Whether advanced age, genetics, or a medical condition, there are many reasons why dogs may develop hearing loss or become deaf. But fear not – you are likely more upset by this change than your dog is. Dogs are resilient and learn how to adapt. You can still provide your furry friend with a quality life and, of course, plenty of affection.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be subtle, so you may not notice until it has become fairly profound. Pay attention to changes in your dog’s behaviors, such as:
- Becoming startled more easily
- Not responding to their name or other verbal cues
- Sleeping more deeply or more often
- Changes in attentiveness or obedience
- Excessive barking
Have your veterinarian check to see if hearing loss is an issue and what the potential cause may be. It could be something correctable such as a buildup of earwax, or it could be irreversible.
Adjusting to Hearing Loss
There are plenty of ways that you can help your dog adapt as their hearing decreases. One thing that all dog owners can do, regardless of how well or poorly their dog hears, is to teach hand signals early on. Pair verbal commands with a hand sign so you dog understands both forms of communication. If you haven’t done this already, don’t worry – older dogs are very capable of learning new tricks! Start slowly and work on basic commands first.
Make your presence known. Since your dog can no longer hear you coming, they’re likely to be more easily startled. Walk with heavy footsteps around your dog or stomp your foot to get their attention. They’re not so much reacting to the noise, but rather the vibrations. You can also use a flashlight or turn the lights on and off as visual cues.
Practice gentle taps. If your dog is sleeping, first try waking them by putting your hand near their nose so they can smell your scent. If that doesn’t work, gently tap them on the shoulder, then reward them with a treat when they wake up to help desensitize them to your touch. You can also do this to get their attention, but try to be within their field of vision when doing so.
Use a leash. Whenever you’re outside or in a new environment, make sure your dog is leashed. Remember that they can’t hear people, cars, or other animals approaching. They may not respond if you yell their name. It is also a good idea to put a tag on their collar that identifies that they are a deaf dog so others know. Adding a bell can also be helpful so you know where they are, and microchipping is recommended for every dog, hard of hearing or not.
Make sure that anyone who cares for your dog or regularly interacts with it knows that it is deaf and understands the strategies you use to communicate. Rather than hiring a pet sitter, consider boarding your dog while you are away so you know that there will always be someone there looking after them. Lake Wylie Pet Resort offers luxury pet boarding suites to keep your dog safe and comfortable. Contact us today to schedule your dog’s stay!