Thousands of deaf dogs are needlessly euthanized each year simply because they can’t hear, and a dog that can’t hear can be a tough sale at a shelter. Most people in the market to adopt a dog don’t realize that deaf dogs are completely trainable, and many people believe the host of myths that surround deaf dogs.
Contrary to urban legend, deaf dogs aren’t more easily startled and aggressive, they can socialize easily with children, they aren’t more likely to be hit by cars, they don’t need a “hearing dog,” and they’re not difficult to train.
A deaf dog does not mean an unsocial one. Believe it or not, dogs “talk” to each other primarily through body language–sniffing, facial expression, and posturing. Training methods for teaching a deaf dog are different than those for dogs that can hear, but much of the process is the same. Here are some tips courtesy of the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund:
1. Purchase an American Sign Language pocketbook. It will open up a world of words for you and your dog. Your deaf dog is going to surprise you. All that’s happening is that she is learning signs (and facial expressions) instead of words. The first word signs you should concentrate on are sit, down, stay, come, no and stop.
2. Keep your dog on a leash when walking. The leash, and a fenced yard or stake and lead are necessities with the deaf dog. Buy a dog tag stating, “(dog’s name) is deaf. Please hold and call (your name/phone)”.
3. Put a bell on your dog. Hunting dog bells are good, but if you think too bulky, use one of those loud Christmas bells women wear as necklaces during the holidays. This allows you to hear your dog when he is on the move. Good luck when he falls asleep somewhere out of the way and you can’t find him.
4. To get your dog’s attention, thump on the floor with your fist or foot or wave. Some people use a flashlight or a laser light. If your dog is outside at night and you want to call him in, turn your porch light off and on.
For the complete list of tips visit the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund.