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Healthy Dogs

Training and Caring for a Deaf Dog

WebMD discusses how you can train and communicate with a deaf dog using hand signals.
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Can deaf dogs be trained? continued...

The secret, he says, is having a clear hand signal for each action you want the dog to learn. It doesn't matter what they are, he says, as long as you're consistent.

Russell says it's also a myth that deaf dogs are more aggressive. He says any dog, if startled, could bite. He tells clients with deaf puppies to wake them up repeatedly, with a tasty treat in hand. Soon they'll associate being awakened, even if startled, with something good. And if you don't want to startle a sleeping dog, stomp your foot near them or bump the couch or bed they're sleeping on. The vibration usually awakens them, he says.

Other than that, Russell says, people really don't need to make a lot of special adjustments for their deaf pets. And Strain said hearing aids are a waste of time for most deaf dogs.

"Hearing aids only amplify sound, and if there are no nerve cells left to facilitate hearing, amplifying the sound won't help," he says. "Besides, most dogs hate having anything in their ears."

How do I keep my deaf dog safe?

Of course, there are some common-sense steps owners of a deaf dog should take, experts say. The first is keeping the dog on a leash or in a fenced yard for the pet's safety. A deaf dog can't hear a car or other danger coming.

To keep track of your dog, put a bell on her collar, Becker suggests. And put a tag on her that says "Deaf," along with your contact information.

One of the few problems people living with a deaf dog report is getting their pet's attention. Becker says at night it's easy, because deaf dogs can be taught to come in with the flash of a porch light or flashlight.

But during the day it can be harder if the dog is focused on something else. Russell says deaf dogs tend to become so bonded with their owners that they look to them constantly. Newstead says her dogs usually see her if she waves her arms. But she says if they're having a barking frenzy, she sometimes has to go over to them and touch them to get their attention.

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