How Can I Train My Deaf Dog?

If you have a deaf dog, you can still train him to listen to you. It will just require more patience, but he'll get it.
How Can I Train My Deaf Dog?

Last update: 17 January, 2019

You’ve probably never thought about this before, unless your own dog is deaf. Training a dog with proper hearing is a difficult enough task, and so doing it with a dog who’s deaf is bound to be even more complicated. However, it’s not impossible.

You can still train your dog even if he’s deaf

Living with a deaf dog is not an easy task, especially when it comes to training him. There will be a number of difficulties that you may not even have thought of before. This will make you value your hearing abilities a lot more.

If your dog’s deaf, you don’t need to worry unduly. With some patience and good advice, you can still train him. The methods are actually the same: repetition and positive reinforcement. The difference is that with a hearing dog, you train him by repeating words; with a deaf dog, however, you do it by repeating signals.

A lady training a deaf dog.

Choose a signal

If your dog is deaf and you want to train him, the first thing you should do is choose a signal that shows him he’s done something right. You can do this using your hand or a flashlight (never a laser pointer). Remember that the hand gesture or flashlight signal always has to be the same. That way, you won’t end up confusing the animal.

Show him the signal

Now comes a very important step: teaching the dog the signal that will show him he’s done something right. You should try to teach him something simple, like putting something in your hand and then lifting a finger up.

Make the sign and make sure your dog sees it every time he picks up whatever is in your hand. This will help him relate the two gestures. Make sure you reward him every time he obeys your orders.

Get his attention if he doesn’t look at you

Your dog may get distracted easily. And, since he can’t hear you, you’ll have to find some way to get his attention so that you can keep training him. You can do this by touching him close to his eyes, and this will help him to understand that you want him to look at you.

You could also get his attention using a treat or a bit of his favorite food. However, you want to make sure you don’t give it to him until he’s done what you’ve asked of him. 

Plan out what you want to teach him

Before you start to seriously train him, make sure your dog understands the signals. In addition to that, you’ll need to plan out what you want to teach him. For example, to sit down, to pick something up, to drop something, or to come when you call him. When you have this figured out, you can then start his training.

A lady training her dog.

Choose a negative signal

Of course, you’ll want to show the dog a positive signal when he’s done something right, but he also has to understand when he’s done something wrong. Therefore, you need a signal to make him understand that he hasn’t done what you wanted him to do. For example, if you decide that thumbs up means good, you can make thumbs down mean bad.

Signal and reward

The best way for an animal to learn and relate obedience to something good is to make sure you don’t let a lot of time pass between the positive signal and the reward. As soon as you see that your pet has done what you wanted, reward him right away. That way, he knows that if does the same thing next time, you’ll give him another treat.

Cuddles, pets and kind words are also positive rewards your dog will appreciate. If your dog is deaf, you can certainly still train him. However, you may need an extra dose of patience and perseverance! If you follow these tips, it will be much easier for him (and you!) Ready to try them out?

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