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 Our dog is going deaf--any tips?

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kbshee Posted - 05/08/2012 : 3:57:07 PM
Our beloved 9-year old mixed breed big lump of love, Juneau, is going deaf. She's survived a diagnosis of terminal cancer so this is a pretty minor bump in the road. Anyone have any tips on helping out a deaf dog?

We have noticed she gets very startled if someone 'sneaks up' on her--for example, she didn't hear an approaching jogger when we were out for a walk the other day and tried to take off after the jogger (she was on the leash at the time).

So we're being more cognizant of helping her see things approaching when we're out, and pausing at corners so we don't get her surprised...any other thoughts welcome.

kim in oregon
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kbshee Posted - 05/09/2012 : 1:32:05 PM
Thanks all for the good thoughts. Lanea, we definitely see her using her sense of smell more often...that nose is twitching like Samantha from Bewitched! We've also noticed she's calmer around fireworks, a blessing since she used to get incredibly upset by them. We'll work on pitch and hand signals. And of course helping her lip read!

kim in oregon
Lanea Posted - 05/09/2012 : 05:01:38 AM
Kim, my old dog is losing his hearing as well, and hand signals definitely help. As with humans, a lot of dogs will lose the ability to hear some frequencies but not the entire auditory spectrum. We've had a lot of luck with testing what pitches he's best able to hear while we're doing things he loves, like practicing commands and rewarding him with treats. Now that we have a better sense of what he can hear best, we make sure to use those pitches when we really need him to hear something. One positive is that Kaio is far less frightened of storms and fireworks than he used to be.

His vision is dimming a bit as well, another age-related issue. With that and the hearing, we find that Kaio needs more comforting than he used to, and that he doesn't want to be away from us any more than absolutely necessary. We're lucky because my husband is able to work from home a few days a week, which means Kaio gets to sit near his favorite person and feel safe and relaxed even more often. If it seems like your dog is worried because she can't hear as well, you may want to give her something that smells like one of you to sleep with. Most dogs maintain an amazing sense of smell even as their other faculties dim, and it's a huge source of comfort to them. I know Kaio doesn't necessarily hear when I start cooking like he used to, but he sure comes to watch me in the kitchen as soon as some meat hits a pan!

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Grand-moogi Posted - 05/09/2012 : 04:46:23 AM
I do not know much about dogs as we are cat people but I do like dogs. I talk to all the dogs around the place. I read this thread with interest as I thought that it might apply to a cat at some stage. Milinda's advice about teaching hand signals sounds brilliant. I wonder if it would work with cats? They do go by body language to some extent.
I hope you don't mind me telling you a funny story about a deaf cat. My sister found her 6 year old daughter on her hands and knees in front of their old deaf cat. She was pulling faces at her. When questioned, my niece said. "I am trying to tell her that her dinner is ready. She is deaf you know so she has to lip read"

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Milinda Posted - 05/08/2012 : 4:31:44 PM
While she still is able to hear, begin working with hand signals for stopping, moving, coming to you. Our dogs have all been show dogs with early training with hand signals which has helped incredibly as they age. But we do have a lady dog of a Certain Age who is a rescue and I've been working with her and she is catching on quickly. In fact, I have better luck with this than vocal commands. Dogs are by nature very cued in on body language so they catch on quickly to this.

And, yes, they do startle easily so you will have to watch that around people she doesn't know. I'm glad she has you to love her through this stage.


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