You have a dog that you’ve cared for and loved for most of his life, and unfortunately, a disease, old age, or an injury has taken away his hearing. That doesn’t change how you feel about your beloved canine friend though, and you want to ensure he still has the best quality of life possible.
That means he still gets exercise every day and to go about all his usual day-to-day activities. When you are walking your deaf dog though, you don’t want him constantly pulling you in every direction. It’s annoying at best and dangerous at worst. You don’t want him leaping across a road because he has seen another dog, especially if he can’t hear oncoming traffic.
Getting your deaf dog to heel and walk calmly by your side will prevent precisely this sort of danger, not to mention make your walks a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience.
What does the ‘heel’ command actually mean? The idea is that when you give this command, he walks calmly by your side, not pulling on the leash. However, if your dog is deaf, then this verbal command isn’t going to have much of an impact. Fortunately, there are a number of other ways you can still train him to heel.
Instead of verbal commands, you focus on his other senses. The nose, for example, is particularly effective. Using the smell of treats, plus visual and physical cues, you can still get your deaf dog to heel when you need him to.
This can be trained into both young and old deaf dogs, but it may take longer in older dogs who are stuck in their ways. So be prepared to dedicate several weeks to this training regime. It will, of course, be slightly harder to drill into your dog because he is deaf, but it is absolutely still possible!
Before you embark on your training campaign, ensure you have plenty of your dog's favorite treats or food. You will also need a quiet outdoor space, free from distractions.
Also, invest in a secure leash and if he is large or strong, you may also want to use a harness to prevent putting pressure on his neck and to increase your control. Because he is deaf you are also going to need a little more patience than usual, plus a positive, proactive attitude.
Once you’ve got all of these things together, it’s time to get training!