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Learning to Adjust to Life with a Deaf Dog

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Jessie, the educated canine, back on the scene with some helpful information about living with a dog who is deaf or going deaf. When you understand what to do, it doesn’t have to be a problem.

First of all, how do you know if your dog is going deaf? Well, he may not obey your commands or will just completely ignore them.  Try snapping your fingers next to your dog’s ears.  Did you get a reaction? Dogs’ ears typically move and twitch as they take in sounds. If his ears remain still, this could be a warning sign that he is going deaf.

According to, handling a dog that is going deaf or is deaf requires adjusting your form of communication with your pet. Instead of relying on verbal cues for commands, switch to visual ones. If you suspect your dog is going deaf, integrate visual cues into the training.  For example, when you tell you dog to “come,” use a hand gesture that parallels that command. Reward you dog when he comes to you by the cue of the hand gesture.  You can soon ease off the verbal commands and fully replace them with visual ones.

If your dog is hard of hearing, it is important to keep him safe when he is outdoors. Always keep him on a leash when outside. Keep a keen eye on him when off leash at the dog park, as he will not hear others around him and can become quite startled.

At home, make your presence known. If you suddenly appear out of nowhere, he can become frightened. Opt for turning on a light switch or blowing on him gently to alert him of your presence. Further, let your dog see where you go in the house so he knows where you are at all times.

To keep your dog from becoming continually startled, practice walking up behind him when he is unaware and touch him gently.  Then, offer a treat when he turns around.

As a deaf dog cannot hear verbal praise for a job well done, you can offer treats or lots of tender, loving affection instead.

Remember, your dog does not have to hear how much you love him. He only has to feel it!



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