command. With practice, they will learn to do the trick when you give the signal.
Easiest Tricks To Teach A Deaf Dog
While it is possible to teach advanced tricks to a deaf dog, it might be best to start with easier tricks at first. Many people recommend starting with passive training. This means teaching your dog commands and signals for things that they do every day.
For example, you can give your dog hand signals for food or eating, water, or walking. These are things that they will do and experience every day. By teaching them signals, they will start to learn their routine and you can build a base for visual communication.
Passive training can also refer to giving signals for things the dog does on their own, like sitting or laying down. When you find them in these positions, give them a hand signal and a treat. Over time, they will learn to do these things on command.
Once you have determined the best way to get your dog’s attention, you can start to work on active training as well. You can start with active training methods for tricks that you might already be passively training, like sit or lay down.
This will help them learn the process of practicing a new trick. Once they master the process, you can move on to teaching more complicated tricks and commands.
Other important things to teach your dog are basic obedience commands like stay, come, and stop. To teach these, you can follow steps that you find in books or online. Just remember that instead of a verbal command, you will need to pair the dog’s actions with a visual command.
How Common Is Deafness in Dogs?
Like humans, some dogs are simply born deaf. Other times, dogs develop deafness in response to an injury, loud noise, or old age. Certain dog breeds are more prone to developing deafness than others. If a dog is born deaf, the owner will likely pick up on this when the dog is a puppy. The puppy will probably not react to noises or voices, which will be a significant indicator of deafness.
Dog owners should also be aware that their dogs could develop deafness as they age. If your dog experiences a loud noise, infection, or injury, they could suddenly experience hearing loss. If this happens to your dog, you might notice it right away since there will probably be a big change in your dog’s behavior.
Dogs often lose their hearing over time as they get older as well. This will be harder to notice, so you should always be looking out for signs of deafness in your dog, like these:
- Not coming when called or not responding to commands. This is likely one of the easiest signs of deafness in a dog to identify. If over time, your dog stops listening to your commands, you might think that they are being disobedient. It could just be that they can’t hear you as well anymore.
- Getting startled easily. If you notice that your dog seems to jump more when you approach them from behind, this could be an indicator that they couldn’t hear you coming and were startled when you appeared.
- Increased barking. If your dog was once used to hearing themselves bark and then loses their ability to hear, they might try barking a lot to try and figure out what is going on. Excessive barking is a sign that your dog has noticed that something is wrong and is trying to learn what it is.
If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it could be that your dog is losing its hearing. It will be a good idea to take your dog to the vet for an official diagnosis and advice. They will be able to guide you through the process of helping your dog cope with losing its hearing. This is especially important if your dog seems to lose its hearing suddenly, as this could be a sign of infection or injury.
You can also start to train your dog using the tips we’ve outlined in this article to help keep your dog safe and happy.
Importance of Teaching Obedience to Deaf Dogs
While teaching fun tricks can be a great way to bond with your dog, is it extremely important that you start with and focus on obedience commands. This is especially true with deaf dogs. Hearing dogs have some sort of recall, where their owners can call their name or a command from far away and the dog will respond and return to the owner. Deaf dogs can’t do this crucial command.
This lack of recall in deaf dogs can be extremely dangerous in certain situations. If a deaf dog ever becomes frightened and escapes from home or their owner, it is much harder for them to respond to their owner or find their way home on their own.
Teaching basic obedience is the best way to prevent a situation like this from happening. When you teach basic obedience to a deaf dog, they will be more likely to consistently look to their owner for commands or general communication. This continual check-in with their owners is an important part of keeping the dog safe.
If you have a deaf dog, work on obedience commands together first. This will help to strengthen your bond while also teaching the dog to check in with you periodically. They will begin to see you as their owner and the person that gives commands. This behavior is instrumental in keeping them safe.
While you are training your deaf dog and even once they are completely obedient, you must not let them off of their leash unless you are in a fully fenced area. Even with perfect obedience, dogs can get scared and run away. Without recall, your dog could get into a dangerous situation. To keep them safe, keep them on a leash.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright