The biggest issue most people have in training their dogs is getting their attention. Dogs are easily distracted, are good at selective listening, and some are even good at ignoring us purposely!
When you have a deaf dog, this issue is magnified. Instead of your dog having selective hearing, they can’t hear you at all. So getting their attention comes down to finding other ways to get their attention. Some deaf dogs spend their lives on leash so their owners have a direct line to getting their attention whenever they need it. Sure, it works, but it takes a little something away from the freedom that most dogs enjoy. Other options for catching their attention include stomping your feet or making some other motion that the dog will feel, or catching their vision or sense of smell. All of these are possible, but there is a better option, the e-collar!
The e-collar will help you bridge the gap between languages, dog vs human, even if sound is not a sense that can be depended on. The first thing that you will need to do is train the dog that e-collar stim means that they need to look at you. With majority of dogs, this happens automatically. They feel the stim, and they wait for your guidance, even though they are typically paired. If the dog is at any sort of a distance from you, which I would recommend you keep relatively minimal (within 100 yards for off-leash trained dogs, and always in sight) the stim should advise them to come to you with a certain pattern of taps.
A set of hand signals should be decided on by the dog, their family, and their trainer, as these will need to be as consistent as the commands used in training, if they are to have any success.
Another awesome capability of the e-collar is that you can set the cadence of taps to mean certain commands. While some e-collars can store these automatically, others will have to be memorized. For example, three quick taps means “come and assume heel position”, two slow taps means “down,” two quick taps means “sit”, etc. This will allow you to stop your dog dead in his tracks say, if he ran across the street chasing a ball and you want him to “sit” before he returns across the road.
Can this be done with a vibrate-only collar? Sure, but the e-collar with different stim levels allow for much gentler, more subtle information with more depth, allowing your dog to learn what you are asking more quickly and understand it more fully, which is important with a dog that you cannot verbally communicate with.
When training with e-collar for a dog that is deaf or partially deaf, I recommend that it is done very similarly to any other dog. Owners should still use verbal commands while using stim, as it helps us get used to the patterns, commands, and new method of training. Even if the dog can’t hear you, the commands hold great benefit in creating meaning for us. Remember, whether you call the action to sit “sit” or “banana” with a hearing capable dog, they are learning what you are teaching, they have no association with the english language except the association that we give them.
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Tips, tricks, and lessons learned from Everywhere Dog and their journey!
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