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Tips about living with a deaf dog.
DepositPhoto: A white Australian Shepherd rescue dog with visual and hearing disabilities due to improper breeding

Keep the Tail Wagging missed Deaf Pet Awareness Week, launched by the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund and Petfinder.  Deaf Pet Awareness Week was in September; 9/24/12-9/28/12 and I was curious about what life is like with a deaf dog. I reached out to the dog lover community and had to smile at the wonderful and helpful responses I received from owners of deaf dogs.

Waking Up with a Deaf Dog

  • I learned that some deaf dogs sleep longer and more deeply than hearing dogs; so it’s paramount to wake your dog gently (especially new puppies).
  • Take the time to get their attention by waiving your hands in front of their nose (gently) until they can smell you and wake up on their own.
  • Or you can gently touch them to wake them.
  • Another great way to get your deaf dog’s attention is by appealing to their sense of smell; use a yummy smelling treat to gently awaken them or gain their attention.
  • Jarring them awake will frighten them and you risk being bitten.

Training a Deaf Dog

Learn and master hand signals and commands and be sure that you trust your use of them before allowing your deaf dog off leash, because they won’t hear you calling their name.

Walking a Deaf Dog

  • Some deaf dogs can hear very different pitches and dog owners won’t know which ones they can hear until in the moment.  Hearing these sounds may cause your dog to run away, so it’s safer to remain in a fenced in area if you’re off leash.

When Your Dog is Losing His Hearing

  • Deaf dogs are just like any other dog, but better, because they don't bark at loud noises, strangers at the door, or other dogs barking on a television program.
  • Dog owners may notice the first signs of their dogs losing their hearing when they stop barking at things that used to trigger them in the past.

Medea | A Deaf Dog Experience

Medea was a lab mix, and her loss of both hearing and sight was so seemingly gradual I almost didn't notice it — and, strangely enough, neither did she. So far as I could tell, in her last year or two she was totally deaf — even a loud noise right near her produced no reaction. The eyesight loss was from cataracts, and she seemed retain some ability to distinguish light and shadow and large, obvious movement, but that was it.

Somehow she adapted so well that her handicap was almost never apparent.

The most notable change from her deafness was that she stopped barking at unfamiliar noises such as strangers walking by our front door — which was no doubt a relief to our neighbors.

~ Bruce Mirken

Keeping Your Deaf Dog Safe

  • It’s important that everyone in the family is on the same page and keeps doors closed and remains aware of where the dog is to avoid locking him in a room (or out of the house).
  • Keep in mind that if your dog is wandering down the road, he may not hear you calling his name and you don’t want to startle him when you catch up to him.
  • Proper training and clear communication is important when raising your deaf dog.

Unique Opportunity Provided by Raising a Deaf Dog

I don’t follow Cesar Milan, but sometimes I’ll find a message that he shares touches me in a way that makes me want to hug our dogs for hours.  This is beautiful.

A person with a deaf dog has a unique opportunity to communicate with their dog as the animal they are.  Dogs communicate through energy and body language.  I’ve said many times that you don’t get the dog you want, you get the dog you need.  I’ve seen it time and time again that the dog a person chooses comes into their life and teaches them the lessons they need most.

So what are the lessons a deaf dog can teach?  So many humans are out of touch with Mother Nature.  They’ve lost patience.  They’re disconnected from their lives.  They are not mindfully aware and emotionally in tune.  With a deaf dog, it is critical that you be present, feel the energy, read signals, and be in tune to yourself and the environment around you, just as you are asking your dog to do.  You will need to bond with your dog in a way that he trusts you as his leader; a leader whose job is to provide him with protection and direction.  So if you are going to cross the street, he looks to you to keep him safe.  If you are turning the corner, he looks to you to show him which way to go.

~ Cesar Milan

Thank you to the following people who contributed tips to this article…

  • Kelley Poole, GuideDogs.org
  • Maryam Faresh and Daisy
  • Bruce Mirken and Medea (who will be missed)
  • Roxanne Holland
  • Susan L. Storey and Callie
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