How Do You Train a Deaf Dog?

Yesterday I wrote about my friend who found out her dog is deaf. She had asked me if I knew anything about training a deaf dog, so I looked into it.

I searched online for resources on the topic, and I also posted a request for help in the forums.

The result? A wealth of information!

Training Techniques

TOUCH

Both the replies in the forum and the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund emphasized how important physical contact, like pats and petting, is to training deaf dogs.

Which makes sense. When one sense is out of commission the others have to come into play more.

By touching your dog a certain way, you can communicate what behavior you expect from your dog right then. Such as touching his rump to indicate he needs to sit, or the top of his head to tell him to stay.

SIGHT

This was the very first one I thought of when Lyn told me about Princess Sophia’s condition. I figured there’d be more usage of hand signals than you might find with a hearing-able dog. There is.

It was suggested humans learn basic American Sign Language (or some equivalent) and use it to teach the dog commands.

Inventing your own signs is also acceptable, but the key is to be consistent in matching signal with meaning to avoid confusing the dog. So just be sure you’re using the same sign every time for whatever command you’re trying to teach.

Also, the use of light, from either flashlights or laser pointers, was recommended as potential “sign language” techniques too.

SMELL

Food and treats make a supreme training tool for any dog.

CRATE TRAINING

Using crate training for deaf dogs is no different than for hearing-able dogs and is equally as effective.

DOG WHISTLES

At first I thought this was an odd suggestion. Whistles mean hearing and how the heck’s a deaf dog going to hear a whistle?

But not all deaf dogs are completely deaf. Some are less hearing impaired than others and can hear the high pitch a dog whistle produces.

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