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Old December 19th, 2008, 09:26 AM
Helene4 Helene4 is offline
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Older dog losing hearing

Hi everyone, my 13 year old dog Mickey has been gradually losing his hearing. I know it is normal for an older dog to become hard of hearing but do any of you have tips to make life easier in this situation? Are there products on the market to address this problem? (type of whistle, vibrating collar, etc).
Thanks for your comments.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 09:42 AM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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If Mickey is in the process of losing his hearing, he'll be more sensitive to some frequencies than to others. If you can find whistles of different frequencies, you may be able to find one that he can still here. Look for a lower frequency whistle (although they'll probably all be in the upper half of our hearing range, one on the lower end of that scale may work for him).

Luckypenny was fostering a deaf puppy for a while. I think the pup turned out to be pretty profoundly deaf, but maybe LP has some suggestions about what worked for her with Emma.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 09:49 AM
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I know someone with a borndeaf pup who uses a vibration collar as the dog's "name", to get his attention/to look at her, and has taught him hand commands. Perhaps, if he doesn't know any "signs" or hand commands yet, now would be a good time to start teaching him while he still has some hearing. Simply use both the verbal and the hand command simultaneously, so he can make the link...he should learn them quickly...(we use hand commands interchageably with verbal with our hearing dogs)
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Old December 19th, 2008, 10:01 AM
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We also use the dual voice/hand signals. How could I have forgotten that? I guess I need more coffee!

But yes, the hand signals are great. Make up signals that you'll remember and practice them often and you'll be amazed at how quickly Mickey will catch on.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 11:14 AM
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diandpat diandpat is offline
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Our beautiful 14.5 yr old Ginger has been losing her hearing for 1.5 yrs. I can say now that she is for all intents and purposes deaf except...If you clap your hands loudly you can get her attention and she seems to react when Hobo barks I think she probably feels vibrations more than she "hears" but at least we are communicating.

When we adopted her she had been trained in French so when we trained her in English we used hand signals so that definitely has made her loss of hearing a bit easier. The other thing we started doing was either walk heavy on the floor or put our hand in front of her nose before waking her so as not to startle her. She was just getting too jumpy if we went up and pet her like we used to.

The biggest problem is walking in the wood trails off leash as she gets behind sometimes when she stops to sniff or she is miles ahead on the way to the car and I can't get her attention. I make a point to stay very close now.

All in all I can honestly say she does not seem unhappy. She is actually more cuddly now, maybe because she needs more physical stimulation.

Last edited by diandpat; December 19th, 2008 at 04:53 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old December 19th, 2008, 03:48 PM
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One of my dogs went deaf when she was about 10 or so. We used hand signals with her, and as long as she was looking at you, those worked great. If she was not looking at me, I'd place myself in front of her so she'd see my legs - and invariably she would look up when she saw my legs. Sometimes it was a challenge to get in front of her, especially during our camping trips if she was engrossed in sniffing or following a scent. I did not let people approach her from behind if she was sleeping or distracted, because she was easily startled but overall, her quality of life did not change and she was a happy dog til she crossed the bridge at 17 yrs old.

IMO, deafness is one of the easiest disabilities to deal with in dogs.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 11:22 PM
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luckypenny luckypenny is offline
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You've gotten some great advice. Hand signals, vibrating collar, whistles (you may have to try several different ones before you find one that he best responds to), being careful to not startle him if he's not used to it, etc.

We did gently startle and wake our foster pup, Emma, on purpose in order to teach her to associate it with "fun." Each time, she'd be met with a yummy treat or a new toy. I don't know if you'd want to try this with your boy but, if there are young children in the home, it may be a good idea to start slowly. It will also be beneficial should he suffer any degree of loss of his vision in the future. (Children and visitors should always be supervised when near Mickey though).

Unfortunately, we never found a whistle that Emma could hear. We did thump the floor with our feet when we were indoors if we wanted her attention and she wasn't looking our way. Outdoors, we used flashlights, and jumping jacks (yes, my neighbors had the proof to confirm I had finally lost it). It also helped that we have other dogs so if we called them to us, she, more often than not, followed.

Because Mickey is 13, I would advise that you always keep him on leash if you can't give him 100% of your attention. Our experience with our senior dog, Peanut, taught us that things could very quickly change. A dog who spent his entire life glued to his humans' sides, he wandered on two occasions where we thought we would never see him again . We were very lucky we found him both times before something unfortunate could very well have happened to him.

Here's a fantastic site I'm sure you'll find invaluable:

http://www.deafdogs.org/training/
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Old December 20th, 2008, 10:59 AM
Helene4 Helene4 is offline
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Thanks for all the advice. I already do the hand-verbal signals, I will try the flashing lights trick. I think my parents used it when my childhood dog Tabby became deaf while I was away at university. My biggest problem is when Mickey goes out at night before bedtime. Sometimes it takes longer than usual (he's probably smelling fox or rabbit tracks around the house!) so maybe by flashing the outdoor light I might get his attention. It could become our signal for "time to come back"!

When we go for walks off leash in the woods , which we only do in winter, he stays in the trail not to far and always turns around to see if we are following. He also pays attention to Arielle: if she hears a snowmobile she will jump in the snow alongside the trail. Mickey will stop and look around because he knows something is up.

I don't have a problem with Mickey being jumpy at this point, I think the jumpy stage happened months ago; he is now very calm and isn't startled when we touch him even when he is sleeping. He isn't totally deaf: he can hear me call him if I do it very loudly, or if I clap my hands but sometimes he will wonder where the noise came from. He can also hear Arielle when she barks so that's good.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 04:16 PM
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mummummum mummummum is offline
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A flashlight ~ what a great idea Luckypenny ! Thanks! I'm going to to try this with Declan
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Old December 21st, 2008, 04:43 PM
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erykah1310 erykah1310 is offline
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At night with Bailey we use flashlights to get his attention. He almost has picked up on the different morse code like things we are telling him with the light, constant on and off means come towards the light, time to come in and get treats...
Long light on, he now moves into the beam as we are trying to see where he is.

Deaf dogs are really not that hard to work with, it just always breaks my heart that I worry he thinks I just stopped talking to him though, thats the hardest part for us.

He's not completely deaf though, if we stand right in front of him and basically yell his name he eventually looks around to see what is happening but doesn't look at us anymore right away, when he does we do handsignals.
He was never taught hand signals so when we noticed his hearing starting to "slip" we started using verbal and hand. I'm happy we did when we did.

Good luck with everything, and it is sort of fun teaching them the basics all over again I have to admit.
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Old January 5th, 2009, 12:57 PM
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lm9012 lm9012 is offline
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These are great tips! i was just going to post about this and thought I'd check first.
Albert is starting to lose his hearing. It's more when he is further away. if he's in the same room, he'll respond. but if he's a few rooms away, I have to go get him. But just this weekend I was only four feet away from him, he was outside barking to come in, and i was out back, i went around the side of the house to get him. He could hear me..I called his name and his ears perked up and he started wagging his tail fast...but he couldn't make up the direction my voice was coming from. :sad:
I finally got right next to him, and he looked relieved to finally find me! poor little guy! I do worry about our nightly walks..since he's normally off leash. My whole neighborhood knows his name since I yell over to him and he keeps going! I try to make sure I am not distracted on the phone or anything and stay with him. Especially when they catch a scent! They'll ignore you even with perfect hearing!

I've been thinking about a whistle..but I was worried it would hurt him. Maybe the flashlight would be better for now. the vet checked him and wasn't too worried..but he tested his close range hearing.
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