Training and Caring for a Deaf Dog (cont.)

How do I keep my deaf dog safe?

Of course, there are some common-sense steps owners of a deaf dog should take, experts say. The first is keeping the dog on a leash or in a fenced yard for the pet's safety. A deaf dog can't hear a car or other danger coming.

To keep track of your dog, put a bell on her collar, Becker suggests. And put a tag on her that says "Deaf," along with your contact information.

One of the few problems people living with a deaf dog report is getting their pet's attention. Becker says at night it's easy, because deaf dogs can be taught to come in with the flash of a porch light or flashlight.

But during the day it can be harder if the dog is focused on something else. Russell says deaf dogs tend to become so bonded with their owners that they look to them constantly. Newstead says her dogs usually see her if she waves her arms. But she says if they're having a barking frenzy, she sometimes has to go over to them and touch them to get their attention.

Despite all the information available on caring for deaf dogs, Becker says many breeders still routinely euthanize deaf puppies. And deaf dogs dropped off at public shelters usually meet the same fate.

"Deaf dogs can have a wonderful life," Newstead says. "They can do agility, obedience. They can be therapy dogs. They can do almost anything a hearing dog can do -- there's nothing wrong with them. They're just a dog that can't hear."

SOURCES: Susan Cope Becker, author of "Living with a Deaf Dog," Vonore, Tenn.

George M. Strain, PhD, professor of neuroscience at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University.

Holly Newstead, co-founder of the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund and owner of five deaf dogs over the past 15 years, Navarro, Calif.

Dick Russell, owner of Dog Obedience with Dick Russell, Greenwell Springs, La.

Reviewed on November 18, 2009

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