Not all deaf dogs are born deaf. Leading veterinary researchers seem to agree that a multitude of things can actually cause deafness in animals like chronic ear infections or injuries to drug toxicity and old age. Deaf dogs, contrary to popular belief, in every other way act just like any other dog. They just need a little more attention and respond to different cues.
Deafness later in a dog’s life can be caused by repeated, or untreated, ear infections, toxic chemicals, aging in general and injury. Dogs that go deaf later in life are known to have trouble adapting when compared to a dog born without hearing.
If you think your dog may be deaf, there are certain ways to see if you’re correct. One way is to wait until your dog is asleep, or not looking, and make a loud noise. If the dog cannot see you, cannot feel any vibration and still doesn’t respond, there’s a good chance your dog is at least hard of hearing. For pet owners who want to know for sure, there is a test called Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response procedure, or BAER.
A common misconception about deaf dogs is that they cannot be trained. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Some dog trainers go so far as to say deaf dogs are easier to train. The only real difference is instead of verbal commands, deaf dogs will learn hand signals.
When walking a deaf dog, be sure to always keep your dog on a leash, or in a fenced in area. Remember, these dogs cannot hear the honk of a horn, a car’s engine, or your voice.
National Deaf Dog Awareness Week is September 24 – 30.