Some Free Training Tips for a Deaf Puppy

By: David Codr

Published Date: January 23, 2024

training tips for deaf puppy

For this Omaha puppy training session we worked with deaf Mini Goldendoodle puppy Winston, sharing training tips for a deaf puppy.

I had worked with Winston’s guardian before with her other dog Bella, training her to walk with a loose leash. I was excited to hear that the guardian got a new puppy, but was disappointed when I heard that she discovered her puppy was deaf after she brought it home. Unfortunately, she got the pup from Tully’s a pet store in Omaha that is notorious for selling puppy mill dogs.

Puppy mills are horrible, they mass breed puppies often raising a litter of pups in a single kennel that is too small. Their early exposure to humans is not from a loving person who cares about their well being. Instead the puppy mill is only interested in selling the most pups which means there are too many pups to love and properly look after. Contact with humans is few and far between and rarely involves love which is why puppy mill dogs often have confidence and trust issues with humans.

Another major problem with puppy mills is they usually do not do health or temperament testing. These are tests responsabile breeders do that are expensive, but ensure the pups have good genetics and dispositions. Failure to test the mom and dad for these genetic markers frequently results in pups born with health issues that sometimes are expensive and time consuming to address; such as discovering the puppy is deaf after to bring it home like in this case.

Fortunately Winston seemed to be in good health mentally. He was curious and didn’t show the signs of being overly fearful I usually see when I work with dogs who were purchased from Tully’s. This was a big relief for me as having a puppy can be a challenge.

I skipped over many of the early training tips we cover in our Puppy Head Start appointments since Winston will be starting puppy classes with me next week. But I did strongly recommend the guardian download the Critical Socialization Chcecklist we share with new puppy parents and knock at least 10 of those out every day. The CSP ends at 16 weeks, so it’s a limited time that is profound in how much it impacts the rest of the dog’s life.

Fortunately training a deaf puppy is not that much different than training a pup that can hear; but but there are some differences.

Training Tips for a Deaf Puppy

I recommended that the guardian look into getting a vibrating electric collar so that she can teach Winston to look at her to get a hand signal. This is different from a shock collar that has probes that extend into the dog’s coat so it can deliver the electrical shock punishment that those collars utilize. Those collars are evil and should not be used on any dog or animal in my opinion. I have a list of over 100 dogs who developed aggression or fear based behavior problems due to using a shock collar.

I also suggested the guardian get a small bell to attach to the puppy’s collar. This is helpful in case the dog ever gets out. Since Winston won’t hear us calling if he gets out, the jingling sound the bell will make as he moves around will help his guardian find him.

Next we introduced a marker hand signal and discussed how to introduce and use verbal cues. You can see how we did that by watching the free positive training video below.

Another suggestion I made was that the guardian learn American Sign Language (ASL) or at least for the cus she wants to teach Winston. ASL has already thought out hand gestures that are clear and easy to distinguish. Many people use their own hand signals which is fine, provided they are easy to read. You want bold gestures that are easy to distinguish from other signs to help avoid confusion when working with deaf puppies.

There are a number of other tips you can use if you are trying to train a puppy who cannot hear. To help the guardian remember them all, I pulled out my camera and sat down on the floor with Winston so I could share some deaf puppy training tips. If you have a dog or a puppy with a hearing loss or are curious how you would train a puppy with hand signals, you should definitely check out the free positive dog training video below.

Another tip that I share with people whose puppies are deaf is to make sure to recognize and reinforce voluntary attention as much as possible. When a puppy cant hear us, we cant use sounds to call or distract them which can be challenging. For that reason it’s super important that we recognize, mark and reward the pup when it looks our way. Over time, this will condition Winston to check in with humans often, giving them the opportunity too guide or distract him when needed.

As we were wrapping up this in home Omaha puppy training session, I recommended the guardian set up a Long Term Confinement Area to help ensure Winston doesnt develop separation anxiety and have a safe place to keep him when his mom is at work. This helps reduce chewing of inappropriate things, prevents him from getting into trouble and is a game changer when the pup really starts nipping.

Because Winston has a dedicated guardian looking out for him and a running buddy in miss Belle, he has all the tools he needs to life a full and rewarding life as a deaf dog. No reason to feel sorry for this deaf puppy in Omaha. He is in good hands (and paws).

We look forward to seeing Mr Winston in puppy class in February. The future is bright for this lucky puppy.

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This post was written by: David Codr