Training an adult deaf dog

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domerdog
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Training an adult deaf dog

Post by domerdog » Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:51 am

We adopted a mail Beagle, probably about 10 years old, from a rescue group about 6 weeks ago. We realized after a couple of weeks that he's totally deaf. He's quite smart and picked up on hand gestures and reads facial expressions quite well, so we didn't realize he was deaf at first. Our other dog went through obedience training and the advanced class used hand signals so I've started trying to use these signals with Monk. He's very sweet and smart and I think he'll learn quickly. I got him a vibrating color (not shock) and I'm trying to teach him that when it vibrates he needs to turn his attention to me. My biggest worry is that it's difficult to get his attention if he's not looking at me. He tends to keep his eye on me or my husband, but if he sees something interesting you have to get in his line of sight to give him a command. I bought a book called "Hear, Hear" about training a deaf dog, but it's not really that good.

Has anyone else trained an adult deaf dog? Do you have any tips for me?

Thanks for the help.

domerdog
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Re: Training an adult deaf dog

Post by domerdog » Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:55 am

Sorry, as I re-read my post - we adopted a MALE beagle (not a mail beagle).

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Noobs
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Re: Training an adult deaf dog

Post by Noobs » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:22 am

domerdog wrote: I got him a vibrating color (not shock) and I'm trying to teach him that when it vibrates he needs to turn his attention to me.
How are you teaching him this? You can "charge it up" like a clicker. Vibrate=cheese. Vibrate=cheese. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Horace's Mum has a deaf dog. You would do well to search out her posts.

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Horace's Mum
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Re: Training an adult deaf dog

Post by Horace's Mum » Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:03 am

Hi, i have a deaf lurchery thing who I adopted at 3 years old, he has been deaf since birth. He now knows over 50 hand signals, many more gestures and facial expressions, and does agility, obedience and heelwork to music. Deaf dogs really aren't that difficult to train once you get your head around it, you just have to think outside the box a little more at times!!

I don't use a vibrating collar for attention at all - I would rather Horus learnt to keep an eye out for me and listen to me as a habit than rely on something that could fail when I least want it to. This does mean that I need to be more active, for example in the house I need to get up and move myself to be in his eyeline, but it isn't a problem once you get used to it. You will find that as time goes by your dog will naturally start to watch out for you more, especially once he realises that you are communicating with him, remember he will take up to 6 months to really settle in, sometimes longer. At the moment it is difficult for him to look out for you because he doesn't really know you yet, and there are so many exciting things to see!! Also, he is a beagle, they are very independent creatures, you will probably have to accept that he will never be completely offlead - mine does go offlead but only in certain places and after months of very regular consistent training, and I never stop reinforcing his recall. He spends a lot of time on a longline which gives him all the freedom he needs but keeps me in control of the situation when needed. I do however use a collar as a clicker, and purely as a clicker, and I would really strongly suggest keeping your for this purpose, especially if you have a bright boy on your hands!

The first thing to work on, lots, is a "watch me" and general focus. The watch me is taught the same as any other dog, and if you teach it strongly enough it is a great way to deal with strong distractions - it is almost a default mode for Horus these days, makes him switch off almost anything else. The best way I find to train any dog, but especially deafies, is to just integrate your training into everything you do, rather than set aside training sessions. So use every opportunity to ask him to sit, wait, come, etc and make sure you always have treats very close by for the first few months! Food is usually your biggest friend, so make sure you have a good variety and can get your hands on it quickly.

To call Horus, he has a touch sign on his bottom, and one behind his right ear. The gentle touch to his bottom, sometimes a tap if he is really distracted, means "I want you, turn around and listen please". The touch behind his ear is for when we are lead walking, it is a combined "you are getting ahead, please wait for me", a request to watch me for further instructions, and also a way to get his attention when he has been good and I need to tell him instantly. You have to take care teaching this to desensitise the touch, because some dogs can startle until they learn the meaning, but it is well worth it.

You may need to do startle training, if he tends to jump when someone touches him or walks past. Just practise touching him, brushing past him etc and if he is really jumpy then use it as a chance to say "I have food!". Over time he will get used to you moving around anyway, as long as you don't do daft things like running past him!!

If you really can't deal with having a dog that you need to touch or move in order to communicate with, then you really need to think if you are the best home for him. But if you can throw away the idea that he should watch you all the time in case you want to talk to him, and open your mind to new ways of communication, and learn from that experience, then owning a deaf dog is a real privilege and such a joy - I honestly do have far far better communication with Horus than most people have with there hearing dogs, because we have both had to learn to understand each other rather than me training meaningless words and not respecting my dog as his own being. Deaf dogs are brilliant, and once you get the hang of it then the only limit to your fun is you own imagination - but I am more than happy to help you along the way as much as you need, even for the tiniest, silliest questions!!

So fire away, ask anything and an answer will come your way!!

domerdog
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Re: Training an adult deaf dog

Post by domerdog » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:31 am

Monk is really good at watching me when we're out. He regularly turns to see where I am. If he goes out to pee, he does his business then immediately looks at me. He seems to know this, so perhaps wherever he was before had trained him some. He's pretty good with the come command signal so what I've done with the collar is to vibrate it and give him the come command and give him a treat. He's now getting to realize when the collor vibrates he immediately turns to me and heads my way. The nice thing about beagles is that they are usually very food oriented so it makes treat training work pretty well.

He is not a runner (interestingly neither was our prior beagle). When we go outside he stays very close by and likes to keep me or my husband in his sight. The exception is when he sees another dog - he loves, loves, loves dogs - and will start to walk over to anyone he sees. This is why I need to keep alert. When we leave our yard he's on a lead so he's not running around all over. The other day my husband and I were working in the yard and Monk stayed right by us, laying down or sniffing close by. When my husband moved and he and I were working in two different spots, Monk positioned himself so he could see both of us. I think he knows that sight is his main communication with us. He has also picked up cues from our other dog. When I give her the signal to go inside, he follows and has learned to do this on his own.

My main stumbling block is how do I make sure he knows he's being praised for being good without giving him a treat. I think he's reading my face, because he wags his tail when I sweet talk him. I want to continue to give him positive reinforcement but can't always give him a treat.

Horace's Mom - thanks for the 6 months guideline. I know I have to be very consistent with him - even more so than with our hearing dog.

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Re: Training an adult deaf dog

Post by Horace's Mum » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:45 am

Ah, sorry, forgot that bit! Do yo have a "good boy" sign? I use a thumbs up, prime it the same way you would a clicker, but eventually it you can use it the same way you would just to say good boy. But smiling is also an excellent way to say well done. I also use clapping as a kind of super well done, when he has done really well.

Do be careful letting him off just yet, make sure you really know he will always keep you in sight. He will be clingy to begin with because you have just taken him on, but you might well find as he gets more confident and at home that he starts to become more independent, and you don't want to find that out when he is heading for trouble and you have nothing to fall back on. If he has a good recall now, really reinforce that, reward him every time he looks with a thumbs up and a treat, you can gradually reduce the treats but I wouldn't get rid of them completely. I also practice telling him to stay rather than come, to let me catch up, because sometimes that is more useful, and also directing him over to one side or another.

It does sound like he has been trained as a deaf dog, I thought maybe it was old age and he wouldn't be used to it, but maybe you are lucky and someone has done the work with him. Do you know his history? Didn't think deafness was common in beagles, but it can come from damage too or just freak genetics.

domerdog
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Re: Training an adult deaf dog

Post by domerdog » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:58 am

We really don't know Monk's history. He was picked up as a stray in December, 2009 and taken to the animal control. He was there almost a month without being claimed (had no tags) when a rescue group picked him up. He was in a foster home with several other dogs for about a month. We adopted him from the rescue group in late February. I think he was in a good home before he became lost. He doesn't have any signs of being abused (our prior beagle was a rescue and she had been abused and it was evident immediately that she had issues. She overcame them wonderfully well and was a sweet, loving girl with a funny personality).

I appreciate your insight and will be very careful with Monk. Luckily we live on a quiet cul de sac and all our neighbors know he's deaf. I've also had his name tag printed with the words "I'm Deaf" in addition to the contact information. He's never outside without one of us and he's never outside the yard without a leash. He does bark at things and make noise, which I had been told dogs that are born deaf usually don't do. That may be an old wives tale.

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Horace's Mum
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Re: Training an adult deaf dog

Post by Horace's Mum » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:13 pm

Definitely an old wives tale! Horus is incredibly chatty and vocal, far more than many hearing dogs I know!! They do tend to have a particular sharpness to their tone because they are not necessarily aware of the sound, but I haven't met a deaf dog yet who doesn't bark, and they are all accurate in their vocalisations too (I know about 20 now, not just one or two.)

It does sound like you have a good lad there, but if he did stray from a good home then all the more reason to be careful. I have "I am deaf" on H's collar too, should have mentioned that. Oh, I also have a bear bell (have a look on hunting websites, I got mine off ebay though) that goes on his collar when we are out in woods so I can always tell where he is even if he is out of sight for a bit. He only goes out of sight when walking with my friends dogs, but the bell also means if I am walking ahead of him i can hear that he is following without needing to look round which seems to help with him knowing I trust him, and it is his job to keep up with me, not for me to wait for him all the time.

Enjoy him!!

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