How to Train Your Deaf Dog to Stop Barking

How to Train Your Deaf Dog to Stop Barking
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-4 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

One would think a dog that couldn't hear wouldn't be as apt to vocalize as much as a hearing dog. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true! Dogs that are deaf may bark for a number of reasons, some the same as hearing dogs, some because of their hearing impairment. A deaf dog may bark out of increased anxiety or frustration due to their inability to hear. Even though deaf dogs cannot hear they can see, or come to associate certain activities like their owner approaching the door with someone arriving, and will bark in response to a person approaching, another dog passing by on the sidewalk, or a squirrel in a tree, the same as any other dog would. Most people train their dogs not to bark, or to stop barking, by giving verbal commands. Obviously, this will be ineffective with a deaf dog that is unable to respond to audible commands, so owners of deaf dogs need to find other ways to teach their dogs to stop barking.

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Defining Tasks

When a deaf dog is barking, owners need to get their dog's attention and then provide them a non-audible command to stop barking. A dog that incessantly barks and cannot be stopped is annoying, not just to their owners, but to neighbors and anyone else within hearing distance, so being able to stop your dog from barking is an important skill. Teaching a deaf dog to stop barking is not necessarily any more difficult than teaching a hearing dog to stop barking, but it requires an alternative method to get your dog's attention, and a non-verbal command to cease barking. Many dogs do not develop deafness until they are older, and teaching an older deaf dog to stop barking is a matter of substituting a new visual or tactile command for the previous verbal command. A puppy that experiences deafness will need to be taught not to bark just like any other young dog would be taught, just with an alternative method of communicating the ‘stop barking’ signal.

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Getting Started

Ensure you understand what triggers your dog to bark, so you can use these stimuli to teach your dog to stop barking. Have treats available to reward compliance and any equipment that you will use to get your dog’s attention and communicate the 'stop barking' command, such as a light source or vibrating collar. You may employ an assistant to create situations in which your dog begins barking. You will need to conduct training over several weeks, as situations in which your deaf dog barks arise and provide the opportunity for training, so you will need to have treats and tools for signaling your dog readily available and on hand at all times in order to maintain consistency.

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The Signal Collar Method

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Vibrating collar

Provide your dog with a vibrating collar to attract their attention when you want to give them a command. Note this is not a shock collar, but a collar that gently vibrates to provide tactile stimulation and get your dog’s attention. Vibrating collars are used to get a deaf dog's attention prior to providing a command in many different situations, and a deaf dog that is trained to attend to you and wait for your command, should orient to you when signaled with the vibrating collar.

2

Alert

When your dog barks, wait for them to pause in their barking and then signal them with the collar to get their attention.

3

Signal

Give a hand signal for ‘stop barking’ that is an alternative to a previously learned audible signal, or in a young dog, introduce a visual hand signal asking them to stop barking.

4

Reward

Provide a treat immediately.

5

Practice

After repeated cycles of barking, pause barking, vibrate, attend, hand signal, and treat, your dog will come to associate the ‘stop barking’ hand signal and treat provided with a cessation of their barking behavior. Going forward, you can provide the hand signal to signal your dog to stop barking if they can see you, or use the vibrating collar to get your dog’s attention followed by the visual signal.

The Trigger Method

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Trigger barking

Employ an assistant to create a visual stimulus that starts your deaf dog barking, such as walking by the house or approaching the door. Have your dog on a leash waiting for the event.

2

Capture quiet

When the event happens and your dog starts barking, wait for them to stop, even just for a moment to catch their breath, then signal your dog with a flashlight aimed at your dog's feet and provide a treat.

3

Practice

Repeat the procedure every day for a few minutes each day. Provide the light signal as soon as your dog hesitates in their barking and looks at you and provide a treat.

4

Add signal

After several days of practice, when your dog has come to associate the light signal with stopping barking and getting a treat, start adding a hand signal to signal your dog to stop barking.

5

Reinforce

Eventually you can use the light to get their attention and provide the ‘stop barking’ hand signal to communicate to them to stop barking. If the dog can see you, just use the hand signal without the light. Continue to practice and reinforce over a period of weeks, until you can provide just the hand signal, or get attention with the light and then hand signal your dog to cease barking.

The Alternative Behavior Method

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Make a place

Provide your dog with a mat or crate, where an activity such as a chew toy or puzzle feeder is present. Make sure this is a safe, positive place for him, and not associated with punishment.

2

Trigger or wait for barking

Engage an assistant to create a situation where the dog barks while your dog is on a leash, or wait for your dog to bark due to boredom or frustration, and then put them on the leash.

3

Signal

Give your dog a signal, such as hand signal or light signal or use a vibrating collar and then take them over to their mat or crate.

4

Diversion

Once at their spot, provide a treat, toy, or chew toy, such as a rawhide bone to reward them for not barking, and provide an alternative activity to barking such as a puzzle feeder. With a toy or chew in their mouth, not only are they distracted from barking and rewarded for quiet, but having an item in their mouth makes continued barking difficult or impossible.

5

Practice

Repeat this procedure frequently every day, until the signal causes your dog to stop their barking behavior and go to their target spot to receive their toy, activity or treat

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 01/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Zoe

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shepard

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20 Months

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Question

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Zoe has gone deaf and when someone, anyone even me, comes to the front door she barks and runs toward them. We think this is because she can't hear and it startles her. What is the best way to stop this behavior as it could be dangerous especially for strangers.

July 19, 2021

Zoe's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Peggy, I would teach to look at you when you vibrate a remote vibration collar, then reward each time you vibrate it and pup looks, along with teaching pup hand signals. The vibration would allow you to get his attention, then you can give hand signal commands, including teaching a Quiet command with a hand signal. When you are outside, before you enter, vibrate the collar so that pup is anticipating that treat and your appearance, instead of getting anxious. When guests arrive, vibrate the collar before pup sees them, then reward when pup looks at you, and give pup a hand signal for going to say hi, going to Place, Sitting, or a similar acceptable behavior that you always have them do when guests arrive - so they know it's associated with a guest who is about to arrive, it's associated with something pup likes like a treat to help them look forward to the guest, and it gives pup something to do that's acceptable. For the training, I would purchase a vibration collar with various vibrations levels so you can try using the gentlest one first to see if pup will notice that. Use the lowest level that pup shows that they feel, even subtly. Have pup wear the collar around for a few days with it turned off, then in a calm room without a lot of distractions, vibrate the collar once and toss pup a treat. Repeat this a few times, tossing a treat each time. Practice this for short periods of time several sessions a day. Keep sessions short because the newness of the collar will be a pretty stimulating for pup at first. As pup improves and starts to look like they anticipate the treat when they feel the collar, hold the treat out to pup. Practice that until pup looks your direction. Next, hold the treat up to your eye after you vibrate the collar, so that pup makes eye contact, then give the treat. Practice until pup will make eye contact with you even with a treat hidden behind your back when they feel the collar, then give the treat that was behind you back. When pup is reliable with that, practice throughout your day at random times, working up to more distracting environments as pup improves in calmer places gradually. For the barking, check out the article linked below and the Quiet method. Since pup can't hear, instead of someone knocking, instead recruit someone to walk past the window to get pup barking for a few seconds, then watch pup to see when they stop barking on their own, then as soon as pup stops, give a hand signal like putting a finger to your lips and reward pup with a treat while they are quiet for even a second. Repeat this over and over, having your helper walk by each time. You will need to position yourself in front of pup while doing this so that they can see you motioning with your finger - even if they aren't paying much attention to it at first. Practice until pup starts to get quiet quicker each time you cue them to stop while they are barking. Finally, it should look like pup barks, you vibrate the collar, pup looks at you, you cue them to be Quiet, pup gets quiet, you reward. Practicing this at home with things you can control, then begin to practice in real life scenarios, starting with less exciting situations first and working up to situations where pup is more worked up as pup improves. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 21, 2021

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Jess

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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10 Years

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Question

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Barks when left, even for a minute. Jess is 100% deaf

June 7, 2021

Jess's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brian, I would teach Jess to look at you when you vibrate a remote vibration collar, along with teaching pup hand signals. The vibration would allow you to get their attention, then you can give hand signal commands, including teaching a Quiet command with a hand signal. For the training, I would purchase a vibration collar with various vibrations levels so you can try using the gentlest one first to see if pup will notice that. Use the lowest level that pup shows that they feel, even subtly. Have pup wear the collar around for a few days with it turned off, then in a calm room without a lot of distractions, vibrate the collar once and toss pup a treat. Repeat this a few times, tossing a treat each time. Practice this for short periods of time several sessions a day. Keep sessions short because the newness of the collar will be a pretty stimulating for pup at first. As pup improves and starts to look like they anticipate the treat when they feel the collar, hold the treat out to pup. Practice that until pup looks your direction. Next, hold the treat up to your eye after you vibrate the collar, so that pup makes eye contact, then give the treat. Practice until pup will make eye contact with you even with a treat hidden behind your back when they feel the collar, then give the treat that was behind you back. When pup is reliable with that, practice throughout your day at random times, working up to more distracting environments as pup improves in calmer places gradually. For the barking, check out the article linked below and the Quiet method. Since pup can't hear, instead of someone knocking, instead recruit someone to walk past the window to get pup barking for a few seconds, then watch pup to see when they stop barking on their own, then as soon as pup stops, give a hand signal like putting a finger to your lips and reward pup with a treat while they are quiet for even a second. Repeat this over and over, having your helper walk by each time. You will need to position yourself in front of pup while doing this so that they can see you motioning with your finger - even if they aren't paying much attention to it at first. Practice until pup starts to get quiet quicker each time you cue them to stop while they are barking. Finally, it should look like pup barks, you vibrate the collar, pup looks at you, you cue them to be Quiet, pup gets quiet, you reward. Practicing this at home with things you can control, then beginning to practice in real life scenarios, starting with less exciting situations first and working up to situations where pup is more worked up as pup improves. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 9, 2021


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