Sign language with our deaf dog

Our old girl has become quite deaf over the past couple of years.  She doesn’t hear us when we come home.  If she is sleeping I wait for her to wake up before I greet her so I don’t make her jump out of her skin.  She doesn’t notice when I run the vacuum unless she sees it.  She once got lost on one of our favorite hiking trails two summers ago.  She couldn’t hear us call her.  (That was a scary day!)  Fireworks still spook her.  I think she can feel the vibration.

To compensate for her loss of hearing we have had to develop some new ways to communicate.  She watches us very closely.  Shoes and coat on – go for walk?  Go to work?  Am I coming?  When she wants to come in from outside she barks louder.  Maybe she thinks we don’t hear so well either.  Leaning hard on the leash at the corner means my old legs have walked far enough – can we take the short route?

When we were first training her when she was young we used a mix of hand signals and verbal commands.  Obviously, the verbal ones don’t work anymore.  These are some of our new hand signals that we have developed over the past couple years.

This means stay or sorry, you have to stay home

This means stay or sorry, you have to stay home

big arm sweep means come along please or let's go

big arm sweep means come along please or let’s go

this one means "bye-bye".  it's time for you to leave and go to work with "dad"

this one means “bye-bye”. it’s time for you to leave and go to work with “dad”

I don't know.  It's hard enough to communicate when you have language.  "Want to go out?"  "Need some water?"  sometimes we just figure out what the old girl wants.

I don’t know. It’s hard enough to communicate when you have language. “Want to go out?” “Need some water?” sometimes we just can’t figure out what the old girl wants.

Rosie with a bit of snow on her nose. Isn't she an adorable old girl?

Rosie with a bit of snow on her nose. Isn’t she an adorable old girl?

What sort of communication routines have you and your pet worked out?

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6 thoughts on “Sign language with our deaf dog

  1. Pingback: In the time before dying | composting words

  2. Love you all so much. Thanks for sharing how important animals are to Our world of ‘Life is Good’ Rosie is a wonderful gentle dog & she too deserves aging respect…

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  3. A lovely post showing the lifelong love we share with our fur-kids. My seven-years-young (but still greying around the muzzle) went quickly blind this past June (within days… S.A.R.D.) and the family have all adapted with new communication from leg slapping and ‘Step up’ and ‘step down’ and all kinds of vocal things. Also I talk and walk more noisily as I approach her napping to not startle her. Thanks for a great post. And bless your heart for being such a loving canine ‘mom’.
    Cheers from a kindred spirit, Gina

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    • Aww Gina thanks for the lovely response. Our fur kids give us their whole heart and loyalty. I can see you agree that they deserve our good care as they age. I had never heard of S.A.R.D. Sounds like you have come up with some great strategies to communicate with your dog.

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