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Some very good information for anyone that has a deaf boxer. A lot of these tips, especially the use of hand signals work very well for our hearing boxers. I find mine respond much better to those than a spoken command.. :)

Training a deaf dog takes a MAJOR commitment and huge amounts of patience!!! This is because you will be mostly communicating with your dog through hand signals and body language.

Make hand signals:
1) clear,
2) distinguishable from other signs and gestures you commonly use,
3) visible from distance,
4) and constistant.

The first sign you should teach your dog is a sign that means they have done something well or have/is being a "good dog".. I use a thumbs up sign for this. An easy way to train the dog to what this means is by giving him a treat EVERY time he does something right accompanied by the thumbs up sign (sign should be given just before the treat).

Other basic signs to start training are sit (I used a closed fist), down (I point down with pointer finger out and rest of hand closed in a fist), stay (I use flat open hand pointing out toward dog [like stop sign]), come (wide sweeping motion back to front, hand flat and facing forward, arm straight out), no (I use I use the wag my finger sign [pointer finger up all others folded in, wag back and forth] for this), stop (I use arm straight up in the air, hand flat palm out facing dog, for this). I also recommend training a solid wait (I use the time out hand signal [left hand flat palm facing right side of body, left hand flat palm down;join both hands at right over left, left middle finger tips at right palm]] and a release hand signal (I use hands together in a praying/clapping motion). Also, train your dog to come in to the house by use of the sight of a waving flashlight in the dark and to heel (I use two pats on my left/right leg). It'll get his attention and signal that playtime is over and its time for feeding/bed/cuddles tc...etc...etc..

Repetition and time are what is required to train a deaf dog. There is no wrong hand signal to use for training (feel free to make up your own). Dont forget about your facial expressions and body language as that will make up the rest of your communication with your dog (see also, the stickey about dog body language; become familiar with it as it'll come in handy).

Treats and affection/praise are great ways to encourage your dog to learn your hand signals. Whatever treats you use, though, don't resort to bribery as your dog may get to where he is not be willing to do what you ask without the bribe.

A good way to get a deaf dogs attention is to thump/stomp your foot on the floor when he's looking away or asleep. He can feel the vibrations of this through the floor. Another way to wake him up is to put your hand in front of his nose so he can smell you.

Also, training your dog to track a certain smell (in case he gets lost; can track the smell back home and to you). (Request more info on this should you need it.)

How to train your dog to sit etc...etc...etc... Make sure you have treats!!!

NOTE: Before you start any of the below training...make sure your deaf dog understands the "Good Dog" hand signal!!!!

To train a sit:

Stand in front of your dog. Give him a smell of the treat to keep his attention. Putting the hand with the treat in it about 1.5-3 in from his nose, manuever your hand up, over and behind (slightly) his head to where he has to tip his head to look up at it. This take advantage of your dog natural tendency of sitting when the head looks up and back to a certain point. It may toake a few time for you dog to get it, but when he does...give LOTS OF PRAISE and treat!!!! Use release hand signal after the behavior has been completed.

To train a down:

In the sit position, put your treat hand (treat tucked between thumb and edge of palm) flat with palm facing down in front of your pups nose (.5-1 in away). Sweep your hand downward, parallel to the ground and towards you. This takes advantage of your dog following his nose to get the treat. (If you dog does not down for you after 5 minutes of trying to train the behavior, try a different surface. Some dogs don't like to down on concrete, grass, hardwood or any number of things. Use the process of elimination first, then we'll can utilize another method of teaching a down...let me know if you need more assistance.)

To train a stay:

Stay takes time and consistency. A dog usually doesn't get this as quickly as a sit or down. Start slow and close (right next to them) and progress to moving farther away. Put your dog in a sit. Give the hand signal for stay and have your dog hold it for five seconds. Give the release hand signal when your dog has completed the behavior. Do this for five minutes and move 1 step away. Repeat. Only train a stay when your dog is completely focused on you and only for a short amount of time (10-15 minutes max).

To train a come:

Use a toy or treat to lure your dog to you in combination with the hand signal. Once your dog has the command down with the toy/treat, begin elimainating it as a lure from your training!!! Your dog should come to you when called without the use of a toy or treat. Make sure that when they commit to the come (start moving in your direction) that you praise enthusiastically (body language comes in handy here as does facial expressions). When dog gets to you praise enthusiastically and treat!!!

To train a stop/no:

This is an exercise in action training event. Time and consistancy win here!!! When your dog is doing something inappropriate, stomp your foot. When you have your dogs attention use the hand signal for stop/no. It shouldn't take long for your dog to figure out what it means. When your dog has completed the command give the "Good Dog" hand signals and praise!

To train a wait:

One of the easiest ways to train a wait is to train this when feeding. It is easier at first to trani this with two people. One to hold the dog while on lead, the other to handle the feeding/training. Prepare your dog's food. Before you put ypur dogs food down, put your dog into a sit. Give the hand signal to wait. Slowly put the food on the floor. If your dog breaks the sit, start over. Do not put the food on the floor until your dog holds the sit and wait command. (This may take a few minutes, but usually doesn't take long as a dogs stomach can teach it many lessons.) When the dog has held the position and you have put the food on the floor, give the release hand signal and allow the dog to eat.

To train your dog to come in to the waving of a flashlight in the dark:

Keep your dog on a longline. When it is time for your dog to come in, give a GENTLE tug on the longline (or spotlight the flashlight at your dogs feet and then bring the light to your feet) to get your dogs attention and begin waving the flashlight while walking in the direction of the house. Once your dog has made the connection that the flashlight means its time to come in (you'll know this because your dog will automatically start to go in the direction of the house without you leading them or having to give a tug) you can remove the lead.

To train a deaf dog to heel while on lead:

This is much the same as training a hearing dog to heel. Put your dog at your left knee in a standing position and encourage his focus on you through use of a treat. Pat your left leg twice (make sure your dog sees this by drawing treat hand down to your thigh and using that hand to pat your leg), step out with your left foot. Walk at a brisk pace, keeping your dogs focus on your by keeping the dog interested in the treat. After walking 10-20 steps, praise and treat. Start over. You sould do this during everywalk and in the home (off lead) at every opportunity. Training a heel is an excellent way to teach your dog to focus on you as well.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need more info or specifics.

Liz and Lilly
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