How do you communicate with a deaf dog?

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Just because a dog is deaf, doesn’t make him any less of a wonderful pet, any less trainable or any less communicative!

Deafness in dogs can be either a temporary or permanent condition and it can affect one or both ears. Some causes of deafness include a build-up of earwax, infections, congenital conditions, old age or injury.

If you suspect a problem like this, take your dog to the vet who will perform a complete examination of your dog, which will include a hearing test.

The following is a general guideline of how you can communicate with a deaf dog:

  • First and foremost, always use love and patience. Trust and bonding is especially important with a deaf dog, because it will make it that much easier to have him want to look at you and make eye contact. A deaf dog won’t be able to hear your voice, so he’ll have to look at your face and hands to get his instructions.
  • Use treats and physical praise, such as petting and smiling during training sessions. If the dog is a little hungrier when training, he or she will be very interested in the treat—which equals more interest in the training, and better results!
  • Deaf dogs tend to startle a little more easily because they can’t hear people or other animals approaching. Let your dog know you are in the room by gently tapping his shoulder. Sometimes, a vibration from a loud stomp will also get your dog’s attention.
  • Because your dog can be startled easily, you want to avoid the development of aggressive tendencies. Be sure a deaf dog is well trained, especially around other animals.
  • Train your dog to understand hand signals. It’s a good idea to use signs that can easily be seen from far away.
  • A flashlight or penlight can also be used to get a deaf dog’s attention.
  • If you have children, be sure to teach them how to gently get the dog’s attention. Since they tend to startle easily, snapping is a common concern. Kids need to be aware that arm waving, yelling, crying and rapid movement can sometimes be perceived as a threat to a deaf dog.
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