Updated: Jan 6
Being a Deaf Dalmatian owner and a Dog Trainer, I often get messages and questions from new and potential deaf dog owners discussing various worries that they have heard or read about.
When researching on the internet for example you can easily stumble across a variety of deaf dog myths, stating that deaf dogs are untrainable, aggressive and unable to be let off the lead. One particular site even recommends that they should all be put down upon finding out they are deaf. Understandably a lot of new owners read this and feel very overwhelmed and concerned! As I own two deaf Dalmatians I try and write articles to help promote what great pets deaf dogs can make! However I am just one of the hundreds of owners that share their homes with a deaf dog and I feel it is important for us to write about our experiences with them to help ease the minds of others just starting out with theirs. The Deaf Dog Network is a group for those of us with deaf dogs, it is a great support network and is full of amazing information and owners regularly post about what they and their dogs have been up to. I asked the DDN what they would like the general public and new deaf dog owners to know about their dogs and many people offered a variety of different information and experiences.
The most commonly occurring answer to the question was that deaf dog owners don’t want people to feel sorry for their dogs. Many deaf dogs are born deaf and so they don't know any different. To them, not being able to hear has always been normal. In fact deaf dogs can do EVERYTHING that a hearing dog can do, with several owners explaining they take part in activities such as agility with their deaf animals. A lot of the owners went on to say that the bond they have with their deaf dog is often more than any bond they have had with a hearing one. This is because they find that their deaf pets are a lot more attentive to movements and body language, they tend to like to know where you are as they cannot hear you moving from one room to the next for exmple.
One of the major myths is that deaf dogs are untrainable and speaking from experience I know this is not true. These dogs are deaf, not dumb (as quoted by several owners). They take no extra effort to train in comparison to hearing dogs and they readily take part in off lead exercise, agility, obedience and trick training; my Dalmatians for example know how to roll over, play dead, speak, take my socks off and close doors!
Deaf dogs are actually taught in exactly the same way as hearing ones, except instead of a vocal cue, a visual cue like a hand signal is used. No one should worry about being able to train their deaf dog!
As well as the benefit of a deaf dog not having any noise phobias such as thunderstorms and fireworks, a few people even suggested that their deaf dogs seem to have had a calming influence over their other hearing animals. A few of the owners of deaf dogs that make up the Deaf Dog Network even suggested that hand signals should be a way of communicating for all dogs. Especially as a loss of hearing becomes common in older, more senior dogs. These dogs do not know that they have a disability and they certainly don’t let their lack of hearing hold them back.