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Living with a Deaf Aussie

The thought of living with a deaf dog may seem like an insurmountable task for the common dog owner. What would the average person know about training a dog that can't hear? The good news is that average pet owners do have the skills to own and train a deaf dog. Deaf dogs are just like other dogs, except they cannot hear. They run, play, cuddle and can be easily trained with the use of hand signals.

Read on for some valuable information about living with a deafie. Maybe you'll even decide to add one to your family.

What the Owners of Deaf Dogs have to Say

Living with a deaf Aussie is very similar to living with a hearing Aussie. Exercise and training are very important. The only difference is that deaf Aussies cannot be allowed offleash in unfenced areas. They can be exercised in fenced in areas or on long lines. Training is done visually or through touch (I personally use American Sign Language in combination with touch signals, scents (using target sticks), lights (ie, flashing lights or laser lights), and vibrations (ie, stamping on the floor or tapping the dogwalk, A-frame, or tunnel when doing agility). Deaf Aussies can do anything.... except hear! They can do agility, flyball, therapy work, etc. and are often easier to train than hearing Aussies. They are not distracted by sounds and have excellent eye contact with and focus on their owners. They also are able to respond to your commands through glass doors and you can impress your friends by how your dog "listens" to you without you having to use your voice. Deaf Aussies compensate for their lack of hearing with their other senses. They do not know they have a "disability" and are just as playful, active, and fun as any other Aussie.

Kimberly - Deaf Dog Owner

Having deaf dogs as part of our family has been tremendously rewarding. That said, I can remember a much different feeling when we first considered a ‘special needs’ dog. What seemed a daunting task was merely a matter of working past the intimidation of something so different and recognizing that the most natural form of communication for animals includes the use of body language. Establishing a good visual connection (‘watch me’) and utilizing basic hand signals helps to build a strong foundation for effective communication. And while many deaf dogs do just fine taking ‘cues’ from other dogs in their environment; my experience is that you get what you put into something…deaf dogs are no exception. They are not for the lazy (you can’t call them from across the room/yard in the traditional way) but, then again, I don’t think any dog should have a lazy family! Deaf dogs are capable of more than a mundane existence…they are hiking buddies, play pals, agility dogs and so much more. They require the same structure and commitment as other dogs to reach their full potential…it’s just done in a slightly different way. For us, they’ve been a great source of love and comfort; not only as an integral part of our family but also as certified Therapy Dogs.

Marsha - Deaf Dog Owner

Our family has lived with deaf dogs for several years now. Our dogs have been deaf since birth, so to them, it is all they know. Our dogs run, play, and socialize no differently than our hearing dogs. They can do activities such as agility, obedience, and pet therapy amongst many others. It can be very rewarding and fun to train a deaf dog. We find it very special!

When living with deaf dogs, there are some adjustments that need to be made, but overall we find them really not any different than our hearing dogs. Some of the adjustments that need to be made are training the dogs with hand signals for basic obedience commands. Using eye contact to be able to communicate with deaf dogs is important, as well as touch. One of the most important would be a recall for the deaf dog – this takes reinforcement such as treats or lots of praise, and eye contact is very important since the dog can’t hear a verbal cue, they need to see the hand signal. These commands are typical for training any dog for their basic manners, but just need some modification for a deaf dog. Again we find it quite fun!

A securely fenced yard is preferable for a deaf dog to keep them safe, obviously for commands such as a recall. Otherwise if a fenced yard is not an option, a deaf dog could potentially be leash walked and would do just fine!

A common concern for many is if a deaf dog will startle if awakened suddenly. There are things that can be done to ensure that a deaf dog isn’t startled such as using a signal such as vibration to get their attention. This could be done by stomping the floor.

With a little extra management, a deaf dog could be a great and rewarding choice! Please consider adopting a deaf dog! They really are wonderful.

Matt and Lauren - Deaf Dog Owners

Links About Deaf Dogs


Deaf Dogs

Deaf Animal Row

Deaf Dog Yahoogroup

Training with a vibrating collar

Deaf K9


Deaf Dog Atlas

Books About Deaf Dogs

"Living with a Deaf Dog" by Susan Cope Becker, ISBN: 0966005805
"Hear, Hear A Guide to Training a Deaf Puppy" by Barry Eaton, ISBN: 095330390X


Deaf Aussie Doing Agility

Check out
Youtube for videos on training deaf dogs.


Breaking the Sound Barrier:Living with and Training the Deaf Dog by: Elisabeth Catalano, MA, CPDT, CDBC