Pet parents responsible for deaf pets need to be sensitive to the needs of the hearing impaired animals and train them such that they can carry out their daily activities without any major constraints. Our objective should be to train the pet and the household so that the animal as well as humans remain injury-free and enjoy each others’ company. Dog breeds that are susceptible to deafness from birth include Whippets, Dalmatians, English Setters, and Australian cattle dogs.
The increase in responsibility when owning a deaf pet is not huge. The gratification of taking care of a handicapped animal and enabling it to lead a fuller life is something that means a lot to responsible pet owners. If you need confirmation that your pet is indeed deaf in one or both ears then the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response procedure, or BAER will inform you on it.
The pet may be congenitally deaf or may lose its hearing due to age or injury. Whatever the case, you have to train your differently enabled pet dog, cat, or horse so that it adjusts to its place in its household and the outside world as well. Deaf animals are not completely helpless; they still have their acute sense of smell, very good sight, and ability to detect vibrations. Partially deaf animals may benefit from hearing aids that amplify sound.
Ability to detect sound is a very crucial sensory perception and the loss or absence of this faculty can stress the animal; however, as with humans pets can adapt as well. The most important thing that we can do is to train the animal to recognize people using its other senses and not get unduly startled if caught unawares. On our part, we should always try to approach the pet in a manner such that it can see us. Let it get used to being tapped lightly on its back when asleep; in time it will associate this with a signal to wake up and not react in an uncoordinated manner.
Communicate with the animal using facial expressions and hand signs. You will have to be patient with deaf pets and also see that other members of the family are sensitized to its condition. Avoid gestures and actions that the hearing impaired animal may construe as threatening. If the animal expresses discomfort or fear by whining or barking you have to reach out to it and pet it. Deaf pets will lean on you for physical and emotional support. As mentioned above, it’s not a big increase in our duties as pet parents and the sense of fulfillment is worth the trouble.
If your pet is wearing a collar, it should carry information that the animal is deaf. This way if it ever gets lost, the person who finds it will understand that it has to be treated accordingly. Tell all regular visitors to your place that they should approach the pet with their hand extended so that the pet can recognize them by their smell. You will have to keep your dog on leash when you take it out unless you live in a place where you have a few acres to yourself.
Remember, your deaf dog can do everything that a hearing dog can.