Living With a Deaf Pet
Deafness in animals is found in dogs, cats, ferrets, and even horses. Owning a deaf pet brings extra challenges. There is no difference if your pet was born deaf, had an illness that brought on deafness, had a drug reaction, or old age brought about his special need.
Deaf humans and animals rely on senses other than hearing to get through the day and night. Light, vibration, and movement is what your deaf pet will respond to.
Things you can do are use a flashlight to catch get his attention through eyesight, stomp on the floor with your foot to create a vibration, at close range sharp handclaps might provide enough vibration in the air to get your deaf pet’s attention, or wave your arms in front of him for movement. Other ways to get your deaf pet’s attention: flip a light switch on and off, lightly blow on his back, or toss a ball near him.
Put a deaf dog harness on your dog when walking with your deaf dog.
Because your deaf pet cannot hear your voice, use your hands and facial expressions for communication. Most owners of deaf pets use the hand signs and signals from the American Sign Language (ASL) or adapt your own hand language. Signing Made Easy can help you adapt the easier signals for specialized training for your deaf dog.
A Deaf Dog Joins the Family is an excellent informative book about living with a deaf pet that includes information about training and communication.
You should never surprise any pet, even if his hearing is perfect. If your deaf pet is sleeping and you want his attention touch him gently on his shoulder or back. Use the same spot every time. A gentle touch from your hands will feel safe, but don’t pat him on the head because this might be interpreted as threatening when trying to awake him.
Be gentle and very patient with your deaf pet. When training use lots of praise or treats with positive reinforcement. Smile when you are pleased with him. He can see you!
Outside, always keep your deaf dog on a leash. Let people you might encounter on walks who want to pet your dog, that he is deaf and to approach him from under his chin palm up. It’s a good idea to let your dog smell their hand first.
When purchasing a name tag for your deaf pet’s collar include the information ‘DEAF’ or ‘I AM DEAF’ along with name and other information. If your pet is lost, whoever finds him will understand he has special needs.
Because a deaf dog cannot hear cars or other dangers approaching outside, never allow your deaf pet to roam freely outdoors unless it is in a securely fenced enclosure.