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How to retrain a deaf dog?

(8 Posts)
adognamedboo Fri 28-Mar-14 12:58:31

Our boy is 10 and is going deaf. He also has arthritis in his back legs but is doing well on supplements.
Does anyone have any experience retraining a dog who is losing their hearing?
It's come to the time where he cannot be walked off lead, which he normally is as he takes his time due to his arthritis. His recall is going and I don't think it's safe to let him off the lead, but he doesn't walk we'll on the lead as he cannot keep a constant pace so he pulls and then slows and it's Tough going. In the home he is fine and the kids are aware that they need to get his attention first, but he's started jumping at loud noises and barking.
Where do I start with training? Any ideas are very welcome.

LokiDokey Sat 29-Mar-14 20:28:13

Not to retrain, but when I trained our (late) Westie and our new Pup I used hand signals as well so 'Sit' was a swift pull of the hand towards me, stay was a shown palm etc. Over time he'd watch my hand and I didn't need to say the word sit or stay. Never really occurred to me that I'd done it up until he went deaf at 13 and realised he'd still sit, stay etc from hand commands.

Perhaps speaking louder and introducing a hand command now would work whilst he still has some hearing? Though off lead would be trickier as you are relying on his seeing your movements.

Tricky isn't it? I do hope you find a solution. I'd spend the best part of my day talking to Bob and then realising he couldn't hear a word I was saying.

adognamedboo Sat 29-Mar-14 20:43:18

Thanks for the reply, that's a great idea. He does have some hand signs he follows but only with the word at the moment. Shall keep on with the hand signs n see how it goes :-)

MichonnesSamuraiSword Sun 30-Mar-14 00:37:47

I have a deaf dog, although she's been deaf from birth, so it's not quite the same as your situation. However, I didn't meet her until she was about 4 years old, and have still managed to teach her new signals.

Agree with the poster above - big clear hand signals for sit, stay etc, reinforced with your voice and lots of praise. We use a 'wave' or a clapping hands gesture in place of 'good girl' and make a big happy hands gesture when she does something right - so with your dog, just start using your chosen hand signals alongside the voice signals. And it's important to do this all the time from now on.

I've found that my other - hearing - dog now responds to the hand signals without me speaking so it's clearly possible for them to learn new hand signs.

As for recall - obviously, you need to rely on the dog looking at you. We use a single hand beckoning gesture, or, if the dog is far away, I do star jumps and wave my arms over my head. People must think I'm bonkers if they see me do this, but what the hell. Once the dog starts to come back, I jump around waving and make a big 'hooraaay' gesture, then give her a massive fuss when she gets to me.

To get his attention if he's looking away from you, just touch him gently while speaking, then praise him when he looks. You'll need to rely on your dog checking in on you regularly once he is deaf - and this might not be too reliable, so be prepared for that. Our deaf dog is prone to going off exploring, but will come back to where she last saw us. So if we lose sight of her, we stay still until she looks at us. Because if we've moved off out of sight, she panics.

Oh and be aware of spooking him by coming up behind him in the home if he doesn't know you're there. I've got into the habit of constantly touching my deaf dog whenever I walk past her, just letting her know where I am at all times.

Again, I would just do this all the time from now on alongside your voice commands, so that if / when your dogs hearing does eventually fail he will be used to the hand signals.

Consistency is the key here. But your dog can learn new signals. Good luck.

Booboostoo Sun 30-Mar-14 19:55:58

You can still clicker train him (i.e. Use a marker to identify desirable behaviour and then reward) but use a small torch, the light flicking on is the equivalent of the click noise. Hand signals for commands can work even better than the voice because dogs are very attuned to our body language. I actually rarely use my voice with my hearing dogs because I don't need to. Recall is the only thing you will need to compromise on. Perhaps you need to keep him on the lead unless you are in a safe enclosed area.

Our Border Collie went deaf in his later years. He easily picked up sign language for the essentials but then, he was cleverer than me. I think the idea of using a torch is wonderful and wish I had thought of it.

We have started using signs and words for our young Springer ready for his old age - he is not the brightest soul and it may well take his entire life to get the hang of it! grin

adognamedboo Sun 30-Mar-14 20:35:39

Oh a torch is a great idea, iv got hold of a dog whistle which he is responding to at the moment so recall is still possible.
He is a collie mix and very intelligent so seems to be more aware that he is needing to 'look' more often.
Great ideas and so many I can work with, think it'll take longer to teach the kids!

wheresthelight Sun 30-Mar-14 21:48:19

My sister has a collie that has been deaf since birth. Hand signals are brilliant!! Wagging finger tortellini of, big thumbs up for being good etc. She has taught her lots of new things.

Could you use a wander-lead to walk him if a short lead is no good?

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