Many of us grow accustomed to a dog greeting us at the door because she heard our car in the driveway or the key in the lock. Mine used to jump off the sofa hoping not to get caught by the time I walked in the door, not realizing that the hair they shed was a dead giveaway. So when the day comes that you find your dog sleeping through your arrival, or they don’t come when called, you know that your dog is probably losing her hearing.
First thing to note is that if your dog seems stubborn and isn’t sitting or staying when you ask, it may be that he doesn’t hear you! He likely did not suddenly decide to become difficult. Similarly, if you seem to catch your dog by surprise frequently, it is probably because she didn’t hear you coming. Hearing loss is a normal part of aging and there really isn’t much you can do to stop it. So, you and your dog must adapt!
- If you can, teach your dog hand signals for the basic commands. While it is great to do this as a puppy, you can still teach a lot of signals to a grown dog. Being able to communicate through sign language will help a lot. I promise that a dog can pretty easily learn a sign for “treat” very quickly no matter their age!
- Try to avoid scaring your dog when he is sleeping! When I needed to let Gunny know that I was home, I would start stomping on the floor from some distance away hoping that the vibration would wake him before I was right upon him. I also found that he could hear clapping for a much longer time, so clapping became a way to get his attention or slowly wake him.
- Remember that your dog won’t hear people or dogs approaching him from behind. So, if you are out for a walk, be your dogs “ears” and tap him on the shoulder or find some other way to let him know a dog is approaching from behind so that it doesn’t startle him. He can still interact fine with other dogs, but it is not going to get off to a good start if he is startled.
- Be sure and tell your vet, day care, or a groomer that your dog is deaf. Deaf dogs often are unfairly labeled as “stubborn” or “stupid” because they don’t respond to commands. It will help the people you are entrusting your dog to take better care of your dog if they know he is hard of hearing.
While hearing loss will impact your dog’s ability to warn you of danger or unusual sounds, know that they are getting a very sound night’s sleep without having to be on alert all the time!