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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-06-2019, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Training a deaf senior dog

Hi everyone,

We adopted our golden mix Kuma when he was 9 years old. He is a sweet soul and came with a good understanding of house rules and boundaries. We did a training course on the essentials. We never got the "look at me" or "stay" quite down though he's good about not running out of the house when the doors are open.

However, he is 13 now and this past year he's gotten fairly deaf - he can hear very loud, percussive noises like buses driving past him on walks, the door opening next to him, etc., but he cannot hear our footsteps or our voices anymore. I'm trying to keep up our communication by tapping him on the shoulder if I'm entering a room or walking to a different room. Some of the commands like sit has hand signals, and I'm trying to do a thumbs up before I reward him with treats.

Do you guys have any suggestions on how we can continue training and communicate? Specifically, when we're out on walks, he is too busy to remember that me tapping him on the shoulder or reaching a hand in front of his face means that he should look at me for information. Although, he was never great about checking us for cues unless he remembered that we have a pocketful of treats - if we go to off leash beaches he'd run off with other dogs for minutes before he realizes that he should make sure we're still there - obviously now that he's deaf we're never going to let him off leash unless he'll really be perfectly safe and it's a small enclosed space.

He is an old dog so we'd like him to live his best life and keep up the communication so he's not bored. We are also thinking of getting a puppy or younger dog so he can get some signals from the other dog and have a dog pal.

Last edited by jomiel; 03-06-2019 at 09:21 PM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 08:46 AM
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My last dachshund became deaf due to old age. I am deaf as well (I have MS too) and I know sign language. Now I used proper signs with my deaf dog (she died last summer) because I knew sign but you can make up your own signs. Because my dachshund was low to the ground I would tap her with my foot to get her attention- then give her the sign (go potty, come in, etc) and she would comply.

In the beginning I had to really get in her face to get her attention...but as time went by I noticed she was losing her eyesight so I made my signs bigger. That really helped. You can sign small and big...deaf people do all the time!
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 08:47 AM
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Not being able to hear can cause him to be fearful... they can "feel" vibrations from busses and sense when something is approaching.

But honestly I would find a quiet place to take him where he can relax and you won't have to be concerned about sudden things spooking him. Maybe a really large park or down to the lake where there aren't lots of people or traffic? I don't know what's available where you are.

My older girl was a frightened dog anyway and found that she was happiest in her own yard. She felt safe there. At 13 it could be your pup is ready to retire to his own space. Only you can know the body language of your senior. My girl was at peace out there, would just sit and watch the birds and let the wind blow on her face. I figured at her age she deserved to do whatever made her comfortable.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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That makes sense, I'll try to make my signals bigger and not be afraid of really trying to get his attention. He's losing some of his eyesight too - so far it's only noticeable when he's trying to go down the staircase in the house and it's dark. I will either turn on the lights for him or hold up my cellphone for extra light.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 02:16 PM
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Yes...my older dachshund also had some cognitive decline along with her deafness and visual impairment. When she was outside during the day she was fine. But at night she needed help. I would try to use my feet as cues... she was really low to the ground lol. We had a rhythm. But she loved the flashlight!
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah we just want him to enjoy his life. He is still pretty active (can jog along with me for a couple of blocks) and he likes to meet other dogs, especially large dogs, so I'd like for him to do fun dog things and have dog company for as long as he can. I recently found an indoor dog-only swimming pool so we might check that out on a late weekday night when it might be quieter.

Not being able to hear makes him less reactive - he's less jumpy at people ringing the doorbell since he can't hear the bell unless he's right there. There's probably some trauma in his previous life, all his bottom front teeth were worn down and he's missing a patch of skin just above his tail. He had scared quite a few deliverymen and missionaries (there was one guy who dropped all his pamphlets on our step and ran down the stairs, we helped to pick them up and return them haha). He's always hated car traffic noises so we tend to take the quiet and hilly routes around our neighborhood, which is fairly quiet except for the tourist spot with the mosaic stairs and overlook. I think it's good for him now that he's able to tune all of that noise out
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jellybeans View Post
Yes...my older dachshund also had some cognitive decline along with her deafness and visual impairment. When she was outside during the day she was fine. But at night she needed help. I would try to use my feet as cues... she was really low to the ground lol. We had a rhythm. But she loved the flashlight!
What kind of cognitive decline did she develop? So far I haven't noticed anything in Kuma except him sleeping more. Our previous family dog was fine too until he had a heart attack.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 12:18 AM
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We have a 12 year old Papillon that started going deaf about 3 years ago after he had teeth pulled. He became completely deaf very quickly. We use hand signals with him and he picked it up very quickly. He watches me constantly now for cues. The hardest thing has been when he is sleeping and we either accidentally or purposely have to wake him. He gets so startled and I feel bad for him. The puppy has been a challenge also as she sneaks up on him because he cannot hear her coming.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JulesAK View Post
We have a 12 year old Papillon that started going deaf about 3 years ago after he had teeth pulled. He became completely deaf very quickly. We use hand signals with him and he picked it up very quickly. He watches me constantly now for cues. The hardest thing has been when he is sleeping and we either accidentally or purposely have to wake him. He gets so startled and I feel bad for him. The puppy has been a challenge also as she sneaks up on him because he cannot hear her coming.

Jules
Oh hmm, I was hoping a puppy might help him out instead of startling him. He's not a nervous dog though, and he's still okay with the cats.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 02:20 PM
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What kind of cognitive decline did she develop? So far I haven't noticed anything in Kuma except him sleeping more. Our previous family dog was fine too until he had a heart attack.
Itís hard to explain. She certainly started sleeping more but she appeared confused about certain things. For example she would act as if she wanted to go for a walk when we took the younger dachshund for a walk but I knew she didnít want to go...but Iíd put the harness on her anyway, knowing that as soon as we got outside sheíd balk.

She became very grouchy with me. Snapped at me, growling (I ignored it) but insisted on sitting next to me while growling. She was finally diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis and put on pain meds but then lost control of her stools. It was a difficult situation. I donít know how much of her growling was due to pain or cognitive decline. There were times I was not sure she knew who I was and she slept with me every night. I was told she growled under the covers. I am deaf and didn't hear her lol.

Another thing she would do is walk around in circles. It was awful to see.
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