Deaf dogs do, indeed, bark more — but they have a really good reason for it. If you noticed the behavior, your pooch might be:
- In pain
Do Deaf Dogs Bark More?
In most ways, deaf dogs are no different than hearing dogs. They are little fluff balls of love that are fun to be around and give us endless joy. But training a deaf dog can be challenging, and it does raise a lot of questions. For one, do deaf dogs bark more than hearing ones, and is there a way to correct that behavior? There are also concerns about communication, coping mechanisms, and separation anxiety. Today I’ll explain everything you need to know about deaf dogs and more.
Why Do Deaf Dogs Bark More?
Let’s answer this question right away: Do deaf dogs bark more? Yes, they do, but there are really good reasons for it. Just like most hearing dogs, deaf dogs will bark when they’re feeling anxious, scared, frustrated, or in pain.
Anxiety or Fear
Most hearing dogs are terrified of loud noises, such as fireworks or thunderstorms, and they can become anxious when they hear those sounds. Deaf dogs don’t share this problem (silver lining), but they do have other fears, and most revolve around their owners.
Countless dogs, both deaf and hearing, feel separation anxiety when they’re not with their humans. However, that sensation could be heightened in dogs that can’t hear, because they tend to be more afraid to be left alone.
To determine whether your dog’s barking has to do with separation anxiety, you need to watch its behavior. One of the best ways to do that is by getting a pet cam and recording your dog when you’re not home. See if the barking starts or increases then, and if it does, try the three methods described at the end of this article.
Understandably, once your dog loses its hearing, it’ll become frustrated because it’ll be more difficult for it to understand what’s happening. It also might be anxious or angry that it can’t hear when you come home, put food in its bowl, or call it to play. The more frustrated your dog gets, the more it’ll bark.
Another thing you have to consider if you have an older dog is that it might be frustrated because of its age. Your pooch can’t physically do all of the things that it used to, and that upsets it.
Fortunately, dogs are extremely adaptable creatures, and unlike humans, don’t wallow in their misfortune. So over time, if you give your dog enough affection and attention and teach it how to communicate with you, it’ll become much less frustrated.
Almost every dog in the world, no matter the size, breed, or (dis)ability, uses barking to communicate something. And more often than not, loud, incessant barks are just your pooch’s way to tell you that it’s hurt or in pain.
If you’ve ruled out social anxiety or frustration and suspect that your dog is hurting, you need to go to a vet right away. Also, be on the lookout for other signs of pain and discomfort, like pacing.
Accidental Behavior Reinforcement
Even though you might not realize it, there’s a chance that you’re reinforcing your dog’s undesirable behavior. Allow me to paint a picture.
Let’s say that your dog brings you a ball, plops it by your feet, and then starts barking and yelping until you pick it up. In an effort to make the barking stop, you pick the ball up and throw it. The second you do that, you reinforce that behavior, and teach your dog that barking gets results. But don’t worry, there is a fix to this problem, and I’ll get to it in a second.
Other Important Facts About Deaf Dogs
Now that I’ve answered the question do deaf dogs bark more, I want to talk about some other typical “deaf dog” behavior patterns. If you plan on fostering or adopting a deaf dog, these facts can save you a lot of frustration and confusion.
For example, it’s true that a deaf dog startles more easily, especially when it’s sleeping. One way to remedy this is by turning the lights on and off when trying to wake it up. Also, before entering your dog’s personal space, stop and take a second. That way, your pooch will be able to smell or sense your presence.
Another thing to keep in mind is that deaf dogs tend to be more attached to their owners. They’re what we refer to as velcro dogs and usually enjoy standing or sleeping way too close to you. While it can be somewhat annoying, it just means that your pooch loves you a lot and needs you in its life.
How to Train Barking Out of Deaf Dogs
Now that you know the answer to the question do deaf dogs bark more, it’s time to address the problem. The first thing you have to do is identify your dog’s triggers or the causes behind the barking. For example, does it only bark when it sees a squirrel in a tree or when you leave the room?
Once you’ve identified the triggers, you have to try and be there every time they happen. Then, you need to get your dog’s attention and give it commands to stop barking. There are a couple of ways you can do that.
1. Vibrating Collar
One of my personal favorite ways to treat excessive barking is with a vibrating collar. Even though it’s primarily used on deaf dogs, you can also use it on your hearing pooch if it barks too much.
To put your mind at ease, I want to say that a vibrating collar does not send any sort of shocks that could hurt your furry friend. Instead, they emit different levels of vibration that are just powerful enough to get your dog’s attention.
Once your dog starts barking, you have to wait for the exact moment that it stops or takes a break. Then, to redirect its attention, buzz the collar, and give a hand signal.
While the signal can be anything you want, it should still be simple enough so that you can do it quickly every time your pooch starts barking. But if you’ve never dealt with a deaf dog before, here’s a pictorial that can help you with some of the commands. Of course, you can change or adjust them as you see fit, but make sure that they’re consistent.
Then, once you’ve shown your dog the signal, provide a treat right away. Repeat this entire process a few more times until your pooch learns the hand command.
2. Flashlight Trick
The flashlight trick is pretty similar to using a vibrating collar, and it consists of you getting your dog’s attention. But this time, instead of waiting for the trigger, you (or a friend) have to be it. Have your friend start walking around or doing something to get your dog to bark.
Then, when your pooch responds, wait for that moment of silence, and get its attention. You should use a flashlight for signaling and point at your dog’s feet. Once it’s focused on the flashlight and not the trigger, give it the command to stop. Just like with the previous method, you have to reinforce the command with a treat.
Again, you’ll want to repeat this process every day for at least a week. Have someone walk around your dog for a few minutes, triggering it until it starts barking, and then use the flashlight to distract it. Then, show it the “be quiet” signal, and give a treat.
3. A Safe Spot
Another trick that you can try is essentially a version of crate training, and it combines the two previous methods. It’ll not only reduce the barking but also help with separation anxiety and make your dog feel safe.
So just like with the flashlight method, have someone be a trigger for your pooch by walking in close proximity. Then, as soon as your dog inevitably starts barking, wait for that moment of silence, put a leash on its neck, and give the hand signal.
Once you see that your dog took notice of your command, guide it back to its crate. Let your furry friend settle down, and give it a treat or toy to distract from the triggers. The most important thing is to create a safe space where your pooch can go when it’s feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or alone.
I hope I’ve thoroughly answered the question do deaf dogs bark more, and explained why they do it. Like I said, even though it can be a tad annoying, you have to understand what your pooch is going through. It’s sometimes scared or frustrated that it can’t hear, and it’s trying to communicate that. So just be patient, take your time, and give your dog some extra love and care.