The Background on National Deaf Dog Awareness Week
National Deaf Dog Awareness Week is a week designated to raise awareness for the deaf community. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate our four-legged friends who have the unique ability to communicate with us in different ways.
The deaf dog population has increased dramatically in recent years and is estimated to be around 3 million nationwide, according to the American Society for Surgery of Animals (ASSA). Many of these dogs were born deaf and are hearing impaired. Others lost their hearing later in life.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), deaf dogs can be a valuable addition to the family, as long as you take into account their specific needs and by understanding their way of communicating with humans.
“Dogs are naturally social animals and their interactions with us serve as an outlet for all of those needs,” the AKC says. “They look to us for leadership, affection, protection, and entertainment. These needs remain even though a dog is deaf.”
This week helps individuals understand how a deaf dog communicates, and how they can respond to the animal.
Deaf dogs rely on their other senses – smell, hearing, and vision – to communicate with humans. They use visual signals to communicate with others in their pack or herd. And they rely upon scent for communication in the same way that all animals do- by marking territory as part of a mating ritual or to avoid danger.
“When first brought home as a puppy, a deaf dog may seem like it’s behaving in ways that no dog has ever exhibited,” the ASSA says. “This is because your dog is trying to ‘say something’ without you hearing him.”
The last week of September is reserved for the appreciation of deaf dogs and it’s called National Deaf Dog Awareness Week. This year, the days to celebrate these amazing dogs are the 19th to the 25th of September.
Understanding Deaf Dogs
Dogs are amazing creatures with an even more amazing sense of hearing. They rely on this sense and life without can be hard and challenging. Some dogs are born deaf and they manage to get used to that very easily, but many dogs lose their hearing later in life, most commonly with old age.
Training with deaf dogs can be quite challenging because they cannot hear the clicker or even verbal praise. In this case, we have to rely on our positive emotions and vibrations that dogs can read quite well 🙂
Because dogs rely on their hearing so much, losing this sense can be very confusing for them. Caring for a deaf dog or even approaching one has to be done very carefully. Our movements around them should not be erratic or sudden, and we should always approach them face front and not from behind.
Patience while trying to teach them something or correct a certain behavior should be first on our list.
Dogs with special needs, like these dogs that lost their hearing, need more love and attention to make them feel that they are part of the group and feel more normal. Extra loving can be very reassuring for an anxious dog that just lost its hearing.
Celebrate this week with your deaf dog and do something special, take them to their favorite place at the park and give them their favorite treats. Spoil them with love and attention 🙂
Make sure you have a good understanding of your dog’s body language. A deaf dog may give signals at random times and gestures. These might include barking or crying, or a more subtle gesture such as turning his head, scratching his ear, or twitching an ear.
Dogs that rely heavily on non-verbal communication often rely on sleeping near a person in their pack to convey information. Make sure you’re aware of these actions. Example: If your dog is whining and rubbing his head against you, he’s probably uncomfortable with another animal nearby.
Happy National Deaf Dog Awareness Week!
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