Living With a Deaf Dog

I’m a deaf dog.

It’s likely I was born deaf, as many white dogs are due to underdeveloped pigmentation within our ears. However, any dog can become deaf due to illness, accidents, and old age.

This article highlights some useful tips for living with a deaf dog.

We understand sign language. 

Deaf dogs learn in the same way that hearing dogs do: when a behaviour is rewarded, we’ll do it more often. All we need is for our humans to decide on a set of clear hand signals, stock up on treats, and dedicate some time to reward-based training.

Some of the tricks I know so far include:

  • Sit 
  • Lay 
  • Stay 
  • Stop 
  • Walk to Heel 
  • Recall 
  • Shake Hands 
  • High Five 
  • Speak on Command
  • Weave (figure eights around objects) 
  • Go to Bed 
  • Sit on the Sofa 
  • Touch (a target) 
  • Spin Around (both directions) 
  • Dance 

Let’s be honest, that’s more than plenty of hearing dogs know!

Use a long line for added peace of mind. 

A long line is an extra-lengthy lead, usually measuring 10 metres or more. You don’t need to hold the lead by a handle; simply attach it to your dog’s collar or harness and it will drag behind them as they explore the park, then when you need them to stop, you can just step on the lead.

Long lines are beneficial to many dog owners, especially those in the process of teaching recall to their dogs (or for dogs who don’t respond well to their name!), as it can prevent your dog from running over to strangers, other animals, or even out of an open gate.

If you’re walking a deaf dog who can’t hear their name being called, a long line provides reassurance, as you can ensure your dog gets the exercise she/he needs without being put in danger.

Vibration collars are excellent for recall. 

A vibration collar is a normal dog collar that comes with a remote control and the capacity to vibrate. You can see me wearing mine in the picture above.

I’ve been trained to look at Josanne and Richard whenever they press the vibration button. Once they have my attention, they can then give me a hand signal so I know what to do, whether it’s sit, stay, or return to them.

We don’t use this at home but it’s extremely valuable outdoors or in new places, as it enables us to check-in with each other regularly.

We won’t upset the postman! 

As I can’t hear the doorbell, I can quite happily sleep through a delivery, which can avoid a lot of fuss and barking. Likewise, Firework Night is a breeze!

However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get a warm greeting when you come in. Using my brilliant sense of smell, I always know when Josanne and Richard are home, and I give them an enthusiastic welcome every time.

Do you live with a deaf dog? Post your best tips below.

Photo Credit: Mina Milanovic Photography.

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  1. My dog became deaf from old age a couple of years ago, he's 14,5 years old and we're still sort of getting used to it. For a while I stopped talking out loud to him, just because I felt that if he can't hear me then what's the use. But it felt really unnatural not talking to him or not using words at the same time I gave the sign for him to "sit" for example. By still being vocal with your deaf dog also puts more feeling and emotion behind your commands or when your're simply just talking to him/her. My boy can still hear it when I clap my hands, so I use that as a call sign combined with a hand sign when he looks at me.

    1. Hi Shira,

      I totally agree that it's important to talk to deaf dogs. Although I understand hand signals as commands, I'll look to my humans' eyes/lips to gauge the situation, and I can sit and stare for hours into their faces as they stroke and talk to me!

      I'm sorry to learn that your dog is going deaf but it's great that you started incorporating signs into your communications with him before he went completely deaf.

      Do keep in touch to let me know how he is getting on.

      Gordon x

  2. It was so great to meet you and Richard today - what an amazing story. Thank you for taking the time with Charlie today and hope to see Josanne out too on our next walk :)

    1. Hi Bridget,

      Lovely to meet you too! And thanks for checking out my blog :)

      I hope Charlie is well. I have a newly adopted sister now called Mookie - so hopefully you can meet her and Josanne on our next walk too!

      Gordon x


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