“Deaf dogs hear with their hearts…”
• Vibrating Collar – Pet Safe Pet Pager PVPP-300 (no shock feature) – about $80.00-$100.00 *Update as of 2011 it seems Pet Safe is no longer making this product. Here is a list of other manufacturers that make vibrating collars although most have a shock feature too. Here is a link to make your own vibrating collar.
• Collar Covers – Collar cover to alert people – I’m Deaf – beneficial to alert people that they and their dogs should approach in such a way as to not startle the dog.
• Collars/Harnesses/Leashes – Bright yellow with the words “I Am Deaf” printed on a collar, harness or leash. Custom products are also available (also I Am Blind, I Am Blind & Deaf are available).
• Boomerang adjustable collar tags – fit on any collar(including Martingale style) $7.50 each, 5 lines of text.
• Love a Deaf Dog Today! Merchandise (T-shirts, hats) from ACES Rescue
• Caution Deaf Dog Sign (great for fenced in yard so no one will let the dog out) – 12”x12” aluminum
• To teach a new sign, use lots of special treats (string cheese and chicken are Kenzie’s favorite, and training time is the only time they are offered). Show sign, gently assist dog into position if required (i.e. sit, down) treat, give “good” sign. Repeat.
• Having a hearing dog assist in the session can be helpful. The deaf dog will often imitate the hearing dog. Be sure to retrain the hearing dog with the hand signals you are going to be using for the deaf dog, to avoid confusion between the two. Use all of the hand signals with both dogs for maximum benefits.
• Deaf dogs read body language quite well, and pick up a lot from what you are saying. Use your voice too (your facial expression and body language when you talk cue the dog that you are happy, mad, etc.)
• Waking up a deaf dog – stomp loudly as you approach, the vibration may wake the dog. Alternatively, have a treat ready, and gently tap the dog on their shoulder to wake them – give them the treat immediately, so they will associate the tap as a positive thing (some dogs may be very startled when they wake, it is important to condition them to not wake up and “act out” as result of being startled with a nip, etc.) I have trained my hearing dog to “nose” Kenzie on her shoulder to gently wake her up, instead of startling her awake.
• Off leash – it is probably not possible to let your dog off leash in a dog park, etc. as it is impossible to call them back to you. The vibrating collar can be used to teach recall, but still may not be 100% effective – use caution as with any dog when off leash.
• Strangers/Other dogs – Being approached from behind or out of the deaf dogs direct sight can startle the dog and provoke a negative response. Use caution when strangers or other dogs approach, as your deaf dog cannot hear them. (Kenzie’s I’m Deaf collar helps with this, people usually use more caution and give her a chance to see them before they touch her).
• Martingale collars – work great (especially for dogs that can back out of their collars). Kenzie is very visually stimulated, and tends to want to take off and “chase” every little thing on our walks – even things we don’t happen to notice (leaves, bugs, birds). The collar gently tightens and gives her an automatic correction.
• Tags – I noticed the traditional dog tag worn on the collar really annoyed Kenzie when she moved it moved, and it was a great distraction for her (it also reflected light on to the ceiling in some circumstances, which had her climbing the walls). I found a great tag that slides over the collar and fits flush against it that has worked great and is guaranteed not to come off. Be sure to add a line that states “I’m a Deaf Dog”. These will work on the Martingale style collars as well.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional trainer; this page consists of my own personal methods of training and resources used for my own deaf dog, MacKenzie.