Just because your dog cannot hear does not mean that he cannot be trained. He is still a smart dog; he can process the commands; he just cannot hear them. That means you just have to use different training techniques with him. He will reap the same benefits as a dog who hears… he will enjoy a better relationship with you and his quality of life will improve.
The key to working with your deaf dog is to start off with a simple command. Usually the sit command is the first one to master. With your arm bent, about ninety degrees at the elbow hold your hand open with the palm in the upward position. Now, raise your hand slowly toward the height of your shoulder, keeping your palm facing up. That will be the sit command.
Next, place a yummy smelling treat near your dog’s mouth and nose, using your other hand, so he knows it’s there. In tandem, give the sit command. Be sure that the dog continues to smell the treat. Then, place the treat in the hand that will give the sit command and slowly raise the treat up over his head out of reach. This maneuver typically causes him to instinctively sit.
Praise him when he sits. You can allow him to eat the treat, but be sure to hold him in the sitting position. You will likely have to repeat the process several times for a number of days until he gets it right. When he starts to sit when you give the signal, praise him through petting and the food treat. With both positive reinforcements, he will want to please you and master this command.
The down command works in a similar fashion. First, you start with your dog already in a sitting position. Bend your arm at a ninety degree angle again, at the elbow. Make sure your hand is open, but this time, face your palm down toward the ground. With your other hand, hold a treat under your dog’s nose as an incentive. Again, like with the sit command, you want to slowly lower your hand, palm side down, until it is fully extended. With the treat hand, slowly lower it to the floor. Your dog should change position and get down on all fours. When he accomplishes this task, reward him with the food treat and plenty of praise and love.
Just like with the sit command, you will have to practice the down command a number of times before it is second nature. Remember, praise and his treat is a mighty motivator since he cannot hear the tone of your voice when you are pleased with him.
Having an obedient dog is beneficial to your home life and to the dog himself. While it can be frustrating having a dog that cannot hear, he cannot help it. You will have to adapt your ways in order to make a loving home for him. Most other commands like come and heel can also be taught to your deaf dog. You will have to take extra time with him and dig into that well of patience inside you.