How To Train A Deaf Dog
If you need to learn how to train a deaf dog, make sure you’re prepared for it. Living with a deaf dog requires some special considerations. You’ll need to take measures to keep your dog safe and help him adjust to his condition. Also keep in mind that you won’t be able to rely on traditional verbal commands for training, so you’ll need to use alternative methods. To train a deaf dog, you will need dog treats.
- Get your dog’s attention. Since a deaf dog won’t hear you call him, you’ll need to depend on other methods. Gently touch him, turn the lights on and off, throw a small ball in front of him or stomp on the floor to get him to notice you.
- Pair unexpected touches with treats. A deaf dog can startle easily when touched if he didn’t notice that someone was near him. You can desensitize him to the startle effect by walking up behind him, lightly touching him and giving him a treat right away. This will cause him to associate unexpected touches with something desirable. If he’s asleep, put your hand in front of his nose so he can smell you then gently pet his back until he wakes up and sees you.
- Use hand signals instead of verbal commands. All dogs rely mainly on body language for communication, so the fact that your deaf dog can’t hear verbal commands won’t hinder his training. You can create your own or use American Sign Language. Decide which sign you want to use for each different command and use them consistently. Give the hand signal then reward your dog with a treat when he obeys.
- Keep training sessions short and upbeat. Limit training to no more than ten minutes at a time a few times a day. Don’t end sessions when your dog fails to perform the expected behavior. Have him do something he knows how to do and end the session on a successful note instead.
- Introduce non-food rewards. Mix up the rewards you give your dog when he successfully obeys a command instead of only giving him treats. Although deaf dogs can’t hear praise, they respond just as well to toys or petting as rewards. As your dog becomes better at obeying hand signals, you can gradually eliminate food rewards and just pet him.
Always keep your deaf dog on a leash or in an enclosed yard when he’s outdoors. If he runs off, you can’t shout a verbal command to get him to stop or come back to you. If he’s a jumper or escape artist, watch him the entire time he’s in the fenced yard or use a leash. Put a bell collar on your dog so you’ll know where he is at all times.