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Deaf Dogs: Training

Also see:  Hearing Dogs

Also see:  Hearing Ear Dogs

By Kirsten Rockwood
11/09/08

Deaf dogs can be trained too

         According to Wikipedia there are certain breeds that can inherit the deafness gene:                
         "Researchers now know that deafness in albino and piebald animals is caused by the absence of mature melanocytes in the inner ear [4]. This may affect one or both ears. The condition is also common in other canine breeds that share a genetic propensity for light pigmentation. This includes, but is not limited to bull terriers, Poodles, boxers, border collies and Great Danes. Similarly, Charles Darwin commented on the tendency of white, blue-eyed cats to be deaf [5], while Warrensburg syndrome is the human analog. There is an accurate test called the BAER test, which can determine if the defect is present. Puppies can be tested beginning at five weeks of age. BAER testing is the only way of detecting unilateral deafness, and reputable breeders test their dogs prior to breeding." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalmatian_ (dog))

         Many would like to reject those dogs that are deaf. Unfortunately many deaf dogs lose their lives because an owner does not know they are deaf and turn them into a shelter that also does not know they are deaf. The deaf dog will act differently than a hearing dog. According to Spirit of Deaf Dogs web site the dog may cling and watch his or her owner more carefully. They may be more in tune with and see every little spider on the wall. They are easily startled when they cannot see a person or be touched when not looking at the person. There is no need to turn them into a shelter or return to a breeder because one can train these dogs just like one can train a hearing dog.

             Deaf dogs can understand signs just as well as hearing dogs can understand language. One of the first signs one should learn when they are attempting to train a deaf dog would be "good dog" according to Deaf Dog Education Action Fund. This will help the dog to understand you when training. The need for encouragement will help the dog to continue to learn the language that you want to teach it. This goes for hearing dogs as well. In order for my dog to understand she is doing something I want her to do I praise her with "good girl".

           The sign for "good" can be taught to a dog too. The deaf dog can learn all the signs that a hearing dog is required to learn. Such as sit, stay, lie down, be gentle, down, come, go on and so forth. These commands will be done with hand movements or sign language this is also helpful for dogs that are in obedience training or such as a service dog that needs to obey the commands that are given to them without a spoken word.

            One needs to use consistent behaviors as well as clear commands to help the deaf dog or any dog for that matter to understand what is going on. This also applies to human students who are attempting to learn ASL or anything for that matter. One website suggests the following when training a dog.

               “You will mostly be communicating with your dog through hand signs. Think about what                   signs you will use before you try to train them. Hand signals must be:
                            clear
                            distinguishable from other signs and gestures you commonly use
                            visible from a distance, and
                            consistent." (http://www.wagntrain.com/deaf_dog.htm)

              One of the most important things to remember with the training of a deaf dog or a hearing dog is to have great patience as well as lots of love and treats which will help the dog and your patience with the dog to survive the process of training any dog. Deaf dogs can live a long healthy life and survive in a loving family that is willing to take the time and the energy as well as patience to help the dog succeed.
 

References:

http://www.deafdogs.org/training/signs.php

http://www.spiritofdeafdogs.org

http://www.wagntrain.com/deaf_dog.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalmatian_(dog)


Also see: "Hearing Dogs"

 


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