Education is a crucial part of the care that every dog should have, even those with a disability, such as deafness. If you have decided to adopt a deaf dog, you must be clear that educating it is not only possible, but it is essential for its optimal physical and mental development.
Let’s see in detail everything you need to know to properly educate a deaf or partially deaf dog. In this Soyunperro article we are going to share with you some key tips. Keep reading and discover them!
What to consider before starting to educate a deaf dog
Before getting into the tips to educate a deaf dog, we must make a brief distinction between the concepts of education and training. Training consists of making the dog assimilate the execution of certain behaviors to the presentation of certain orders or commands. For example, getting the dog to sit when the command to sit is presented.
But educating is a much broader concept, which goes beyond teaching tricks or basic training commands. Ultimately, it is about encourage efficient communication and appropriate behaviors to coexistence with all the individuals with whom the dog shares its routine and its environment.
In this sense, it must be clear that a deaf dog is not incapable or dysfunctional. His cognitive, emotional and social capacities are identical to those of a dog that is not deaf, he simply lives with a hearing loss that requires communication to be adapted to his specific needs.
This implies giving priority to body language – and not orality – when presenting any order or request to a deaf dog, which ranges from calling it by its name, reporting that some behavior is considered inappropriate (for example, getting on bed or rummaging through the trash), to teaching him the basic training commands.
For example, in the daily life of a home or during walks in the street, we cannot wait for a deaf dog to attend the ‘classic’ oral call that we emit, basically, when we call it by its own name so that it comes to our meeting. But the deaf dogs can easily perceive vibrationsso we can gently tap the ground with our foot to get their attention.
How to teach commands to a deaf dog?
As we said, we cannot use oral commands (the vocal emission of words, such as “sit” or “lie down”), since we are dealing with a dog that has totally or significantly lost its hearing. The best in this case is use gestures or signs to communicate with a deaf dog effectively.
And here we have a very important point… In order to maintain effective communication with a deaf dog, it is essential choose a gesture or sign to express each command, command or request. This is extremely important to ensure that the furry assimilates this body signal that we present to the behavior that we expect it to carry out when presented to it.
For example, imagine that we want to teach a dog to stop where it is and wait for us to summon it to move again. If it were a dog that can hear, we would probably choose words like “stay” or “stay.” But when we want to train a deaf dog, we must replace this vocal/oral command with a gesture or sign that tells the furry what we expect it to do. To achieve this, we could use a simple and obvious sign such as placing the hand with the palm open just at eye level.
sign language for deaf dogs
Unfortunately, no national or global sign language has yet been established to communicate with deaf dogs. There are no predetermined gestures or signs to be used in the context of training a deaf dog. But, what there are are good practices, such as defining a clear and specific gesture for each command or order that is intended to be taught to a deaf dog, so as not to confuse it with very similar signals.
Likewise, the fact that there is no sign language for dogs does not mean that you cannot learn and use signs and signs from established sign languages for deaf people. In fact, it is a very good idea to use Spanish Sign Language (LSE), or American Sign Language (ASL), to promote more efficient communication with your deaf best friend.
6 Key Tips for Training a Deaf Dog
The training of a deaf dog follows the same guidelines as that of a hearing dog, and it is important that the training sessions are planned to favor learning. Below you will find 6 good practices to educate a deaf dog safely and efficiently:
Choose the right place and do not overload your dog
Everything and any dog will be more attentive to a training session carried out in a calm and positive environment, where there is not an excess of visual stimuli or vibrations that distract it. You can conduct the training sessions at home or outdoors, but always making sure that the environment is safe and conducive to learning.
Another good practice is to take your dog for a walk and exercise him before starting each training session, to prevent pent-up energy from preventing him from concentrating. In addition, it is recommended do short sessions10 to 15 minutes a day, so as not to overload your best friend.
Work one order or command at a time
Each order must be presented and trained individually, until it is perfectly assimilated and executed by the dog. That is to say, you are going to work on a single command and its gesture at a time until your furry manages to assimilate and reproduce them successfully.
Emphasize your body language
Although body language is important when communicating with any furry dog, paying due attention to it becomes essential when it comes to educating a deaf dog. Beyond choosing the gestures and signs that you will use to teach him the basic orders of obedience, we suggest put emphasis on your facial expressions.
For example, when you go to reward your furry for good behavior, remember to accompany his prize (be it a treat or a caress) with a sincere smile to express your satisfaction.
Positive reinforcement is the best ally in the education of a dog
And speaking of rewards, we recommend that you always use positive reinforcement to recognize your furry’s good behavior and encourage it to continue learning, more and more. Punishment, deprivation and other ‘negative’ education techniques are counterproductive, and can limit the dog’s interest in learning or even encourage behavioral problems, such as aggressiveness, especially when used inappropriately.
Consider using a vibration collar for deaf dogs
Collars that emit vibrations can help us improve communication with deaf dogs, and even provide us with more security during walks outdoors, allowing us to capture their attention more easily in environments where there are many people, other dogs or abundant stimuli that can distract them .
However, it is very important to pay attention when choosing this type of product, since there are necklaces that, in addition to vibrations, also emit electric shocks, which contrary to what used to be believed, they serve no educational purpose and they only generate discomfort or even pain for the dog.
Encourage good communication with your deaf dog on a daily basis
A dog’s ability to obey is directly related to the bond it shares with its guardian (and other family members) on a day-to-day basis. If you don’t learn to communicate and interact with your furry, also knowing his preferences and needs, you will have more difficulties when it comes to capturing his attention and getting him to want to share a training session with you.
Lastly, if you think you don’t have the knowledge or the time to train a deaf dog, seek help from a dog trainer or educator. The most important thing is that your furry can access an education that improves his quality of life and also the bond with you and with his loved ones.