I did some articles a while ago about deaf dogs, and now I have some deaf dog training tips, this time from Kate Stolle, of Columbia, Missouri.
As for training tips:
- I highly recommend using a harness when you are getting your dog used to walking with you. It was so much easier for us to train Lilly with that than a regular leash. Now when she sees her harness being brought out she knows that it means she gets to go somewhere special: like camping or swimming.
- Persistance, Persistance, Persistance!!! Training a dog can be frustrating but it is even harder when your dog can’t hear the commands.
- We use some ASL sign language for her when we sign to her. Like the letter “T” for toilet which is making a fist and tucking your thumb under the pointer and middle finger and shake your fist at the dog.
- A bell attached to the door is very convenient, as a way she can get our attention. It is also a way for her to communicate with us and other people who may not know the signs we use for Lilly.
- The main thing that I was told is to figure out what works for you and your dog. You aren’t asking them to steal second base but simple, direct commands are easier for you and the deaf dog.
- Reward constantly. I have dog treats everywhere, my car, the kitchen, my art studio, my husbands car, my office.
- I am constantly working with Lilly on new commands and old ones. Sit is a command that she doesn’t quite know yet.
- LOVE LOVE LOVE. Just because your deaf dog can’t hear doesn’t mean that they love any less or any differently than a dog that can hear. I admit we spoil Lilly constantly because of her deafness but she is the most loving and grateful dog.
- Some people use those laser pointer pens when they want to get their dogs attention,. We have never used one on Lilly other than for her to play with it. Usually I wave my arms above my head and the movement attracts her attention.
- We do flip the lights off and on when she is outside at night. When we do that, she knows it is time to come in. This was a fast learning process for her. We would flick the lights off and on and when she would come to the door we would give her a treat and hug her and pet her.
- You would be surprised how much the dog respond to our facial expressions and body language. Now all I have to do is give Lilly a look and she knows she is doing something bad. After my husbands mother died and we were so upset, Lilly was very affectionate and followed us everywhere, licking our ankles and giving us kisses. When we reprimand her or the other dogs I make sure to stand as tall as my 5ft2 will allow and puff my chest to make myself seem bigger and like I am in charge.
- Learn to walk away. When you are frustrated with the dog, walk away. Training is difficult and I am not going to tell you any differently. It takes time and patience like with any dog but they need more because they simply can’t hear you. I would walk away from Lilly when she made me angry and I would work on my jewelry or walk around the outside of the house or anything to calm down. They will see they have irritated you and they will continue to do whatever rotten thing they have done because they see it has gotten your attention. But not the kind of attention you want to give them.
Want to know more about deaf dogs? Check the list of articles on this site about deaf dogs.
Also, here’s a book. It’s no accident that the dog on the cover is white, as deafness in dogs is more common in albinos.