Puppies, like people, have the potential to be differently-abled. One quality that requires particular attention on an owner’s part is deafness. Pet guardians may initially wonder how to teach their dog basic commands, such as “come” or “lay down”. With research, however, obedience is easily taught with a hand signal-based program. If you are living with a deaf puppy, and can commit to customized training, your dog will make the transition into adulthood as readily as any other pet.
Before the training process begins, it is important to realize that resources exist to assist owners of deaf dogs. Utilizing these resources is key to developing an effective program. The Deaf Dog Education Action Fund, better known as DDEAF, offers detailed ownership guides and a list of hand signals that animals readily respond to. Their website should be bookmarked on the computers of all families with differently-abled puppies.
If you find that you need more personal assistance, visit your veterinarian. There, professionals will be able to provide you with informed advice tailored to your family’s situation. Should your puppy be crate trained? What should you do if your dog doesn’t respond to a particular hand signal? These questions are best answered on a case-to-case basis by an expert, as not all puppies will react to training methods the same way.
Owners will inevitably realize, however, that the challenges of raising a puppy that can hear are the same as the challenges of raising a deaf one. The only noticeable difference between the two is that the former uses a voice-based program, while the latter uses a hand signal-based one. However, owners of deaf dogs may notice that they occasionally startle their puppy by accident. To prevent this, it is essential that the dog be aware of where you are in the room at all times. Startling a dog can make them jumpy and possibly fearful of people. All interactions with human beings should be positive, and fright is never a positive interaction.
Vibrating collars are a valuable tool that can prevent this. Vibrating collars work almost like a television’s remote control – when you press a button on a small, hand held device, your dog’s collar will vibrate gently. This is an excellent way to get the animal’s attention when he or she is focusing on another activity, such as sleeping or watching people walk past a window. Although not a necessity, these items can be conducive to training. The Deaf Dog Education Fund suggests vibrating collars be lightweight, waterproof, and cost under $100.
Finally, as with all puppies, reward positive behavior. When your pet masters a new hand signal, give him or her a treat. This is key to teaching your new companion what type of behavior is expected of them. There are few limits on what type of treats can be given to dogs, but dental-friendly or vegetarian snacks are recommended, such as Greenies. Owners should also consider whether standard, vegetarian, or organic treats will be best for their animal’s health.
No matter how much positive reinforcement you give, however, training a puppy is never an easy task. Deaf pets simply require hand signal-based training, and perhaps a unique collar to show off at the park.