National Deaf Dog Awareness week takes place in the last week of September. This celebration aims to raise awareness of deaf dogs by encouraging their adoption and spreading the message that despite their disability, deaf dogs can make a loyal, friendly and loving friend for life.
Tens of thousands of dogs are born or become deaf every year in the UK alone. Sadly, many of these pups end up homeless or in shelters. Often, dogs with hearing problems are deemed ‘unadoptable’ or too difficult to train and end up in shelters for life – or worse, killed.
But while it may take a little extra time and care to communicate with deaf dogs, they’re just as intelligent and loving as a dog who can hear. National Deaf Dog Awareness week (which this year, falls on September 24th – 30th) was created to help deaf dogs find their forever home and improve the lives of deaf dogs.
Dogs rely heavily on their hearing – but they can live without it
Dogs rely on their hearing more than cats and humans do. Humans are able to hear around 20,000 vibrations a second, while cats hear around 25,000. Dogs however, pick up around 35,000 vibrations every second – now that’s impressive, right?
Despite this, some breeds of dogs have a deafness rate of 40% or more. Every time you’re out walking your dog in the park, it’s likely that a couple of the dogs you pass will have some form of hearing impairment – it’s much more common than what people think.
Dogs can either be born deaf due to inherited disorders or lose their hearing from a traumatic injury, illness or even old age. These dogs don’t deserve to be homeless or abandoned due to their hearing loss.
With a little knowledge, they’re just as easy to keep as other dogs. They adjust incredibly well to living with just four senses and cope brilliantly in a loving environment.
Deaf dogs make amazing companions
Did you know that there’s actually advantages to having a deaf dog?
Fireworks, storms and other loud sounds don’t spook deaf dogs – simply because they can’t hear them! That’s right – if you adopt a deaf dog, they’ll chill out quietly on your lap while other dogs would bark like mad. Overall, they’re known to be a lot less anxious than dogs who can hear.
Because they have to communicate with fewer senses, deaf dogs show all their love through sight and smell. They’re often super affectionate, loving dogs who will make it very clear they adore you – if you give them the chance!
Caring for and training a deaf dog
Training deaf dogs is a slightly different process, but it’s not necessarily more difficult. Here are a few examples of what you would need to focus on if you were to adopt a deaf dog (which you totally should!).
Don’t leave deaf dogs outside unsupervised – they can’t hear traffic or other dangers. It’s important to keep them on a lead in busy or unfamiliar environments.
Dogs who are hard of hearing can become startled if they turn around to find you missing. However, training your dog to recognise that you’re going to leave the room with a simple tap on the shoulder or other tactic can prevent panic.
Wake up deaf dogs gently. Touching them suddenly can be shocking and scary for them. The smell of a tasty bowl of food placed next to them is more than likely to rouse them from their sleep – without a surprise!
It’s important to use signals with deaf dogs as they’re reliant on visual cues. A simple set of hand cues for commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘go’, and ‘well done’ will be picked up quickly by a deaf dog. When you’re training them, use lots of rewards. Positive reinforcement is even more important with deaf pups.
How you can help
There are a number of ways you can help out deaf dogs this National Deaf Dog Awareness Week.
The best thing you could possibly do is adopt a deaf dog. Get in touch with your local pet shelter and enquire. They’ll be able to help you train your deaf dog and support you in giving them an amazing forever home.
Not looking for a new pup yourself? Spread awareness of deaf dogs by encouraging friends or family to adopt one should they be considering a new pet. Have a chat with other dog owners you come across and make them aware of National Deaf Dog Awareness Week and help spread the message.
Last but not least, make a donation to a local pet shelter and tell them you want your donation used primarily for the care of deaf dogs or to cover the care of a deaf dog in the shelter.
Happy National Deaf Dog Awareness Week!