When we rescued Hogan back in 1993 as a companion for our 18-month-old, Black Labrador, India, we immediately decided to use American Sign Language (ASL) as our way to "talk" or communicate with him. Living in a world of silence has been proven to be detrimental for even human beings so we wanted to ensure that barrier was eliminated from the very start. He learned quickly with "Sit" and "Cookie" being the first two added to his repertoire in the first 24 hours after coming home. As soon as he realized that our hands signaled something delicious was coming, he was intent in watching. Over time he learned well over 65 signs and some combinations.
Rescuing a deaf pup is rewarding beyond measure. I wish that I could describe in full the love, joy, and fun we shared with our first two deaf pups, Hogan and Georgia, and now share with our little girl, Judea. And, solid communication is the KEY! Remember that dogs are tactile in nature and our body language, hands, and facial expressions give signals and messages to our very special family members. Without well-established communication, any one of us including our pups can become confused, disoriented, frustrated, and disengaged.
So, my first important tip for anyone who is thinking of or has adopted a pup is to establish a good, positive, gentle, and consistent means to communicate encouragement, happiness, and unconditional love.