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Friday, September 26, 2014

Deaf Dog Myth # 6

Deaf Dog Myth # 6
Deaf dogs bark a lot because they can't hear themselves bark. 
Or ... deaf dogs don't bark.

I have heard both of these comments.  I have met many deaf dogs – and they all do bark.  Some bark extensively.  But I have met many more hearing dogs that bark excessively!  And they can apparently hear themselves bark.  So I don’t buy either of these myths.  Two of my deaf dogs that I adopted as adults were barkers when I brought them home.  They quickly learned a signal cue for quiet and learned to be quiet, just like my hearing dogs.  There was no need to resort to bark collars or debarking.  Just using positive reinforcement training. My deaf dogs are a breed known to be barkers.  They had never had someone communicate to them that they would prefer quiet, nor teach them what quiet meant.  Once I taught them what quiet meant and that I enjoyed quiet more than barking, they got quieter. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deaf Dog Myth # 5

Deaf Dog Myth # 5
If I adopt a deaf dog I won't be able to do ___
(agility, therapy, obedience, rally, etc)

Deaf dogs are most certainly out there and participating in dog sports and activities!  Many are competing and winning titles and awards.  Deaf dogs learn very quickly to watch our body language cues.  Training my deaf dogs has made me a better handler for all my dogs, even my hearing dogs.  They have made me aware of how just a slight change in my posture or body language can communicate so much to my dogs! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Deaf Dog Myth # 4

Deaf Dog Myth # 4
Deaf dogs have other health problems or won't live as long
or be as healthy as other dogs.

As far as I know, deafness has not been linked to any other health problems.  My deaf dogs are all healthy with no issues.  Many hearing dogs have health problems, and I’m sure there are many deaf dogs with health issues as well.  But these health issues are in addition to the deafness, not because of it.  Some deafness is caused by genetics.  Breeders should educate themselves about how to remove these genetic lines from their breeding dogs.  When adopting a dog, it’s important to find out as much as you can about the dog’s health and genetic history so you can make informed decisions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Deaf Dog Myth # 3

Deaf Dog Myth # 3
Deaf dogs are more likely to bite when they wake up or if
they are startled.

Do deaf dogs have teeth?  Yes, most of them do – but so do most hearing dogs.  Any dog with teeth is capable of biting!  Any dog!  Hearing or deaf.  I hear several times each month about people that were bitten by dogs – and interestingly, all of these dogs can hear just fine.  It’s important to teach any dog to allow itself to be touched by people and to be woken up gently.  Every time you wake up your deaf dog, you should have a special treat to give her as soon as her eyes open.  Will she jump a bit and startle?  Probably.  But hearing dogs startle too – as do people.  Startling is a natural reflexive behavior.  The dog doesn’t have any control over it.  It just happens.  A dog that is used to getting good things when she’s woken up will startle and very quickly look to you for something good to happen.  After a while, this will become a habit and you won’t need the treat every time.  But it’s a good idea to use a treat every now and then.   It’s also important to be polite and gentle when waking up your dog.  It’s not fair to sneak up on her and then wake her up suddenly. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Deaf Dog Myth # 2

Deaf Dog Myth # 2
Deaf dogs are harder to train than hearing dogs.


On the contrary!  Deaf dogs pay such close attention to our cues and the cues from the environment around them, that they learn at an astonishing rate.  However, they can just as easily learn behaviors that we don’t want them to do, as they can learn to do what we do want.  So it’s important to establish a signal right away that lets your dog know that you liked what she is doing.  This way you can reinforce behaviors quickly that you like.  The more you reinforce those behaviors you like, the more often those behaviors will happen.  And set up the environment and always supervise so you can interrupt and redirect behaviors you don’t want right away so they don’t become habits.  No dog is born understanding human words or body language, so it is up to us to teach them – both hearing and deaf dogs. 


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Deaf dog Myth # 1

Deaf Dog Myth # 1
If I adopt a deaf dog, I need to have a hearing dog as well.

Many people think that a deaf dog needs to have a hearing dog to follow around.  This is not necessary.  Although, if you do have a hearing dog, your deaf dog will watch him closely for cues to things that are important to him – mealtimes, going for a walk, etc.  A deaf dog will also watch you closely to see what cues you give.  Sometimes your deaf dog will notice cues that you aren’t even aware you are giving!  They are very good observers!  Deaf dogs are individuals, just like people and hearing dogs are.  Some enjoy the company of other dogs, while some may not.  There is nothing wrong with having hearing dogs if you adopt a deaf dog.  There is nothing wrong with having only deaf dogs either!  Don’t get a hearing dog with the expectation that he will take on the role to “help” your deaf dog.  This is a neat thing to watch when it happens, but the truth is that the majority of times it does not happen.  The dogs will develop a relationship, but it’s usually the deaf dog that learns to just observe and learn cues. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014