LIVING WITH A DEAF BOXER
Whether you choose a puppy to take home or you offer a rescue / shelter boxer a home there is the possibility that he or she may be deaf. In the case of an adult rescue dog more likely than not you will be made well aware of their deafness from the outset. However it is not always immediately obvious that your puppy may be deaf.
Offering a deaf dog or boxer a home is more than worth the extra effort involved in not only training them but also the satisfaction of knowing “you” gave them the chance of a loving home. However remember training a perfectly healthy hearing boxer can be a challenge in itself, don’t expect training a deaf dog to be any easier. The rewards for your patience, perseverance, devotion, care, understanding and attention will be repaid by a companion that will become your best friend.
Identifying that your puppy is deaf whether partially or completely can be diagnosed to some extent at home with some very simple and basic tests. When your puppy is sleeping ring the doorbell, does he or she wake up? If yes then probably they can hear, although they could also have picked up on vibrations through the floor so make sure you creep out of the room. Try clapping your hands near to the puppy – does the pup respond, again don’t get to close as they may feel the air move when you clap. Shout loudly, do they respond? Ring a bell, blow a whistle etc.
If you find your boxer does not respond to the majority of the above tests it may be worth getting your puppy or dog hearing test to confirm the level of deafness. If however you accept that he or she is deaf without the tests it may still be worth getting a vet to make sure that the ear canal is not blocked – it has been known for pups to have bedding such as sawdust lodged in the ear causing infection.
Once you have confirmation of deafness it is time to adapt yourself and your new arrival to life in your home and the outside world. As your boxer cannot hear you he or she will read your body language and that of others including animals. If you move suddenly you may startle them, if you adopt a dominant stance they will become submissive.
You may find that your deaf dog is more wary, jumpy or skittish than a hearing boxer. Generally this can be attributed to the fact that obviously they do not have the ability to judge your mood by the tone or volume of your voice. For example if you are playing around jumping around the room they may misinterpret this as an aggressive movement, as you are “top dog” they may run for cover or become wary of you.
Whilst you boxer is getting to know you and their surroundings it is important you start training classes as early as possible, try and find a local training class that has some knowledge of techniques and signs required to aid you in a long and happy life with your new addition. Purchase a book with recognised “sign” techniques and activities for deaf dogs, whilst the signs will no doubt come in handy the likely hood is your boxer will be more than active enough.
Remember boxers are intelligent dogs and will thrive on structured and varied training, by no means should you assume that because your boxer is deaf it is any less capable than a hearing dog. As the owner of 2 boxers one hearing (Molly) and one deaf (Tasha) I can assure you that Tasha is very capable and equally as lively, energetic and mischievous as Molly. Not only does Tasha match Molly when running and acting the clown but she is also more obedient! Obedience is something that comes with time and patience, both of which you will need plenty of to ensure you have a happy and fulfilled time with your pet.
Here are some dos:
Do take time to train your dog whenever and wherever possible
Seek advice and help from your vet, specialist trainers / behaviourists
Do let your dog know when they have done well!
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DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page is based on personal experience/opinion only and is not intended to act as professional advice, nor replace the information given by any professional body.