Hearing loss in Dogs
The last full week in September is named Deaf Dog Awareness Day. It is estimated that between five and ten percent of dogs in the United States, like Rosie here, are deaf.
Deafness in dogs can cause dogs to feel lonely or isolated, but when you address hearing loss it doesn’t have to. Hearing loss or deafness can also vary on a case by case basis.
To do an at home test of hearing in dogs, check for their responsiveness to various things:
- Loud noises, like knocking or the doorbell
- Keys jingling
- Snapping fingers behind head
- Other dogs barking
- If they are startled when being awoken
Take them to your Vet
Your veterinarian can confirm if your dog has any sort of hearing loss. They will conduct an exam as well as potentially a hearing test to see if your dog has partial or complete hearing loss.
Learning with Hearing Loss
You can teach your pup various hand signals that mean different things, so that even though they cannot hear you they will know when you are trying to get their attention.
In order to make sure they see you, you can stomp on the ground to send vibrations, or buy a specialized collar that sends gentle vibrations. This is not a shock collar, but rather a gentle collar used to get their attention.
In order to make sure you do not startle your dog to your touch, try desensitizing them by petting their back and immediately offering food. It may be frightening to them to be suddenly grabbed, especially if they are sleeping. Make sure to keep them on a leash in public spaces to prevent them from getting too close to cars or anything else that could put them in danger.
Although they might have some unique challenges, dogs with partial or complete hearing loss can still make the most wonderful companions.
The key when working with them is consistency, as you do not want to confuse them. Once you get a routine down for commands like, sit and down, make sure to keep practicing them and offering a reward!