Training and educating a deaf dog can seem like a real challenge, as we are used to using verbal communication to interact with our dogs. However, our dogs mostly use body and non-verbal language to express themselves, communicate and interact, both with us and with other animals and with their own environment. For this reason, all dogs, including deaf dogs, are capable of interpreting various signs, gestures and facial expressions, and not just sound records.
If we want to teach a non-hearing dog, we must learn to communicate through non-verbal language, using our bodies to express what we want to transmit to our best friends. Instead of using words to communicate the obedience orders, tricks and tasks that we intend to teach you, we can use gestures, signs and tools .
To learn more about how to educate a deaf dog , we invite you to continue reading this article by Animal Expert, where you will find very valuable tips for the education of your non- hearing dog.
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- Do deaf dogs have learning difficulties?
- How to train a dog that does not listen?
- Using the vibration collar for deaf dogs
- Is there sign language for deaf dogs?
- Basic tips for training a deaf dog
Do deaf dogs have learning difficulties?
Hearing is a very important sense for dogs, as it allows them to better understand their environment and all the sound stimuli that the world offers. However, deafness in dogs does not reduce their cognitive, emotional or social capacity. In other words, a deaf dog by birth or a dog that has totally or partially lost its hearing is not less intelligent , less capable of learning, nor will it have greater difficulties to create a healthy affective bond with its tutor.
As dogs maintain a complex and varied body language, which includes numerous body postures, actions and facial expressions, their communication and intelligence are not limited to the emission and capture of sound stimuli , but also depend on their powerful smell, their good vision and his other abilities. Furthermore, when properly stimulated, deaf dogs can develop their vision and smell better, somehow “compensating” for the total or partial loss of their hearing.
A deaf dog has the same cognitive, emotional, and social capabilities as a dog with hearing intact. For this reason, it can train successfully , learn a wide variety of tricks, tasks and sports, in addition to enjoying its family like any other dog. However, you will need to be specially educated and receive some specific care for deaf dogs , since you will not have the hearing to understand us and interact with their environment.
This does not mean that a deaf dog may not have any learning problem, but this problem will probably be related to the use of inappropriate methods that can harm the training of any dog, and not specifically its deafness. For this reason, we will never use counterproductive or dangerous techniques to educate a deaf dog, such as hanging collars, punishments or scolding, but we will use positive reinforcement to stimulate their learning and reward their achievements and efforts.
How to train a dog that does not listen?
Although it may seem very complex, educating a deaf dog correctly is based on the same techniques and on the same pillars that govern the education of any dog. However, as our best friend has totally or partially lost his hearing, we should use signs instead of words when teaching them basic dog obedience commands .
That is, we will not use our voice to give a verbal order to our dog, but we will use our body to give it a non-verbal order, making the sign or gesture that we have chosen to express each command that we want to teach a deaf dog.
So, instead of teaching our dog to associate the word ” still ” with the act of stopping and waiting in the same place, for example, we will work so that he assimilates a sign or gesture to this same act. A simple and obvious signal for the order to stay could be, for example, positioning our hand in front of your face and at your level with an open palm.
To capture the attention of a deaf dog, you will not be able to call him by his name, since he will not be able to hear you. However, since deaf dogs can feel the vibrations, you can gently tap the floor with your foot to grab their attention, ask them for something, or start a training session.
Using the vibration collar for deaf dogs
Another effective option to facilitate education and communication with deaf dogs, but also more expensive, is to purchase a vibration collar . In the market we will find several options: necklaces that emit only vibration and necklaces that, in addition to vibration, perform electric shocks. They are also known as “educational collars”, as they are generally used to prevent a dog from barking.
However, it should be borne in mind that the use of electric shocks is neither adequate nor effective to educate a deaf or hearing dog, since it is based on punishing the animal every time it barks or carries out a behavior considered inappropriate. In addition to causing an uncomfortable and even painful sensation to the dog, these tools are counterproductive, since the dog associates learning in a negative way.
The collars that exclusively emit vibration or the educational collars in the appropriate way do not emit electric currents, but they do vibratory waves , which awaken the dog’s attention without causing pain, fear or any other negative emotion. In addition, it is a safe and effective way to capture the attention of a deaf dog outside the home (during his walks, for example), where the blows on the ground will not be very effective, especially at medium or long distances.
We should only use vibrations when we really need to communicate with our dog. Emitting them without communicating anything to them and even using them excessively can cause them to stop paying attention. It could also generate a stress picture in the dog .
Is there sign language for deaf dogs?
There is still no universally accepted sign language for the training of deaf dogs, just as there are no good or bad signs when it comes to educating a deaf dog. The most important thing is to establish, before starting to train with a non-hearing dog, a clear and specific signal for each order that we intend to teach it. In this way, we do not confuse our dog with very similar or confusing gestures. Remember that the objective of a communication is always that both parties understand each other and can interact in a positive way.
A simple and effective solution is to use the basic signs and signs of ASL (American Sign Language) or Spanish Sign Language (LSE), which are designed for communication between non-hearing people, and between hearing and non-hearing people. listeners. Later, we will work together with our dog so that he assimilates each signal with the order that we are communicating to him. Of course, this requires you to learn the basic ASL cues before you start training with your dog to be safe and firm when using them in training sessions.
Training sessions with a deaf dog follow the same guidelines as with a hearing dog, but we must be even more careful with the environment where we choose to teach to avoid any accident. Of course, we will apply positive reinforcement to stimulate the intelligence of our furry, rewarding him for every good attitude and achievement during his training. In Animal Expert, we tell you what a dog training session should be like .
Basic tips for training a deaf dog
If you want to train your dog at home, we invite you to learn about our training tricks that every guardian must know and that are effective in educating both a deaf dog and a hearing dog. But here are also some tips to educate a deaf dog correctly:
- Learn how to interact with a deaf dog on a daily basis. Although they do not have the ability to hear fully, deaf dogs are very sensitive. Therefore, we must be careful and deeply loving when interacting with a deaf dog on a daily basis. We should always approach a deaf dog slowly and head on, so that the dog can see us and not be scared. It is also important to wake them up carefully, with caresses, and not abruptly or violently.
- Invest in early education. This tip applies to all dogs, deaf or hearing. If we begin to educate our furry from his arrival at home, in his first months of life, we will achieve results more quickly and effectively. Puppy dogs have a more flexible character, which is why they are especially predisposed to training. In addition, during their first three or four months of life, dogs establish their notions of behavior and social coexistence, so the ideal is to start training and socializing them as puppies .
- Training a deaf dog requires perseverance and a lot of love: training any dog requires perseverance and commitment, as dog training is a constant and gradual process , where each exercise must be properly absorbed, memorized and executed perfectly. Educating a deaf dog also requires a lot of love and dedication, because the tutors must also have the enthusiasm to expand their knowledge. Therefore, training your deaf dog at home is an extremely rewarding and enriching experience, since your best friend will also teach you to improve your communication and learn to interact in another way, using mostly non-verbal language.
- Learn how and when to teach. Basic obedience exercises should be trained daily, in short sessions of 10 to 15 minutes in length, so as not to overload the dog. In addition, each exercise must be individually presented and trained, until it is perfectly executed. That is, we will work a single signal at a time until our dog is able to fully assimilate this order and reproduce it successfully. Each dog will take their own time to learn a new order, and their learning time will also depend on the complexity of the proposed activity.
- Pay attention to where you teach. Although your dog cannot hear the noise of people, dogs, cars and other objects, the presence of these elements can distract him. Therefore, it is best to choose a quiet place where there is no excess of visual stimuli, aromas or vibrations. It is also highly recommended that a deaf dog always go outside with a vibration collar, which allows them to easily catch their attention even over medium or long distances.
- Emphasize your facial expressions. Although you will use signs and gestures to communicate directly with a deaf dog, you should not forget that facial expressions are very important when communicating something to any dog, especially a non-listener. If you want to reward your dog for good behavior in its training or routine, learn to emphasize your facial expression, communicating your joy and pride with a wide and true smile, for example.
- Never lose patience or judge a deaf dog. A deaf dog will need the patience and dedication of its handlers throughout its life. If at any time you think that your deaf dog is limited because he cannot hear, remember that this same dog is capable of perceiving aromas and vibrations that go unnoticed, so that his senses are neither better nor worse than yours, they are simply different and very special. And if you feel like you don’t have the patience or time to educate a deaf dog, be honest with yourself and your dog, and just find a professional caninehandler or educator who can help you.