Training deaf dogs is something I’ve written about before, not because I have ever done it but because I’ve heard from some owners of deaf dogs. Recently I got an email from Becky, whose deaf dog Otis you can see in a previous article. He’s grown up a lot since then.
Becky can hardly write about Otis without exclaiming about how smart he is! She writes:
I had a gum ball machine here that held dog treats and instead of money going into it, it has a lever for the dog to use his paw to push down. Then dog treats fall out the hole, like gum balls would fall out of a machine for humans. This machine has been in my basement for several years, ever since two dogs I had before had died. The other dogs here are afraid of it. SO I had decided to give it away. I even had it in the box to go to Goodwill, but I kept taking it out as I did not have the heart to get rid of it.
I went and picked up the round treats from the pet store and filled it up. It took Otis about two hours to learn this. We had to take breaks while learning as Otis has had a very bad temper ever since he was a pup. I showed him what to do. He got where the treat came out from but did not quite figure what to do to make the treats come out. Then he started smacking the machine around with his paw because he was so mad that he could not figure out how to get the treats to come out.
SO after a few pauses and two hours he finally got it to work on his own.
I do enjoy stories about how “differently abled” dogs manage in this world. I had a first-hand taste of what it’s like not to hear well, because for nearly two months I had a persistent ear infection which at the worst cut the hearing in my left ear down to about half of what I’m used to, giving me loud tinnitus in that ear to boot. Happily, I am completely back to normal, but it was quite a learning experience. I have a new compassion for the hard of hearing, of whatever species! Of course, I was going without a faculty that I was used to having, where Otis seems to do just fine in the world he has always known.
If you happen to have a deaf dog, or know of one, here’s a page where I review a couple of books about living with and training deaf dogs.