A common piece of advice to someone with a deaf dog is to get a vibration or shock collar. This makes me sad. Deaf dogs are so smart and are unusually attentive to us because they need to watch us to gather information.
These pieces of equipment are completely not necessary when training or communicating with a deaf (or blind/deaf) dog.
Positive reinforcement training works beautifully with all dogs regardless of their sensory abilities, and it builds trust and a beautiful relationship between person and dog.
The more we teach our deaf dogs, the more they will learn to watch us to see what we may be communicating to them next. We can easily teach our deaf dog to check in with us automatically at various intervals to allow us windows in which to communicate. The more we reinforce this, the more our dogs will pay attention to us.
This is my blind/deaf collie Vinny. He is a joy to live with, is very confident and well-adjusted, and can be trusted off leash when appropriate. He has obtained a very high level of training and competes in dog sports with me, as well as being a certified therapy dog.
Vinny has been taught from day 1 with positive reinforcement training. We have never used a shock or vibration collar. It is possible! And not at all difficult!
The truth is that shock and electronic collars are intended to cause discomfort and pain to dogs. This is how people can use them to change behavior. The dog wants to avoid the shock, so they learn how they should or shouldn’t behave when the collar is on. Dogs become very scared, confused and stressed when they are experiencing shock.
Using collars with vibration settings only is still startling and confusing, and can be very aversive to many dogs. I am contacted daily by people who have tried a vibration collar because some well-meaning person told them they needed to get one because they had a deaf dog.
They tell me the collars don’t work. They show me videos of their poor dogs becoming more and more stressed each time they push the button to vibrate the collar. And they tell me the dog’s behavior has gotten worse instead of better.
Shock and vibration collars can cause a lot of distress in dogs and can erode trust in their human training partner. I don’t want to cause my own or my client’s dogs pain, fear or stress. I want them to be happy and easy to live with.
Distressed dogs often are challenging to live with as they show many behaviors that we don’t like. Why take the chance of causing pain, anxiety, confusion and fear in your dog?
Instead, start out from the beginning building trust and a desire from your dog to want to partner with and pay attention to you. If you’d like more guidance about teaching your deaf or blind/deaf dog using positive reinforcement and without these unnecessary tools, please contact me today. I’m always happy to help! www.yourinnerdog.com