Adopting A Deaf Dog Might Be Right For You If…
Adopting a deaf dog can be a powerful and meaningful experience…if you’re willing to go “all in”.
While deaf dogs can (and do!) make wonderful companions and family members, they do have unique training, safety and occasional health needs that require a special kind of commitment.
Before adopting a deaf dog, no matter how noble your intentions are, here are a few questions you should think about before adopting a deaf dog.
Be clear on your needs, capabilities and your willingness to learn new skills. This will help ensure that adopting a deaf dog is the right answer for you and your family as well as the dog you are thinking about adopting.
So, Adopting A Deaf Dog Might be Right For You If…
If you’re interested in a “velcro dog”…
Deaf dogs are kinda famous for being “velcro dogs”.
By velcro dog, I mean that it is very common for deaf dogs to follow you from room to room. And if they’re not physically following you, they’re watching you intently- they know where you are at all times!
To prove my point: As I’m writing this in my “front porch office”, Edison is currently standing on two club chairs staring at me through the living room window and he’s been there for over an hour.
Also, many deaf dogs crave lots of physical contact. For some deaf dogs, it may be as simple as laying down next to your foot, while other deaf dogs may actually lean, sit or lay on you.
Of course, every dog is different, with his own personality, likes and dislikes, and not every deaf dog is a “velcro dog”, but it is a fairly common behavior in deaf dogs, so be prepared.
I personally enjoy this close physical bond with my deaf dogs and find it extremely comforting and rewarding, but if you are looking for a more independent dog, a deaf dog may not be the right choice for you and your family.
Looking for a fuzzy, four-legged shadow no matter where you go? Then a deaf dog might be for you!
If you’re interested in learning new ways to communicate with your deaf dog…
Obvious? Yes, but worth mentioning.
With deaf dogs you have to learn to communicate with your hands. While not harder than using your voice, it is a different type of communication….and you do have to learn hand signs yourself and then teach them to your deaf dog.
Personally, I find my deaf dogs learn hand signs faster than a hearing dog learns verbal commands.
Interestingly, I also find that my hearing dogs learn hand signs faster than a verbal cue. Wondering why I teach hand signs to my hearing dogs? I have a good reason and it’s right here.
If you’re willing to meet your deaf dog “where he’s at”…
This is good advice for any dog adopted from a shelter or rescue, but it’s especially important when it comes to adopting a deaf dog.
Deaf shelter dogs often have complicated histories…
Perhaps the previous owner didn’t realize their dog was deaf and he is now a lovable, untrained and bit rambunctious goofball who just needs to learn good manners.
Perhaps he escaped from his old home, got lost and is now living in the shelter- a scary place for all dogs, whether they can hear or not.
Perhaps the shelter has the resources to dedicate to training the deaf dogs in their care, but maybe not.
Shelter staff are doing the best they can with limited resources that they need to spread among all the pets in their care- and sometimes they don’t have enough resources to provide training to a deaf dog.
The point is deaf dogs from shelters or rescues have complicated unknown histories and in order to forge a relationship, train him and teach him the life skills he will need, you need to meet him where he’s at. Only then can you begin to train him properly and forge a lifelong bond.
If you’re willing to make deaf dog safety a priority…
It may not be sexy, but deaf dog safety is critically important- like right up there with food, water and shelter.
A loose deaf dog on the run is a disaster waiting to happen, but being proactive and alert can go a long way toward preventing a tragedy.
Securing fences, name tags, microchips, using harnesses instead of collars and being aware of changes in your dog’s environment are just a few ways to help keep your deaf dog safe.
For more detailed information about deaf dog safety, this round-up post is a great place to start.
If you’re willing to tackle (and beat!) some unique medical or behavioral issues…
By and large, deaf dogs don’t experience any more medical issues than a hearing dog. That said, there are a few health and behavioral concerns that are reported by deaf dog pet parents.
The most commonly reported health issue is sensitive skin. This is predominantly reported in congenitally deaf dogs- and for good reason.
Most congenitally deaf dogs have little to no skin pigmentation, which makes the dog more prone to sensitive skin.
Avoiding harsh topical chemicals, such as a topical flea/ tick preventative, using only all-natural, chemical-free herbal shampoo, such as Dr. Harvey’s organic herbal shampoo and feeding a healthy, holistic, anti-inflammatory diet can help prevent ugly, angry skin.
You can even toss in some fish oil capsules for extra support and protection!
Though I’ve never experienced or observed this in the deaf dogs I’ve met or worked with, I would be remiss not to mention that some deaf dog pet parents report seizure activity or obsessive-compulsive disorders.
If your deaf dog experiences seizures, please work with an integrative veterinarian to determine the cause, proper treatment as well as ways you can prevent future seizures naturally and holistically.
For OCD or other behavioral concerns, it’s best to consult and work with an experienced behaviorist for an evaluation and treatment plan. Even a few sessions will get you on the right path!
Deaf dogs are a passion of mine and, with so many living in shelters and rescues, I hope you will consider a deaf dog when you are ready to adopt your next dog!
There are lots of online resources available to answer your questions, offer tips and advice and help you in your deaf dog journey! And of course, you can reach out to me here.