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It may not be a surprise to know just how important Guide Dogs are to their owners. They provide assistance to the blind and partially sighted and create a life changing bond for their owners. But what about if the dog itself is blind or partially sighted? Or what about if the dog is deaf or hard of hearing? Would you offer the same assistance for them?
Did you know that some dog breeds have a deafness rate of at least 40%. This National Dog Awareness Week, head down to your local adoption or training centre and help celebrate these special dogs.
Whilst deaf dogs have special needs they can be loyal companions for their owners. They may not be able to properly hear when you call out to them but they will still offer an unconditional amount of love.
If you are thinking about adopting a deaf dog, or suspect your dog is hard of hearing, here are some tips on how to care for them:
How do I know if my dog is deaf?
If you suspect your dog is deaf, you may wish to try out this quick test: Once your dog is asleep, make a loud noise behind them. Ensure they can’t see you at the time of making the loud noise and check they cannot feel any vibrations from the sound. You could try clapping your hands, drumming on top of a table or blowing a whistle to check for their range of hearing. You may find your dog can hear the high range of the whistle but not the low range of the table, or vice versa.
If you still find your dog isn’t responding to your calls , such as running to you when you put food down or when someone knocks on the front door, it may be worth taking them to the vet to get their hearing properly tested.
Some causes of deafness could include repeated or untreated ear infections, ageing or injury, but it is worth confirming the reason with your vet.
Keep them safe
Deaf dogs would be unable to hear for danger, such as the sound of a car, so keep them on a lead when you take them out. You could also put a bell on their collar along with a small tag with your contact information and a note that advises they are deaf, just in case they were ever to go missing.
At night, you may find that flashing a torch helps to get their attention and during the day you could try signalling to your dog using specific face expressions or arm movements and touch.
There is no trick to training them. The only difference would be to make sure you use hand signals instead of verbal commands. Ensure you create a strong and clear hand signal for each action you would like your dog to learn and be consistent with them.
Deaf dogs can have an amazing life. They can do anything a hearing dog can do – obedience, agility and are a great source of therapy for their owners. But sadly, a lot of deaf dogs end up in dog shelters as the owners aren’t properly educated on how to care for them. So familiarise yourself with the above and pop in to see you local deaf dogs in shelters today.
They will really love you for it!