Communicating With Deaf Dogs



In my last blog about adopting senior dogs I failed to share some of the problems that can be encountered when doing so. While senior dogs without health issues are slow to be adopted, ones with health issues are even slower. We adopted Ruby (see photo) one month ago, problems and all. The sebaceous cysts were clearly visible and we promptly had her seen by a veterinarian to have them removed so she would be more comfortable. 

Deafness Confirmed: 

With those out of the way our veterinarian routinely checks their ears while they are under anesthesia. We had already discovered she was deaf but wanted to see if any of her hearing could be restored. Regretfully we learned nothing could be done and she would continue to remain totally deaf. She came with no history and hence no name as she was deaf and couldn’t respond to voice recognition commands or any name. Initially I tried hundreds of dog names and when she did not respond to any we suspected she may be deaf. 

Communicating With Deaf Dogs: 

We had never had a totally deaf dog before so we had to find a way to communicate with her. We started with hand signals and she picked up on them quickly. Until we started her training she would stand in place not knowing what to do or what we wanted of her. If she is uncertain what we want from her she still stands or lays in place until we communicate our wishes. We had to have some method of consistent communication between us and the most important lesson was the “come” command. She also learned to take her prompts from our other senior dog who has been with us for many years. She watches us closely when we are outside/inside for signals as to what we want from her. 

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