What to Expect When Owning a Deaf Pet

What to Expect When Owning a Deaf Pet

Every dog deserves a chance at adoption. Often times pets with medical issues are overlooked, but our friend, Christina Lee, at Deaf Dogs Rock is trying to change the views on adopting deaf dogs.

What is it like to own a deaf pet?

Owning a deaf dog isn't that much different from owning a hearing dog. We look at it from the standpoint of our deaf dogs are 1. Dogs first 2. a Breed second 3. Deaf third. This way we don't feel sorry for them and we treat them just like our hearing dogs. The training is also very much the same with the exception of a few tweaks in our training program.

What should you know when adopting a deaf pet?

I think people should know owning a deaf dog is not for the faint of heart. If they are thinking of adopting a deaf dog there is a certain level of time commitment, responsibility and advocacy that comes along with adopting a deaf dog. I get so many emails every single day of owners trying to rehome their 9-14-month-old deaf dogs because they liked the idea of rescuing a deaf dog but they never ever followed through on the training or socializing. When a puppy is around 10 months old and out of control, they don't want to deal with it anymore so they try to find it a new home. We are very lucky we have people who are willing to help an older puppy with patience, love and training to help the pup become the best he/she can be.

What is the hardest part of training a deaf dog?

Training is so easy. The dog must be looking at you to get a sign command so we start with "watch me" training and do it often. All of my deaf dogs are conditioned to watch me. The training is the same as far as we use Positive Reinforcement Clicker Training. We give the dog a "sign command", lure the dog into place with a high-value treat, and to mark the correct behavior with an open three finger flash of the hand or a thumbs up sign (instead of the sound of a clicker). Then we repeat, repeat, repeat.

What should people know when encountering a deaf dog?

I think always ask to pet a deaf or hearing dog. I have my deaf dog Nitro who loves everyone and I have my deaf dog Bud who is shy and not sure about children so I always let the kids greet Nitro and I let Bud watch the interaction. My new deaf dog Bowie is being socialized every single day but with a deaf dog folks should never sneak up from behind and always ask to pet. We always make sure we smile and do a "clap wave" so the deaf dogs know we are excited to see them.

Why should people adopt a pet with medical needs?

Some people do it because they know a deaf dog will be the last dog to be considered by many families. Some of our Deaf families adopt a deaf dog because they want a dog they can teach ASL and they feel like it is fair for a dog to be put to sleep just because it is deaf. Some people adopt a deaf dog or a dog with special medical needs because they had no idea the dog was deaf when they adopted the dog but when they find out they embrace the dog's needs rather than run from them. To most of us deaf dog owners we keep adopting deaf dogs because we think they rock!

Christina Lee is the founder of the National website

She launched the National website with her husband Chris Lee in 2011. Deaf Dogs Rock lists deaf dogs available for adoption all over the United States. Deaf Dogs Rock works closely with shelters and rescues by coordinating, transporting, sponsoring and networking deaf dogs who need help getting out of kill shelters into reputable rescues. Chris and Christina Lee are Deaf dog Advocates who spend their time educating deaf dog owners on how to socialize and train their deaf dogs through the Resources section on DDR. They advocate for deaf dogs all over the world by sharing deaf dog success stories and news stories. Deaf Dogs Rock has an amazing DDR Facebook Community who support each other with advice and tips on how to handle deaf dog challenges. In 2012, and 2015 was honored at the National BlogPaws Conference with a BlogPaws Social Media Award for "Best Cause Blog" and in 2014 for "Best Micro-Blog".

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