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deaf dogs

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  • deaf dogs

    Does anybody have any good advice about dogs who are losing their hearing? My 11-y-o lab mix has lost (I"m guessing) more than half her hearing in the past few months. We can tell because she doesn't hear us come in the house any more, doesn't hear cars and horses and things at the barn, and doesn't hear us call her any more unless I can get her attention and she sees me calling. Obviously this is going to become dangerous. I never did a lot of signs when I taught her voice commands like "sit," though I've started to combine them and she catches on really fast. I'm struggling most with how to get her attention so I can communicate with her - an example, this morning I needed to put both dogs out before I left for work, and they were both right there in the kitchen. I did the usual, "come on girls, let's go outside" and Anna came right over, and Kaley walked the other way. I hate yelling and really, really don't want to make that a habit so I followed her down the hall and talked to her again (no response) and she startled when I put my hand on her collar - so she's really missing out on a lot of information, because she didn't realize I was following her. I think if she had been watching Anna when I called them to go outside, she would have followed, which I think is why I didn't realize she was losing her hearing until she'd lost so much of it. Now if she doesn't see it, she doesn't know it's happening.

    Any advice or suggestions?

  • #2
    When my Boxer went deaf at 14 (she was an old Boxer) and her concentration went a bit dodgey, when I had her outside, I'd carry a couple tennis balls to toss at her...they'd get her attention.

    I also had worked on hand commands when she was a puppy and kept up with them.

    A flashlight can help some too to get their attention.
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

    Comment


    • #3
      we had a dalmation that was deaf

      all his life, he live to be 13. You just have to plan ahead a little more when you needed to get his attention. He would also bite so we had to watch him closely around others. He never roamed around the farm without a leash and he was always in the fenced back yard. The main thing is protecting her from harm,just remember she can't hear a horse approaching or a car crank up or whatever. It's a little more effort but once you get used to it, it's not really a problem.

      Comment


      • #4
        My 11yo Aussie is losing her hearing as well. I'll try the tennis balls and flashlight. I feel so sad- watching her as she is oblivious to what is going on around her.

        Comment


        • #5
          My sheltie was deaf for the last few years of his life but also mostly blind. He wouldn't walk into things but couldn't see hand signals. We communicated through vibrations. In the house I banged a foot on the ground. To come in I pounded on the door. Good luck!
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home

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          • #6
            When my old labrador went deaf at about 12/13 it was accompanied with failing vision and also when I was quite unwell.

            I'd go off for a little slow walk with the old dog and away he'd start to tootle away further and further from me and heading towards something he'd imagined he'd heard or seen. As I shouted and tried to catch him, he'd speed up! Leaving me shouting and throwing things and trying to make big shapes to silouette against the sun!

            Curiously though if I whispered the word "biscuits" or rattled a plastic bag with biscuits he'd return immediately.

            That's labradors for you!

            I miss him dearly. He was buried at the side of the River Tweed 12 years ago next month.

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            • #7
              I've not had this problem, so I'm just speculating. But I wonder if anyone makes a remote pager-like device that could be attached to a collar. I'm thinking you could train the dog to associate a vibration with a treat and therefore teach it to come to you / look to you for instruction. Sort of like clicker training... but with a physical prompt versus sound.
              "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh

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              • #8
                My nearly 13 year old Brittany is virtually deaf right now. We communicate with loud clapping, hand/body signals, foot stomping, etc. He does fine most of the time.

                Hunting/training "shock" collars usually have a vibrate option and we have the collars but so far have hesitated using it on him; we primarily used these on my PITA younger brittany who would refuse to listen, and never really trained the older one with them. I think at this point he might find it a bit frightening so we haven't tried...but it is definitely something that could be done pretty easily.

                My dog's biggest disadvantage right now is if we go for a "hunting" walk through the bushes and woods. He's still quite enthusiastic about going, unless it's getting dark, and I'm sure he feels pretty vulnerable if he can't see us. But sometimes he does tend to get off on the wrong track and we can't call him back. Since he likes our companionship he tends to circle back and check on us frequently (moreso now that he realizes he can't hear), so we have gotten pretty good at anticipating when he's going off track and prepare to give him a big wave/hand signal when looks back.

                He gets the best sleep right now, though. He looks so happy and peaceful when he's asleep I don't feel bad for him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have a Red Heeler who was born deaf-- and he does very well with some hand signals-- although in the dark that doesn't work, so we use the flashlight in order to gain his attention. We flash it in his eyes and he know that it means to come back.
                  He has never known what it is like to hear, so I can't help with the gradual loss of hearing-- but we have had him since a puppy, and he does well with these methods.
                  We also had him attached to a leash at all times when he was first learning to communicate with eye contact-- we called it his "string"-- when we wanted to get his attention, we pulled on his "string" from the end-- and he learned to turn around and look at us for his command.
                  I have to say that I have 5 dogs, and he is the most obedient of the bunch, the exception being the Border Collie who hates to do anything wrong---ever.
                  The only difference between a runaway and a fast gallop is nothing but a SMILE
                  Most horses cross the Rainbow Bridge, but TEDDY JUMPED IT!!!
                  Member of the COTH Enabler Clique

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                  • #10
                    I've had several old dogs who became deaf in their later years. When getting their attention inside the house I would stomp on the floor and use hand gestures. (One dog found that if he looked away he didn't have to deal with commands, but that was him being "cute"!) I bought a little goat bell and put it on a stretch collar when I had one of the dogs - a JRT outside. At least I could find HER if she couldn't hear me calling. I've not used it for a deaf dog, but I now have an electronic collar (to keep our Pyrennes in line on a 90 acre farm) that has a vibrating setting that would work well for a deaf dog in open spaces. My unit covers 3/4 of a mile range. I use the vibator when I want to remind him to come, but not zap him.
                    www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

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                    • #11
                      Dear old dog..

                      I had a Dobe. She lived 14 years. (Old for a Dobe) The last year, I stamped my foot on the floor to get her attention. She was always leashed outside anyway. Sadly, many of her "tricks" were voice commands and she didn't respond anymore.
                      Equus makus brokus but happy

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                      • #12
                        My first aussie Boo became deaf when he was in his mid teens. I had already fenced in the yard when he became deaf, obviously deaf dogs don't do well on roads and a leash law had been implemented in my county.
                        When Boo would go out into the yard, I would have to walk so that he could see me and motion with my hand for him to come. He had been a seeing eye dog, well he had flunked out of seeing eye school in Calif when he was 2 yoa, so he was very obedient and knew hand signals.

                        You need to keep your dog away from horses and from cars. The deaf border collie at one boarding barn was careful about where she lay and walked, so that horses and cars did not run her down, but that was a small barn with few boarders.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As long as we are talking older dogs that have a lifetime of knowledge behind them and are slowing down, you can confine them so they are safe and then make extra time to be with them, like car trips if they like that and on leash/long lead walks and extra play time.
                          Since most of our dogs are performance dogs, obedience, agility and herding, they all get training time, young and old, so that is not much of a problem.
                          In homes where dogs kind of entertain themselves, becoming deaf or blind or both will just take a little more effort to now make time to make the quality of their lives as good as possible with their problems.

                          If only confining, or just not paying them much attention, old dogs that start having problems seem to become depressed and confused, partly aging and partly not being able to get around as well.

                          With young dogs it is different.
                          We had a dog we fostered as a teenage dog, because he was deaf and the owners didn't want to try to train it and with two little kids, the dog was getting touchy.
                          We kept him and he did fine here with hand signals and ended up being our best turn back "horse" when we were training cutting horses.

                          I bet that if we stop and think, we can find ways to manage our dogs thru those problems.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                            As long as we are talking older dogs that have a lifetime of knowledge behind them and are slowing down, you can confine them so they are safe and then make extra time to be with them, like car trips if they like that and on leash/long lead walks and extra play time.
                            Since most of our dogs are performance dogs, obedience, agility and herding, they all get training time, young and old, so that is not much of a problem.
                            In homes where dogs kind of entertain themselves, becoming deaf or blind or both will just take a little more effort to now make time to make the quality of their lives as good as possible with their problems.

                            If only confining, or just not paying them much attention, old dogs that start having problems seem to become depressed and confused, partly aging and partly not being able to get around as well.

                            With young dogs it is different.
                            We had a dog we fostered as a teenage dog, because he was deaf and the owners didn't want to try to train it and with two little kids, the dog was getting touchy.
                            We kept him and he did fine here with hand signals and ended up being our best turn back "horse" when we were training cutting horses.

                            I bet that if we stop and think, we can find ways to manage our dogs thru those problems.
                            And it is always worth the effort. They are so wise and cool in their old age.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A regular shock collar should be exactly what you need. Try it on yourself on the lowest setting - you may not even feel it. What you want it to turn it up until your dog notices it - to the degree he/she looks around briefly. No digging at their neck, not making a sound, not cowering etc.

                              When you want your dog's attention you just 'page' your dog. ]]

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thanks for all the comments and good advice. I think the collar set to vibrate might be exactly what we need, and I know a couple people who have them and might be willing to lend it to us to try before I invest. I know what you mean, Bluey, about needing to rethink what we do with the older ones so they don't get left home alone all the time while we do the fun stuff without them. Our other lab aged faster than Kaley, so Kaley has been stuck home more in the past couple years than I would have liked and I was starting to see some behavior last winter that concerned me - though now I wonder if that coincided with the beginning of the hearing loss. Anyway, we're getting better about taking them to the barn (and watching them more closely!) when we're making a quick trip and they seem a lot happier. Now, hopefully, I'll have a way for her to be happy AND safe.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have a 14 year old Sheltie that has been slowly loosing his hearing. A few things that have worked for getting his attention:

                                  Stomping the floor
                                  Sharp loud clapping sound (he seems to hear this better than a shout)
                                  Turning the lights on and off

                                  If he is awake the lights work really well. When he goes outside in the early morning or after dark, I can just flip the porch light on and off and he comes.
                                  The really difficult scenerio is when he is asleep. Sometimes he sleeps so soundly that even petting him doesn't wake him (thank goodness he snores or I'd be in a panic <g>).

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I have a congenitally deaf Aussie (he's been deaf since birth, and is now 7 going on 8) and he wore a vibrating collar for a couple of years when he was a distractable youth. We don't bother with it anymore now that he's so sophisticated and attentive.

                                    Just load the collar like a clicker, in the sense that you vibrate - treat! vibrate - treat! vibrate - treat! again and again. When you press the button and you get instant attention (of course the dog just wants his cheese cube), you're well on your way to using it as a way to recall the dog from a distraction, over a long distance, or in a dangerous setting (dog going into traffic, etc.). You can gradually increase distance and decrease frequency of treats but do keep it positive by rewarding a response.
                                    My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

                                    Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      p.s.

                                      When you're indoors, stomping on the floor with your foot or slamming a door can get the dog's attention. After dark, flick the lights on and off. Paisley knows that a flickering porch light means it's time to come in.
                                      My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

                                      Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by didgery View Post
                                        I have a congenitally deaf Aussie (he's been deaf since birth, and is now 7 going on 8) and he wore a vibrating collar for a couple of years when he was a distractable youth. We don't bother with it anymore now that he's so sophisticated and attentive.

                                        Just load the collar like a clicker, in the sense that you vibrate - treat! vibrate - treat! vibrate - treat! again and again. When you press the button and you get instant attention (of course the dog just wants his cheese cube), you're well on your way to using it as a way to recall the dog from a distraction, over a long distance, or in a dangerous setting (dog going into traffic, etc.). You can gradually increase distance and decrease frequency of treats but do keep it positive by rewarding a response.
                                        That could work well, the vibration as a tap on the shoulder, the way electronic collars are used by herding and field trainers, when the dogs are roaming too far for voice or whistle.

                                        Interesting to load the vibrating from close up, as with starting clicker training, so the signal means "watch me, pay attention".

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