The Sound of Connecting: Training Your Deaf Dog

Whether your dog is going deaf gradually in their old age, or this malady has come about more suddenly due to exposure to loud noises or ear infections, it never hurts to be prepared.

Dogs are quite resilient creatures and will compensate pretty effectively for gradual hearing loss by bringing in their other senses more an more when making decisions about their environment. For example, the sound of an opened refrigerator is easily replaced by sensing the scents that escape.

Dogs that have partial hearing loss might find it easier if you clap (not in their face, mind you) to get their attention instead of calling to them. 

The vibrations in the air caused when you clap provide a distinct sound over calling a dog who may not get the connection if they have the volume turned down.

Using hand gestures to supplement voice commands to your dog

While to is no hand gesture to command a dog that has it's back to you, continued training throughout the life of the dog is a great way to continue strengthening their mental acuity, as well as reinforce the connection between dog and human family members.

Today, my senior dog hears perfectly well, but I've subconsciously been mixing in hand signals. I noticed how effective they were when one early morning he was getting a bit anxious around the food bowl and I was able to calm him down without touching him. (Full disclosure: he got a hug shortly thereafter for listening.) Note that all of these commands have been initially trained in coordination with voice commands. You can also train a completely deaf dog by reinforcing the command and gesture in other ways. Some of the commands that I mix in include:

  • Stop/Hold: Palm facing the dog
  • Sit: Show the dog your palm with four fingers up, and rotate your fingers up a few times.
  • Down: Get the dog to sit, then rotate your palm down and push it (your hand... not the dog) in a downward motion.

These are just a few gestures that work for me. Whatever you work out with your dog over the long term should get you just as much mileage if you're consistent in reinforcing the behavior.

What other tips do you have for those with dogs that are deaf or hard of hearing?

Related articles:
Deafness in dogs
Deaf Dog US Populations

Bark Out Loud Old Timer

Peppy has been looking for a new home since her mom passed away last year. My friend, Sabrina - The Foster Mama, at the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego, swooped in and helped to find Peppy a foster home, but this beauty is still looking for her forever. UPDATE: Peppy found a wonderful forever home where she lived with her new family. She was loved and spoiled until the day that she finally crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Through my research to bring you the best information available on senior dogs and their owners, I came across The Seattle Dog Spot, which is spinning up a new monthly column: The Senior Dog Files. One of the topics writer, Ann Mouldon promises to cover is making the transition from regular to senior dog foods. Given the impact on how a dog looks on the outside is based upon what goes on the inside, I'm excited to see this series unfold.


TurboJRT is the Leader of the Pack

Turbo the Jack Russell Terrier (@TurboJRT for those of you in the Twitterverse) is the winner of Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs in our recent contest.

Turbo is an avid reader, loves his mama, and is a senior pooch who was rescued from a South Los Angeles shelter.

We have more contests being planned so keep your eyes, ears, and nose open. You never know when these will happen.


Bark Out Loud - Don't Call It a Comeback Edition

After several weeks with only the occasional article I'm back on the attack, delivering you more posts per week than you can wag your tail at.

This week's Cover Pooch is Tinkerbelle. Tinkerbelle is looking for the perfect forever home for her. 

Speaking of forever homes, my friend Charlie (aka Grizzly Bear) rejoined us at The Dog Squad Rescue. Unfortunately for me, Charlie is not a fan of large dogs, and was none too happy when he met Rusty this past summer. The good news is that he's got his own Facebook Page, Furever Charlie, and he'll be meeting a potential foster dad this weekend. Cross your fingers, toes, and paws that it's a fit.


Book Review: Pukka's Promise - The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs

Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs
Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs by Ted Kerasote tells the tale of Ted and his new dog Pukka against the backdrop of their cabin at the base of the Teton Mountain Range.

The book starts with Ted's thoughts about his previous dog, Merle, who he adopted as a stray. Merle's legacy is pervasive throughout this work as well as the action that he (Ted) takes in finding a new companion after Merle's passing. Every page of this book is permeated with the love that Ted has for dogs, including those that are his, a local pack of visitors to his cabin, and all canine-kind.

The book is laid out to alternate between Ted and Pukka's adventures and research on a variety of topics related to the health and wellness of dogs.

I was most surprised that Pukka was purchased from a breeder. As someone involved with rescuing homeless animals I was initially taken aback that Ted chose to go this way to find a particular type of dog (a "houndy lab" in his description) rather than adopting one of the many available homeless dogs. That said, his research on breeders and those that are both helping and hurting the breeds that they represent is thorough and very understandable to the lay person. After reading through the entire book, I understand where Ted was coming from in his desire to find a dog that could measure up to his beloved Merle. His experience and research on the topic is just as relevant whether you've adopted a dog or gone the breeder route.

The topic of breeding leads into hereditary diseases that have increased by breed over the years largely due to inbreeding to accentuate particular traits by mating close relatives. I felt like this part of the work tied together a lot of things that I heard anecdotally about breed-specific maladies.

Diet, long-term health concerns, including cancer, and shelters are just a few of the other topics that Ted covers both at home and interviewing a wide variety of professionals including: vets, breeders, manufacturers, and animal behavioralists. I was impressed with the amount of travel and consulting Ted did with throughout the Western Hemisphere to gather his data.

Some of my favorite bits show Ted and Pukka working out how to live together and in harmony in nature. The word training comes to mind here, but it's almost too antiseptic of a word to describe that educational element of their relationship.

This is a quick, fun read that provides a lot of scientific background in a non-threatening way. Regardless of whether you have or dog or not, if you're thinking of getting one in the future, pick up this book.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but have since bought a copy for my Kindle, since that's a format that I'm more accustom. 

Win a Copy of Pukka's Promise

Did someone say contest?

Sure did. All you need to do is share one of SeniorPooch's posts from its Facebook Page, retweet or respond to a tweet from SeniorPooch's Twitter account, or leave a comment anywhere on any time between March 13 and March 17, 2013 and I'll pick out one winner from the lot who will receive the recently released, Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer Lived Dogs by Ted Kerasote.

I'm posting a review of the book later this week, but it's a wonderful read covering one man's mission to raise the healthiest, happiest dog possible. Kerasote leaves his heart on the page, as well as leaving no stone unturned on topics including: breeding, diet, training, and general health and wellness.

This is the hardcover version of the book and I'll pick up the shipping. Only folks in the US and Canada are eligible. I received this copy for review, but since I'm reading the Kindle version, I want to pass this pristine copy along to one lucky person.  I'll announce the winner on March 18, 2013.  Good luck. 

The winner of our contest is none other than TurboJRT. Congratulations!

Thanks to all of you who participated.

Check out the link below to to learn more about this interesting book or browse our review on


No Ugly Dogs Here: Senior Pooch Teddy Shows as Most Handsome Male

Teddy, a senior malamute-shepherd mix took third for most handsome male at the 18th annual ugliest dog contest

And one of the top best looking dogs in San Diego is... Teddy!

Our friend, Teddy, pictured here with his room mate, Larry Abgarian came in an impressive third place for Most Handsome Male at this year's Ugliest Dog Contest.

This year the contest was held in Valley Center for the first time in the contest's 18 year history, but that didn't detract from the festivities. The weather was beautiful and fun was had by two and four footed participants alike.