Things you need to know before deciding to adopt a deaf dog


If you are in the process of deciding whether to adopt a dog that is deaf, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. In this post, we have broken down everything that you should know about deaf dogs. You can also contact us if you have any other questions you would like answered.

How to tell if your dog is deaf


To find out if your puppy is deaf or hard-of-hearing, there are a few basic at-home tests you can use. These can include making sounds to attract the attention of the dog or rattling your keys close to the dog’s ears to see if they respond. If you think that the dog is struggling to hear, you might want to take your pup to a vet in order to run the official BAER test.

How to train a deaf dog

Similar to any other type of dog, training a dog that is deaf will take a bit of patience and time. There are a few ways that hearing and deaf dogs learn things in a similar way. Consistency, repetition, and reward are the foundations of success. However, there are a couple of important differences:

It is important that you initiate eye-contact with your deaf dog before you will be able to start training them. Even though eye-contact is vital when it comes to training any type of dog, it is even more important when you train a deaf puppy or dog. Because the dog is unable to hear you, making eye-contact is their method of “listening” and responding to you. For this reason it is essential to implement and then reward eye contact that is regular in the earlier stages of training your deaf dog.

“Since dogs share their natural environment with us humans, our emotional vocalisations are likely to be of relevance to them,” says Dr. Keith Maitland, animal chiropractor. “It indicates our close relationship”, but because a deaf dog cannot experience this Dr. Keith Maitland advises, “visual and physical cues are of extreme importance to build the same close relationship”.

A deaf dog relies on cues that are visual. As soon as you have established the attention of the dog, you can then move onto associating different behaviors using hand cues. It is common for many dog owners to make use of different hand signals when it comes to training hearing dogs, but a few words such as “yes” or “no”, is more difficult to represent using your hand. When your deaf puppy responds poorly to a command, or when they respond well, you need to find a way to let them know visually. It is also important to create an appropriate signal for the name you have given your dog.

Training your dog with visual cues can become difficult when the dog is not looking at you directly, for instance when they are a distance away from you, or when they have their back turned to you. You can use a collar that vibrates which will send the dog physical cues as soon as they are not in sight or not looking at you.

The challenges involved with living with a dog that is deaf

Challenges-of-living-with-a-deaf-dogTraining a puppy or a dog that is deaf will take a lot of patience, but becomes very similar to training a hearing dog, once you have learned a few different techniques. There are other challenges that come with owning a dog that is deaf in your general day-to-day life.

For example, a deaf dog is much easier to startle. You need to be mindful that they are unable to hear others or you approaching. It is better to try and practice walking towards them so that they can see you coming. It is also important to encourage your children to not pet the dog from behind. You could also practice stomping your feet as you approach a deaf dog to alert them that you are coming towards them. In order to wake a deaf dog up, touch the dog gently on their shoulder, and avoid touching the dog’s head.

In fact, your deaf dog is capable of teaching you to be more mindful as psychotherapist and mental health expert Wendy Corliss of Living Consciously explains: “Perhaps one of the greatest psychological benefits of interacting with a dog is the opportunity it provides to be more mindful — to purposely focus your attention on the present moment”.

Establish a routine. An easy way to offer any type of dog with security and comfort is to implement a regular daily routine. Walk and feed your dog on a regular schedule, and use these similar cues for meal times or bath time. It is important to try and establish as much stability as possible for your puppy.

Make sure your yard is fenced in, and always make sure your dog is wearing a leash before you walk them. Exercise is important for all types of dog, yet calling a dog that is deaf to return to you, is not possible with these pups. A deaf dog is also not able to sense any hazards such as an oncoming car or wildlife. This is why on-leash walks and a yard that is fenced in is very important to keep your dog safe.

Reasons to think about adopting a dog that is deaf

Reasons-to-adopt-a-deaf-dogJust about any person that has the correct home, love and patience should or can consider the prospect of adopting a dog that is deaf.

The overwhelming mental benefits of dog adoption is explained by Counsellor and Family Therapist Glenn Munt at Thinking Families “The presence of a pet, especially a dog, provides a calming environment and provides a focus that is caring and positive as opposed to negative such as many people with depression experience. Your pet provides unconditional love and acceptance”.

Similar to other types of adoption, the factor that is more important is to determine whether you or the pup have chemistry to develop a lasting and loving bond.


Written by: Sarah Springer

How to communicate with a deaf dog

deaf dog care - How to communicate with a deaf dog

If you want to make sure your hard-of-hearing best friend has the best possible life and feels safe, being able to communicate effectively with them is one of the most important things you’ll need to learn to do.

No matter whether your dog was born with hearing problems or has started to go deaf with age, if you want to communicate with a deaf dog hand signals are going to be critical.

Deaf dog hand signals can be a combination of hand commands that you’d normally use in dog training, along with ones of your own you can make up using some of the signs from American Sign Language, and are motions that allow you to communicate with your deaf dog in a clear and concise manner. If you’re after some ideas for signals, the image below is from ResearchGate ☺


When you find out that you have a deaf dog, the best way to start the training process is by signing to your pooch throughout the entire day as well as talking to them still. Essentially, you will be using hand signals for everything in their daily routine. For example, when it is time to eat you will want to come up with a sign for the eating action. This sign could be a hand motion or a letter, you might want to use the letter “B” for bowl or “F” for food – the choice is yours.

The main thing to remember is that signing to your dog doesn’t require immense knowledge of sign language, you just need to create signs that you can remember easily and use to communicate with. As you go through your day, you will want to sign things repetitively, so you start to train these symbols and embed them into your dog’s routine and mind – just like most dogs will get excited when they see you pick up their leash because they know that means walk time.

Learning how to communicate with a deaf dog can be an exciting and funny experience for both you and your dog. Dogs communicate well, deaf or not, and they will often show you what signs work for them. Don’t be surprised if your dog starts to teach you what deaf dog hand signals that they want you to use! Some deaf dogs will teach you in the form of call and response. This means that they will respond to certain hand signals over others, this also shows how much they understand.

Another great and easy training signal is pointing. As you are moving and walking point in the direction you want your dog to pay attention too. This helps the dog learn direction signaling, and it can be extremely useful when calling them inside the house or showing them what direction they need to go in.

Getting a deaf dog’s attention

The first thing you’re going to need to do is learn how to get your dog’s attention. Getting a deaf dog’s attention isn’t as easy as yelling their name, since they can’t hear anything, so the first thing to do is come up with a way to get them to look at you. One of the most popular ways to do this is by touching your dog and then touching your nose, this creates a “watch me” sign. Using a sign such as “watch me” tells your dog that you have something to say and they need to pay attention. When the dog looks at you after you complete the “watch me” sign you will want to use an open hand motion acknowledging that they are paying attention. This is a visual marker that creates communication between you and your dog. Eventually you will be able to get your deaf dog’s attention by using these hand signals, and before long, it will become second nature for you and your dog.

Don’t forget that your deaf dog will still be watching your face for visual clues – in a 2018 study, scientists found that dogs are able to recognize and respond to human facial expressions. With their sense of hearing taken away, your deaf dog will be watching you even more keenly and like all dogs, will want to make their human happy. So if you’re pleased with what they’re doing, make sure you give them a smile and a pat to reinforce the behavior as well.

Every dog is unique, and they all have their own quirks – and deaf dogs are no different. With some practice, patience and perseverance, you and your dog will learn to communicate with each other and create an unbreakable lifelong bond that will bring both of you a lot of happiness.