Excerpted from an article by Pat Miller
If we’re fortunate enough to have them live to old age, at some point, most of our canine companions begin to lose their hearing and may eventually be, for all intents and purposes, deaf. It’s painful to watch a beloved dog become less and less responsive to his environment because he’s unaware of what’s going on around him, and even more so when it limits your ability to communicate with him. The thought of a hearing-impaired dog wandering off and not being able to hear your calls is frightening. Here are some things you can do if your dog’s hearing isn’t what it used to be:
Use hand signals. Every time our dogs reach the old-age-can’t-hear stage I appreciate having taught them basic hand signals as well as verbal cues. Since dogs communicate primarily through body language, hand signals are easy to teach, especially if you do it when your dog can still hear well. As your dog ages, it’s a great opportunity to expand your visual cue vocabulary.
Some owners use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with their hearing-impaired dogs.
Run interference at home. This is all about management. If you have a multi-dog household, one or more of your other dogs might take offense when your geriatric pal doesn’t respond quickly enough to their signals – because he doesn’t hear them, and therefore doesn’t look and notice their body language. Manage your household to prevent encounters that cause tension due to his lack of hearing and subsequent lack of response. This often includes keeping potential problem dogs separated when you are not home.
For more advice on ways to live with a dog who is losing his hearing, download Canine Hearing Loss from Whole Dog Journal.
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