The Deaf Dog Education Action Fund (DDEAF) is dedicated to providing all types of information for owners of dogs who are either hard of hearing, or completely deaf. It is important that these dogs be treated the same way as all other dogs, and that means starting training from the time they are a small puppy to ensure that they will be well behaved and obedient. If you have a dog that is deaf and are looking for ways to communicate, here is a quick guide to hand signals for deaf dogs that can be of great help to you and your family during training.
Like with humans who have lost their hearing, or were born deaf, communication is primarily through hand gestures. Your dog will not be able to read lips like many deaf humans do, so getting these hand signals down during training will help your dog to be able to understand what you are asking of them.
Sit: Raise your hand up over your dogs head so that his head follows the gesture and his bottom drops to the floor.
Down: lower your hand down while your dog is already in the sitting position so that he lowers his head until his front legs follow suit.
Stand: useful for when you are at the vet or grooming your dog, this gesture will signal to your dog to follow your hand and rise up from either sitting or laying.
Stay: Simply raise your hand and keep it still so that your dog stays put until further instruction.
Come: lead your dog towards you with a large sweeping motion so that he knows to follow you and the direction of your hand.
If you follow closely, you will realize that all of these gestures have to do with your dog following the direction of your hand. If one of these gestures is simply not working, or you find it difficult, adapting a gesture is not hard. Use your hand the way you need to in order to make sure your dog will follow the instruction you are trying to communicate and repeat that signal consistently so that he knows what the gesture is for.
As with all dog training, rewards and repetition will get your dog to where he needs to be. This concept does not change for dogs who cannot hear you. With a lot of practice and love, your dog will be able to do anything you command him to in silence, with just directions from your hand.