Posts filed under ‘Food aggression’

The Challenges of Training a Deaf Dog

Meet Snow, a sweet Dalmatian mix that unfortunately is deaf.

Snow in the snow

Snow in the snow

Snow has a very interesting story as she spent the past two years of her life in a shelter awaiting her forever home. In an effort to give Snow a chance, she was transferred to another shelter where it was discovered that Snow was going to be a difficult placement. Her time away from people seemed to have caused some behavior concerns.

Snow deserves a home…but this is not an easy task for several reasons.
• Thought to be completely deaf.
• Not that food motivated.
• Huge prey drive and will lung at squirrels, cats rabbits etc. (She actually started barking ferociously just at a picture of a cat.)
• Reactive with other dogs.
• Aloof or detached from humans, because of having lived in a kennel for so long.
• Very distracted

This is where Alternative Canine Training comes in. She needs so much special attention that the staff just didn’t have the time. It was decided that the best thing for her was to go Bonny’s Bootcamp.

I picked her up on Monday and was allowed to see her interact in the environment that she felt most comfortable. When I came into the room she approached with a little caution and after a few pets under the chin was one big wag. She was then off into her world. She was very distracted, but I know some of reasons why. If you can’t hear you are more apt to look around to see what is going on. These were my initial observations:

• A happy dog but also a serious and cautious.
• Very athletic and strong
• Very distracted and disinterested in what we were doing.
• Very curious about everything

So off she went to bootcamp. Upon getting her home I noticed several other things. First I quickly realized that she is only partially deaf. She can certainly hear base. So if I clap my hands I know she can hear it. It seems like higher sounds like a high pitch praise are inaudible to her. As always the first 2 days are just getting to know her and to start teaching her to walk perfectly on a leash.

Going for a Walk

Going for a Walk

Because, I don’t know how many verbal words she can hear; I use more hand signals. So instead of just saying, “Let’s Go” I also slap the side of my leg. I know she can hear the slap.

Snow became very proficient at walking perfectly in the heal position within a day. She would look up at me and for once actually focus. Well until she saw a squirrel. I have seen dogs intent on getting a squirrel.

What you got?

What you got?

Snow becomes possessed. Her brain literally shuts down to anything around her and would do anything to get at that squirrel. I can see she is used to just bullying her way to get what she wants. She is very strong and so will throw her whole body and pull in the direction of the squirrel or do a back flip trying to pull the leash from your hand and lung again towards the squirrel.

To address the squirrel issue is just a simple matter of making sure she understands what the heel position is. Another words as long as her nose stays behind my leg she will be praised. In Snows case that would be an occasional pat on the head or a treat. Once we are near the squirrel and if she tries to leave the heal position. She gets corrected and getting back to the heal position will produce a treat. Of course when she is trying to focus on the squirrel, Snow could care less about the cookie. Normally in this situation I would praise the dog profusely for staying in the heel position. So the process is going to take a little longer. For now I will just walk through the neighborhood, because of all the Oak trees there are plenty of squirrels. By next week, weather permitting I am planning on walking each day in the park.

Now for some control exercises like sit and sit stay. When I made the hand motion to indicate sit she would totally ignore me. Okay she sniffed my hand to see what I had.

What You Got

What You Got

I tried 3 different treats and same results. Each time she would see what I had. She showed an interest by the 4th treat, but rump only slightly went down. So I massaged her down as demonstrated on my DVD “Obedience for Life #1”. She is now doing much better at sit and for the rest of this week we will work on ignoring squirrels and sit stay.

I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with her and I am glad that it has been decided to give her a chance. She really is a nice dog. In fact had to put her in an Irish Wolfhound size crate, because whenever I approach her crate. Her tail wags so profoundly that I was afraid she might beat the tip off. She really wants to be loved, but doesn’t know how. This stems from her being kenneled most of her life. Next week I will start working on home manners and try to introduce her to my dogs. I’ll keep you posted.

December 13, 2011 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment


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