By Guest Contributor, Ash Babariya
All dogs need their owners to think about their safety. But dogs that have disabilities, such as deaf dogs, need a little more consideration. These dogs can’t hear traffic, people calling after them, or other warning signals that would tell them that something is wrong. They rely on you to keep them safe while they navigate life without that sense.
1. Always Microchip Your Dog
No matter if your dog is hearing impaired or not, always make sure they are micro-chipped. This is the most important thing you can do for your dog’s safety. Not only does this make it easier for a lost dog to be reunited with their owner, but it also makes it easy to store medical information for a vet to discover. When the vet scans your dog’s microchip, the database from the microchip company will have a note that your dog is hearing-impaired or deaf. That ensures that your dog is given the proper care when you aren’t around, even if they’ve lost their tags.
2. Invest in Good Harnesses and Leashes
Always be sure that your hearing-impaired dog is on a leash, or in a harness. Invest in quality leashes and harnesses to make it harder for them to get away from you in public.
3. Train Your Dog to Respond to Common Hand Signals
If you’ve ever noticed how people interact with dogs, you’ll know that many people rely on some common hand signals when giving verbal commands. For example, many people pat their hands on their thighs when saying “Come here”. Many people also put their hands up with their palms facing out when they want a dog to stay or get down. Teach your dog to respond to hand signals that they are likely to encounter around people who wouldn’t know that they are hearing-impaired.
4. Keep the Exits of Your Home Secure
One way you can keep a hearing-impaired dog a little safer is to ensure that the exits of your home are always secure. Lock the doors so that someone coming home can’t open the door and let your dog out on accident. You can also put up gates to keep your dog in a certain part of the house unless you are letting them outside.
5. Be Sure Your Closest Neighbors Know About Your Dog’s Hearing
Let your neighbors know that your dog is deaf, and consider teaching them the basic hand signals you use to get your dog to stay or come here. Chances are if your dog gets out, one of the neighbors will be the first person to see your dog, and if they know how to get your dog to come to them, they may be able to bring the dog back home before he gets too far.
6. Give Company Some Ground Rules
Be sure that any company you have visiting knows that your dog should not be startled. Give them a few ground rules, like not grabbing your dog from behind, or always making sure your dog can see them before petting him. This will prevent anyone from getting hurt due to a dog being startled. Another good rule to tell visitors is to never wake your dog from sleeping.
7. Give Your Dog a Safe Place
Always make sure that your dog has a safe place that they can go to away from guests, especially children. While not all hearing-impaired dogs are startled easily, many are, and children are not always the best at remembering to not “sneak up on” a deaf dog. Give your dog a place in the home where they can go if they need to, like a kennel or a specific room.
8. Always Supervise Puppy Play Dates
Dogs are surprisingly vocal with each other when they play, and if your dog isn’t able to hear the warning growls or yips, they may push the other dog into becoming aggressive. It’s a good idea to always supervise when your dog is playing with a hearing dog, so that you can be sure that no one is getting annoyed and needs a break. Pay close attention to your dog and the other dog.
9. Always Check for a Shadow When You Go Outside
Be sure you are always checking that your dog isn’t following you before you go outside. The biggest safety concern for a deaf dog is that they will get away from you, loose in an area where no one knows that the dog is deaf and not just ignoring them. If you go out to check the mail or run to the car for something you forgot, your dog may be following you without you realizing it. Get into the habit of checking before you open doors.
10. Learn to Communicate Environmental Changes to Your Dog
If you are out for a walk or playing at the park and something changes, be sure to let your dog know. Here’s a great example: You are playing with your dog at the park, and they are looking at the ball you just threw. You see a small child approaching the two of you, likely to ask if they can pet your dog. Be sure to grab your dog’s leash, and then point their attention to the child so that they aren’t startled by the child’s presence. Simply ensuring that your dog is aware of changes around you can help them feel more comfortable and less likely to be startled.
Improve Your Dog’s Safety to Improve Their Life
These tips are great ways to keep any dog safe, but especially a dog that is hearing impaired. Simply taking a little more time to be careful with where your dog is, how others interact with your dog, and how well your dog knows what is going on around them, can make a huge difference in a deaf dog’s quality of life.
Ash Babariya is the co-creator of Simply for Dogs and a life-long dog lover. Ash’s many adventures at the local dog park with her Boxers, Janice and Leroy, have turned her into the local “crazy dog lady”. She shares those adventures, as well as her research into the world of dogs, around the web to promote well-informed pet owning. Ash, Janice, and Leroy share a home in the Midwest with a brood of hens, all sorts of wild critters, and the occasional litter of puppies.