Deaf Dogs & Their Stereotypes

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(facebook.com/braillethedoublemerle)

Every dog and every breed or mix of breeds come with their fair share of stereotypes. Bully breeds are aggressive, Border Collies need sheep to work,  Chihuahuas are ankle biters, Poodles are dainty, and the list goes on and on. When you take on a dog, you take on their stereotypes. It's up to you whether or not you dispel them.

As a deaf dog owner (a deaf dog of a breed that's also stereotyped) I do everything I can to break away the stereotypes surrounding my girl.

First and foremost, if you have a deaf dog, remember that they are a dog before they are deaf, and they are their breed or mix before they are deaf. This mean you have to deal with dog behavior and breed-specific behavior before you even focus on their deafness. This can be especially frustrating in high-energy breeds, but it's important to understand your dog is normal aside from being deaf and its behaviors are often explained by it's breed make-up.

Let's touch on a few of those pesky deaf dog stereotypes and how they just aren't true!

Deaf dogs can't have a good or full life.

Deafness doesn't equate to living a pitiful life. Most dogs show no signs of being deaf and without the owner disclosing, you'd have no idea! Being deaf is much more difficult on us than it is on dogs, especially if they were born that way. There are deaf dogs around the world doing everything that hearing dogs do! Agility, obedience, search and rescue, dock diving, you name it and I'm sure someone has trained their deaf dog to do it.

Deaf dogs will startle and bite.
Any dog has the potential to startle, but a dog that cannot hear could be spooked a little easier. It's important to train your dog to be comfortable being touched in different areas. You should also make them comfortable being woken up spontaneously.

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(facebook.com/kellerthedm)

Deaf dogs are harder to train.
In my opinion, it's easier to train a deaf dog. They focus on you and your movement because they cannot hear what is happening around them. Dogs rely so much on body language as it is, the verbal command is not the main way they communicate.

Deaf dogs can never be off leash.

It's not recommended to let ANY dog off leash without proper training; their hearing is irrelevant. There are many ways you can train a deaf dog to be off leash. You can train your deaf dog to naturally check in with you and then use a sign for come, much as you would call a hearing dog. There are also vibrating collars (NOT to be confused with shock/e-collars) that can be very helpful in this type of training.

Always remember that each dog is an individual and what works for one, may not work for another. Keep your training fun and positive and be sure to end on a good note!


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Positively Expert: Amanda Fuller

Amanda, with her dog Keller, are deaf dog advocates, doing everything they can to remove the stigma around owning special need pets. Do you know what a double merle is? Amanda can tell you.


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