Training a Deaf Dog



Training a deaf dog takes a lot of patience and time, because it is so challenging it is also more rewarding. You basically use the same training tools and methods, as for normal dogs, but adapt them so that your deaf dog can understand.


All learning with dogs start with signals, when you are training a deaf dog, your signals have to be very precise, and unlike a normal dog you do not then teach them the vocal command afterwards. Each member of your family has to learn to give exactly the same signal, and not differ at all. It is very much easier for dogs to understand signals, so it is no more difficult for your deaf dog, it is just that you have to learn how to get his attention. When training a deaf dog you have to learn to position your self so that your dog can see you, and therefore can see your signals.


When training a deaf dog you can still use verbal commands because although, a deaf dog cannot hear they can learn to lip read, to a small extent. To dogs it is just another form of body language. Another form of body language a deaf dog will quickly pick up is a directional signal, as all dogs are capable of following through to where you are pointing, or even where you are looking. So when you are training a deaf dog it is wise to remember this and notice if he is reacting in any way to what you are doing.


Remember too that a dog can read your face as well. So when your are training a deaf dog smile when he gets something right, he will understand. Always be sure to reassure a deaf dog more than you would a normal dog, as they are often more unsure of themselves. But to begin with you have to know if your deaf dog understands that a smile means that he is a good dog. If you think about it when you smile you sometimes show your teeth, which in a dog’s understanding could mean aggression.


When living with a deaf dog try not to surprise him, remember that he cannot hear your approach. So do not suddenly bend down to make a fuss of him it may frighten him. As you approach a deaf dog you could try stamping on the floor so that they feel the vibration, or if possible approach him from the front so that he has a chance to see you.


Training a deaf dog has its limitations so when you take a deaf dog out you need to keep him on an extended lead, for his safety. There are other alternatives by way of a vibrating collar. Do not confuse this collar with the electronic collar. For a deaf dog the vibrating collar just gives a little tickle to attract the dogs attention.


Another useful tool when training a deaf dog is to use a torch to attract his attention, or even as a “clicker” replacement. So whenever you are training a deaf dog and he has got soothing right you can shine the torch and reward him. It would also teach him to come when the torch shines, as he will lean to associate the torch with a reward.



Teaching the "Sit" Command

 1  Bend your arm at the elbow, about a 90-degree angle, with your hand held open, palm facing up slowly raise your hand  toward your shoulder.

 2  Hold a well liked food treat next to your dog's nose and mouth at the same time as you give the command.

 3  Keep the food treat close to your dog's nose, and slowly take the treat up and over his head. Doing so will lead the dog into a sit.

4  Let your dog nibble on the treat if he wishes, but hold tight as you encourage him into position.

5  Give the food treat immediately your dog sits, and praise him by petting and smiling at him

6  Encourage your dog with treats as well as with visual and tactile encourage - you don't want him to give up.

Teaching the "Down" Command

 1 With your dog in the sit position

2  Bend your arm at the elbow, again at a 90-degree angle, with your hand held open, palm facing down. Slowly lower your hand down by your side.

3  Hold a well liked food treat next to your dog's nose and mouth at the same time you give the command, as before.

4  Keep the food treat close to your dog's nose, and slowly take the treat down to the ground between his legs. This should encourage your dog into the down position.

Give the food treat and lots of praise when the task is completed.

Tips & Warnings

When you first teach this command, start with your hand held level with the dog or just above his head.

"Down" is a hard behaviour to teach to some dogs, as it's the most vulnerable position a dog can be in. Be patient, and try this over and over until you both get it right.

Teaching the "Come" Command

1: Start inside the house and begin working over a very short distance (a few feet).

2  Page the dog to get its attention if you have a pager collar, or wait until your pet notices you.

3  Show a treat when your dog looks at you, and give the hand signal for "come" by extending your arm straight up.


4  Reward your dog when he comes to you.

Overall Tips & Warnings

If you think your dog has forgotten a particular behaviour, he probably didn't know it well in the first place. Go back and teach the behaviour from the start.

Avoid getting angry, jerking, hitting or pushing your pet for unwanted behaviour. Instead, ignore it and focus on rewarding the behaviour you do want.


Kindness and Patience are an Absolute Must



You are welcome to use this article written by Valerie Dancer, for your website or publication. Providing it is copied in it’s entirety, including the web site address, linking back to us.

Copyright 2006


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