Case Study: Training a Deaf Dog
Since beginning Peachtree Dog Training many years ago, our Atlanta dog trainer, Christina, has worked with many different dogs of different ages, temperaments, breeds, sizes, and backgrounds. She has also worked with dogs with different impairments, including several deaf dogs.
Dogs that are impaired, whether hearing or visually, can be difficult to work with. It takes creativity to find the right approach for a deaf dog with behavioral issues. Many dogs rely on verbal cues from their owners and other dogs (ie: commands from owners, or barking and growling from other dogs). Being deaf for some dogs can even cause more on-guard behavior from the dog, where anxiety, fear, and aggression can form, if not trained and socialized properly.
When you have a deaf dog, speaking commands are not going to be very helpful for them. But there are other ways to communicate with a deaf dog. The primary language between dogs and people is body language. Your deaf dog may not be able to hear what you are saying, but they might be able to see or feel what you are saying through your body language or hand signals.
Our most recent deaf dog case was a young and lovable Bull Terrier mix named Posey. She lived in a home with three other dogs and numerous cats, not to mention her owner and the owner’s young daughter. Posey’s owner had no idea how to communicate with her, especially when Posey relentlessly pulled on the leash during walks, or when she played too aggressively with her siblings. This was frustrating everyone, including Posey, who wasn’t sure how to connect with her family and be a behaviorally successful dog.
Because Posey’s owner couldn’t just call her when she was rough housing or pulling on the leash, we had to guide her through sight and touch. We began a training regimen that set up very consistent and solid boundaries for Posey to first learn and slowly understand. With her owner having total control of Posey, she could then set Posey up where she can focus on hand signals and start to learn some basic commands and obedience. As she developed her skill set, we soon tested Posey among some distractions, such as being outside and with her siblings. The training already calmed her down and instilled some basic impulse control, so when she interacted with her siblings, it was much gentler and she started looking for more visual cues, rather than verbal. Now Posey has learned not only to play more nicely, but she’s calmed down in the house and is a much more pleasant walker on the leash!
Training a deaf dog can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. If you learn more about the deaf dog’s personality and find out what may be causing the behavioral issues, you can then formulate a training plan that will clearly communicate to them, without the necessity of verbal cues.
If you have a deaf dog or a dog with other types of impairment, give us a call and we can help! Reach out to our offices at 800.649.7297, or write us using our contact form!