Considering the things we’ll need in the future   Leave a comment


There are a lot of things to consider when taking on a deaf dog or even considering it. You need to consider training and trainers, boarding accommodations, training equipment as well as all the normal dog things like a crate, what food you want to feed, vets, what kind of collar you want to use and how to puppy-proof your home.  Getting a deaf dog is a bit like adopting a deaf child.  You need to have some idea of what the future holds and not just in temperament, preferably before making a final decision.  This goes doubly for an animal that will likely outweigh its owner by the time it is fully grown, though even a tiny little chihuahua needs to have these considerations.

Perhaps the first and most important consideration is contacting trainers in your area.  Dog training is never the easiest thing on the planet.  If you’re not used to talking about virtually everything with your hands, you need to get help from a trainer to get started with your training and probably for support throughout your dog’s life.  There are dozens of guides out there for picking a trainer who works for you, but there are a couple of questions you need to ask a potential trainer in addition to the ones listed on other blogs and sites.  Two of the most important are “Do you allow deaf puppies in your puppy socialization classes?” and “Have you ever trained a deaf dog before?”  You want to make sure that your puppy is going to be properly socialized, just like any other puppy.  You want to know that your animal’s particular challenges are something that the trainer is aware of.

After determining that the trainer has trained a deaf dog before, you should ask how many deaf dogs he or she has trained, what kind of techniques they recommend and why.  Another good question is if they have trained a deaf dog of your breed/breeds.  There are a wide variety of techniques for training dogs and not all dogs respond to all techniques, just like not all children learn in the same ways.  You’re looking for a trainer who can explain the whys of his or her philosophy, who is willing to be flexible and who espouses ideals that you are comfortable with.  We’re very lucky, our breeder is putting us in contact with a trainer friend of hers who has deaf danes, but we had already started the process of narrowing the field of trainers in Toronto from the day that we saw pictures of Castiel and were so sure he was to be ours, even before we got the call saying he was.

An addendum to this is that, once you have found your trainer, you need to discuss any specialized training equipment that you may need.  There are items such as vibration collars that may be useful.  You might use a flashlight in ‘clicker’ training. You need to be aware of the added expense of these items.

Another consideration, one that didn’t occur to us until today, is finding boarding.  We need to talk to our breeder about this, as some breeders offer boarding to their puppies and, obviously, that’s the best option in most cases.  Otherwise, you need to call boarding kennels and find someone willing to board your animal.  There are tonnes of guides on picking a good boarding kennel for your dog out there (most importantly, ask your trainer and your breeder/rescue who they might recommend) but there are, as always, extra considerations with a deaf animal.

You need to interview them and make sure that they are willing to board a deaf animal and, additionally, if they are a good match for your particular animal.  This isn’t something you can wait to do until you’re going on vacation.

Imagine, if you will, someone in your family falls ill or has an accident.  They are hospitalized.  You are spending 24 hours a day at the hospital with your family member in the ICU.  Or, even worse, you’re a single parent to your deaf dog and you are hospitalized.  Who is going to look after your dog?  A deaf dog differs from a hearing dog in the views of others as much as anything else.  You need to have someone, somewhere, who you trust 100% to look after your dog in the event of an emergency, from the moment your dog comes home.  An emergency might never arise, but wouldn’t you rather know that you’re prepared?  Wouldn’t you rather know that your animal has the security of people who will know his commands?

It isn’t as simple as just anyone because your dog is deaf.  Most dogs have a couple of standard commands.  Sit.  Stay.  Down.  No.  Those are virtually universal, but with a deaf dog, they are useless.  Waving your hands aimlessly is only going to excite the animal.  Signs need to be directed and the same each time.  Any dog walkers or kennels you employ need to know them.

One last consideration has to do with your vet.  Most vets will work on any animal, regardless of hearing impairment, but you must find one who, along with their vet techs, is willing to learn your animal’s signs.  Were there an issue that required the animal to stay overnight, your vet needs to know these things.

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