You Said What?

September 24th 2014

Living with a deaf dog

One of our clients Jessica shares her story about discovering her puppy was deaf and what happened next…

We brought our dogo argentino puppy, Jade, home when she was eight weeks old. She was very timid and shy at first, loved to be cuddled and always had to be near us. She quickly settled in and became a normal, active, crazy puppy. Everyone who met Jade commented on how smart she was and how attentive she was (her constantly being at my side never changed).

We started puppy class at 10 weeks and she quickly became the trainers favorite. They always used her in the demonstrations and would comment on how quickly she picked things up. She was fantastic in class, but at home we were beginning to get frustrated. By this time Jade was approaching 12 to 13 weeks she still wasn’t getting some things. She didn’t respond to her name, she wasn’t picking up cues from other animals, she was biting and she wasn’t listening to basic commands. Her always having to be at our side was initially cute, but was becoming less so as we were always tripping over her or stepping on her paws.


Signs our dog was deaf

Then we started noticing things that made us begin to think she was deaf. She didn’t acknowledge the doorbell or other dogs barking while we were walking. My boyfriend was getting upset she didn’t notice when he would come home from work. We did some research online which suggested some simple home tests which we tried and Jade failed them all.


How to train a dog who cannot hear

We spoke with our trainer (who was very surprised, she hadn’t picked up on it either). We quickly adjusted our training method and began using hand signals, Jade picked those up in a matter of minutes. I did a lot of research on deaf dogs, found some really great sites with great tips from other owners of deaf dogs and some really terrible sites that suggested deaf dogs should just be destroyed because they were “untrainable.” We were very lucky to have a great group of trainers who went out of their way to help us and Jade. Within days of finding out she was deaf and adjusting our training, we had a different dog. I think she was as relieved as we were that we could communicate with her.

We learned that dogs are masters at reading body language, which is why she always did such a good job at puppy class, she was always focused on us there and was in tune with what we wanted her to do. Home was a different story so we started making an effort to make sure our body language was giving her the right message and quickly learned. We also learned that deaf dogs often sit on their peoples feet or are “velcroed” to their side so that they know if you leave the room or walk away from them since they can’t hear you leave.

We started making sure Jade knew if we were leaving the room which helped make her less anxious. Training a deaf dogs has been a huge commitment but she has already made amazing progress and she is only 4 1/2 months old now. We have an incredibly smart, sweet and happy puppy (who is still quite often glued to me) who we wouldnt change for a dog who could hear. We still have a lot of training to do but we have found some great resources to help us along the way.


Helpful resources for deaf dog owners

Hear! Hear! A guide to training a deaf dog by Barry Eaton

Deafdogs.org

deaf dog network

Jes

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