Can you train a deaf dog? Never fear, the answer is yes! Here at East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, AZ, we understand that the needs of every animal are individual. Because no dog’s needs are the same, there are various roadblocks to training in each case. Still, we’re confident that deaf dogs can be trained as long as you are able to adopt an attitude of patience and cooperation.
While the training process will differ between a deaf dog and a non-deaf dog, the core principles of dog training will remain the same. The most commonly accepted method of training dogs is one of positive reinforcement. Associating good behavior with treats or other rewards teaches your dog to work toward a goal. Sticking to a regimen of positive reinforcement has proven effective for all dogs, including deaf ones.
Commands for a Deaf Dog
Gestures. Your first instinct to get a dog to come is probably to use the word “come.” Obviously, a dog who can’t hear will have trouble with this approach. However, there are nonverbal ways to get your dog’s attention. You can try waving your hand to create a gesture your dog will come to associate with “coming”. Then you can do the same for other commands, such as “sitting”. Experiment with gestures that make sense to you. Make sure each gesture is distinct, so the pup doesn’t confuse one command with another. Be consistent with what you do so that your dog learns each gesture without confusion.
Touch. Because they are so sensitive to touch, deaf dogs can come to associate a gentle tap with a certain command. For instance, a pat on the head could mean “sit”, or a tap on the ground, “down”. If you choose this method, be sure to use caution, as you don’t want to startle your dog—keep all tapping light and gentle.
Vibration. Deaf dogs, like deaf people, are sensitive to vibrations. A stomp on the ground will work as a nonverbal command.
KONG Training for Deaf Dogs
We’ve spoken previously on our blog about the wonder that is the KONG toy, but we haven’t even started on how effective it is for deaf dogs! KONG toys have proven to be helpful in the dog training process, and they are enjoyed by dogs of all breeds, with or without special needs. Because the remaining senses of deaf dogs are more powerful, KONG toys are exceptionally useful. A deaf doggo can feel the pleasant squeak of the toy in her mouth and taste the delicious food stuffed in the center. She doesn’t need the ability to hear to appreciate this mighty toy.
The Most Important Step
Just remember that every dog, hearing impaired or otherwise, will present difficulties when it comes to training. Don’t let your dog’s disability define her. Instead, think of all the things your dog can still do without the ability to hear! Our team at East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, AZ is confident you’ll have your deaf dog properly trained in no time.
Photo by Chiemsee2016 on Pixaby (11/6/2020)