Our deaf animals can be wonderful and loving members of our families if we remember they have some special needs. Adopting them, like any pet, is a real responsibility and commitment. Below, I have made a simple list that is designed to help us and our special family members and indicates the most important things we need to do.
1. Learn to communicate with them their way. American Sign Language (ASL) is great inasmuch as it is already invented and allows many others to communicate with our deaf pups.
2. Always let them know when you are nearby. Like any dog, we need to be cognizant of their need not to be startled. The expression, "Let a sleeping dog lie," didn't come about because of deaf dogs, but any dog. Courtesy first!
3. Approach them slowly from the front where they can see you. It is always best to approach our dogs, whether they hear us or not, in a manner that they know that we are present.
4. Always be gentle with touch and gesture. Our love needs to be shown in every way. Massage is also a great way to establish closeness and trust.
5. Use only praise, encouraging touch, and positive reinforcement. And lots of it !! Our pups love to please us and the more wonderful feedback that we give, the happier they are.
6. Allow them to approach a newcomer first by smelling the person's fist. Never allow a stranger or anyone to rush in.
7. Keep them on leashes and close to you when out on walks.
8. Tether them to you in the house in order to help with initial adjustment, house breaking, bonding, and helping them feel safe. My deaf pups bonded so closely with me that they were nicknamed Velcro dogs. There is no better feeling than having a devoted and loving dog by our side.
9. Provide outdoor fencing that is secure and essential for their safety. They can't hear dangers. However, we need to remember that all pets need to be kept safe; and it's our responsibility to keep them safe.
10. Work with them in an established and continual training program. Our pets are adopted members of our families, and daily attention is "a non-negotiable" just as it is for any child or loved one. Learning is continual throughout their entire lives.
** Love and accept them with their special needs. **
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