I’m on a few list-serves & Facebook groups for deaf dogs. Many of the groups are focused on rescuing deafies – a laudable effort!
Once you’ve taken a deaf dog into your home, what can they learn? Everything. Anything. Whatever you want to and can teach them.
Case in point – Kiyo and Toka. They have good house manners, and behave themselves in public.
I was told multiple times by multiple people ‘you’ll never be able to teach that dog (Kiyo) anything – she’s deaf.’ Worse! She’s a deaf Akita! A breed known for its stubbornness.
Except that Akitas aren’t stubborn. They’re smart; if they think what you are asking them to do is stupid, they will let you know.
And, in fact, I am more stubborn than my Akitas. Those naysayers fueled my decision to put performance titles on them.
Kiyo’s sixth birthday is on Halloween. She has titled in rally, barn hunt, parkour, agility and nose work. She was the first dog to earn Dog Scouts of America’s 1000 mile trail dog and 1000 mile pack dog titles. (That’s us on their trail & pack dog titling information page!) She’s the first Akita to have earned her NACSW NW3 title, and then went on to be first Akita to reach the NW3 elite level. She’s also the first Akita to have earned her trick dog championship through ‘Do More With Your Dog‘ and the AKC’s performer dog title.
Toka, aged 2 1/2, is following in her paw prints. He has earned titles in the same sports as Kiyo, including having earned his NW3. Not bad for a youngster!
When Kiyo moved in, I knew nothing about training performance dogs. I was a complete newbie. All of the dogs we’d had in our lives were well loved pets who had basic manners. That’s it. If I – the average pet owner – can do it, you can too.
In my opinion, training deaf dogs through positive reinforcement methods is far better than by using corrections, or so-called ‘balanced’ training methods. My guys are 99% + positive reinforcement dogs. Shaping is particularly effective. In this, you reward closer and closer approximations of the behavior you’d like to see until the dog has perfected the behavior.
I encourage everyone with deaf pups to train their dogs – however old. Deafies are capable of doing everything hearing dogs can. As a bonus, they’re not distracted by weird or unexpected sounds.
(Here’s my website: The Brainy Canine. Mobile app still under construction, so best viewed on a computer at this point).