Anyone train and hike with a deaf dog?
Jan 2, 2021 at 4:59 pm #3691860
If so, what resources would you recommend for someone considering adopting a deaf puppy (Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Heeler mix) for training and care?Jan 2, 2021 at 5:38 pm #3691868StumphgesBPL Member
I’m no expert, but trail dogs need to be trained to a pretty high standard. Most dogs rely almost entirely on their hearing to receive commands on the trail (recall, stop, stay, sit, etc.) and also to a great extent also for praise (good boy!) and reinforcement of good work. Without hearing, you’d have to have a way to communicate remotely. There are collars that produce a variety of tactile and electric “inputs” that your dog could come to understand as commands. I don’t use them myself, so can’t give you any info. On the reward side, most commands on the trail result in proximity between man and beast (recall, often stay too) and any such proximity can involve both food and touch rewards. I would think a deaf dog would appreciate more touch rewards to compensate for the missed verbal ones.
I think it’s doable. Certainly far more doable than a blind dog. But hopefully someone with real knowledge and experience will chime in. And I would give some thought to potential hazards unique to a deaf dog in the wild too. Don’t know if you’ve had a trail dog before, but the feeling of responsibility for the dog, when out in the wilderness, can take some fun out of backpacking. It is a bit like having a toddler, but a fully-formed super-athlete toddler, along for the trip. With great enthusiasm sometimes comes great danger.Jan 2, 2021 at 5:54 pm #3691872DanBPL Member
It will not be difficult to train your deaf puppy, most techniques can be adapted for visual instead of auditory input. Most basic obedience classes will be able to help you with this since deafness is very common in certain breeds, so trainers are experienced with it. For example, clicker training has become standard now, and you will simply use a specific hand signal for a positive reinforcement marker, instead of a clicker (or key-word). The marker hand signal should be something sharp and dramatic, so that it is distinctive and very noticeable (like a fast hand flash from fist to open hand with spread fingers). This is followed by positive reinforcement, typically a treat. You can also use an e-collar in vibrating mode. And obviously you will use various hand signals instead of voice commands, but that is fairly trivial since voice and hand signals are often used in conjunction anyway. You will want to put extra effort into establishing consistent eye contact, but that is also a standard part of obedience training, just extra important in your case. In fact, that is the first thing you will do. Just wait until the puppy makes eye contact, then flash the marker signal and treat her. Repeat over and over. Once she figures that out, you are on your way.
I have always trained my dogs for both voice commands and hand signals. I had a dog that gradually became deaf as she aged, and as I realized she was becoming deaf I reinforced her attention to hand signals. The biggest problem was getting her attention or finding her if she wandered off. A bell was a simple low-tech solution. Obviously GPS collars are now widely available.Jan 2, 2021 at 9:13 pm #3691889BonzoBPL Member
@bon-zoLocale: Virgo Supercluster
Visual is a great go-to in this situation. I’m currently training my puppy with both audible and visual commands; she responds to (and ignores, because puppy) both equally. Stay consistent and you’ll be successful.Jan 2, 2021 at 9:57 pm #3691892
I should make clear that I don’t have the pup. I’ve applied, but kinda doubt I’d be a first choice, since I have no prior experience.Jan 3, 2021 at 9:39 am #3691920DanBPL Member
These COVID days are interesting. For the last 20 years, it was almost impossible to get people to adopt dogs with disabilities, so they actually culled many of them. Now with the puppy shortage, there is apparently a waiting list for a deaf dog. I’m not complaining, I think it’s great that they are wanted. It’s just interesting. It’s also really hard to buy home gym equipment or a hair trimmer.Jan 3, 2021 at 10:51 am #3691927
My fear for a lot of these dogs is that once Covid is over and people can get out, some of these dogs will be back in a shelter as people decide they don’t want/need them anymore.Jan 3, 2021 at 11:06 am #3691929BonzoBPL Member
@bon-zoLocale: Virgo Supercluster
My fear for a lot of these dogs is that once Covid is over and people can get out, some of these dogs will be back in a shelter as people decide they don’t want/need them anymore.
That’s a well-founded concern…and it’s the same for all animals. Right now, I’m delaying the adoption of a companion for my bunny because I know there will be a ton of them that get surrendered in the next year; they’ll need good homes, then. Thankfully, my bunny already has one good friend in the form of the 107-lb. puppy that I’m training.Jan 3, 2021 at 4:54 pm #3691973David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
We’ve trained all our dogs to audiable and visual commands (e.g. “Come!” and both arms hold out straight, etc) and also practice with just one at a time, too.
Then, when we’re trying to be quiet in camp or around wildlife; or when we’re in a noisy environment, we can just use the visual command. And the audible-only version works in the dark or around a corner.
For a deaf dog, I’d look into a training collar that has a vibrate feature and train them that it means “look at me” and/or “get to where you can look at me”. And then train them on the usual visual commands.
You might also consider a “puppy class” or some other group obeidance school (when the pandemic is over) so the dog can see other dogs doing the correct response.
Other aspects of training could be easily substituted: an exaggerated scowl instead of a low growl to correct them; a big smile instead of “Good boy!”, etc.Jan 3, 2021 at 10:34 pm #3692008Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Well you can just take me backpacking instead. I’m a deaf, old dog.
Aside from that, any shelter dog would hit the lottery jackpot if you adopt it.Jan 4, 2021 at 10:55 am #3692060
“Well you can just take me backpacking instead. I’m a deaf, old dog.”
Can’t wait til this virus crap is, for the most part, over Nick, and I’ll do exactly that! :-)
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