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Handling Dogs with Hearing Impairment

Oct 1, 2010

photoAlthough most individuals prefer to get their dogs while they’re still puppies, some choose to adopt grown dogs from animal shelters or rescue groups. This gives unwanted dogs a chance to go to a loving home instead of being put down. However, shelters and rescue groups sometimes face the difficulty of placing dogs with disabilities.

Dogs, like other animals, can experience loss of hearing in one or both ears. It can be inborn or hereditary, or caused by old age, injury, or illness. Some breeds are more prone to hearing impairment, such as the Dalmatian.

People who are looking to adopt might be hesitant to become the owner of a deaf dog. Many think that pooches that are hard of hearing may be impossible to train, but this is usually not the case. On the contrary, studies have proven that dogs that were trained using techniques for deaf dogs respond better than those that were trained using verbal commands.

This is likely due to the fact that canines use expressions and body language to communicate with other pack members. They do not use sound, so it is possible to train hearing-impaired dogs by using visual signals.

Hand signs are extremely effective for training deaf dogs. Since the dog is unable to perceive sound, the owner will have to get his attention some other way, such as gently throwing a small object towards him. When the object hits or is noticed by the dog, the owner should take the chance to catch his attention, then reward him with a treat. This process is to be repeated until the dog is able to react to the object whenever it is tossed. The owner can then come up with different hand gestures for different commands.

If your dog is not responding to sounds and you suspect that he might have hearing problems, you can have him checked by your vet. Puppies that are more than six weeks old can be evaluated using the BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) test.

As previously mentioned, hearing-impaired dogs can be taught, but until your pooch is properly trained, remember to always keep an eye on him and don’t let him wander near busy intersections by himself.

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Comments

One Response to “Handling Dogs with Hearing Impairment”
  1. Mary says:

    I rescued a 2-1/2 year old female, Jack Russell mix, Roxie, who happens to be deaf. We are training her with hand signals. My hearing dog is learning the hand signals as well, just because he is there when Roxie is learning. We’ve had her for about 3 months now and, frankly, I forget she is deaf most of the time. She is attending a companion dog training class. When I introduced her, I gave all the important information about her..name, age, breed, where we got her and then passed to the next owner in the class. The instructor stopped the next person and asked if I had forgotten to mention something. I thought for a minute and said..oh yeah, Roxie is deaf. Don’t let the deafness stop you from rescuing a dog….it really becomes a non-issue once you, the owner, get used to it–it’s not an issue for the dog.

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