Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting occasion. Chances are that you will be unable to stop yourself from repeatedly telling your puppy just how darn cute they are. But what about if you begin to suspect that your furry bundle of joy is unable to hear your compliments?
Checks to Perform at Home
Puppies are energetic and prone to distraction, making it difficult to pinpoint their response to stimuli, which in turn makes it difficult to assess whether they are capable of hearing you. Call your puppy. Do they acknowledge the sound? Speak to your puppy while they sleep. Do they wake up? Your puppy might turn to look at you as you approach them, leading to confusion as to whether they can hear you. They might simply feel the vibrations of your steps, so when your puppy is not looking at you, try walking towards them across carpeted floor, while not wearing shoes. If they fail to notice you in this manner, along with failing to respond to verbal cues, you will need to take your puppy to your vet for a hearing test.
A Formal Hearing Test
Deafness can be confirmed with a visit to your vet surgery. In addition to a visual inspection of your dog's auditory canal, your vet will perform a brainstem auditory evoked potential test, which involves up to 500 different auditory stimuli of no more than six milliseconds. This is essentially the same process used to diagnose hearing difficulties in humans, and your vet will be able to determine if your puppy has a hearing impairment or is completely deaf. In some instances, growths (polyps) within the auditory canal can result in compromised hearing. If your vet identifies this as an issue, then the growths will be surgically removed, and once your puppy has healed, their hearing will be reassessed.
After the Diagnosis
Training a deaf puppy is, rather obviously, different from training a puppy who can hear your commands. You will need to rely largely upon hand signals, although renowned dog trainer Cesar Millan suggests that you should still verbalise the commands, if only mostly for your benefit, in order to help you feel the energy behind the command (which in turn helps your dog). If you are enrolling your puppy in obedience classes, be sure to mention that your puppy is deaf, since there might be a specialist class available. You can also train your puppy yourself, utilising such tools as a torch and a vibrating collar. On the subject of collars, consider purchasing a GPS tracker collar for your puppy. If your dog should wander off, you can't simply call their name, so being able to track them can help to keep them safe.
A lack of hearing isn't a hindrance to having a happy and healthy dog, although they will need a little extra assistance.