dogs, handlers can feel even more helpless when confronted with a dog that simply does not want to know he is on the end of the leash. Handlers may feel embarrassed and that the task is impossible because of the physical disabilities of their dog. The following suggested methods work very well for hearing/seeing dogs also and this allows the tutor to have the whole group work on an exercise without having to single a particular team out. The dog may simply never have learned to pay attention to a handler, or he may find that the vibrations/echoes/sounds of the training environment overwhelm his senses. Experience with partially deaf/partially blind dogs in our classes suggests that they are sensitive to both the vibrations and low-level noises in the hall which handlers may not be noticing. Basic desensitization and counter conditioning when, for example, the other dogs bark may be sufficient to help to settle the distracted deaf/visually-impaired dog. It is also worth considering what the deaf dog will be able to see during a class. If you as the trainer tend to use big hand and arm movements when explaining an exercise, then the deaf dog is likely to be distracted by this when
* The Deaf Dog Education Action Fund (DDEAF) is very accessible and sells bandanas to alert people to a dog’s deafness. * Deaf Dog Network (DDN) and its Facebook page both include a collection of videos of teaching signs. * Barry Eaton Hear Hear (2005) is one of the best available books on living with and training a deaf dog, most easily available direct here. * An online sign language dictionary is good for getting ideas for signs and seeing the visual of how to move your hands. Morag Heirs’ favorite can be found at ALSpro.com. * Basic Sign Language is a leaflet written for the Association of Pet Behavior Counsellors (APBC) by Morag Heirs. * The Deaf Dogs Manifesto is a comprehensive and frequently updated collection of information and discussion about all things relating to deaf dogs. * Blind Dog Information here. * Simple summary of living with a blind dog here. * Facebook page for Blind Dog Rescue UK
facing you. People use their hands when talking more often than we expect and this too can be a source of distraction to the deaf dog, who is busy try- Bonnie the Jack Russell terrier practising recall. ing to Deaf dogs must have a work out pre-trained behavior to what the seek out their handler handler is saying. The classic settle mat exercise can provide a great way of grounding the distracted dog and giving him an anchor point. Just remember that however you normally teach the exercise, for the deaf dog it is more important to have a distinctive hand signal. For the blind or visually-impaired dog, using a scented mat can be a life saver - although I have also used a quietly ticking alarm clock to help them to orient. If using scented oils, make sure they are on the underside of a porous mat rather than where they will be licked and use VERY little – a dog’s sense of smell is incredible compared to ours and we do not want to put him off by using a strong or unpleasant scent. Pattern games, as developed by Leslie McDevitt, are an excellent way of creating structure, focus and predictability in the environment for any dogs and will be discussed in more detail in future articles. There is also a DVD and several YouTube videos available that outline the stages for hearing and seeing dogs. n Morag Heirs PhD MSc MA(SocSci)(Hons) PGCAP Human and Canine Remedial Massage Therapist is a Companion Animal Behavior Counselor who runs Well Connected Canine in York, UK. She works with deaf and blind dogs professionally, provides training and support for the Deaf Dog Network and is the behaviorist for Sheffield Animal Centre (RSPCA) and York & District RSPCA branches in the UK.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2014
Your BARKS summer edition. The quarterly publication from The Pet Professional Guild