1 1/2 year old, white boxer who is gentle yet full of energy, curious, goofy (bull in a china shop kind of dog), happy and deaf. He has carefully placed black spots that looks like a kid started to paint him. One spot on each eye, a tiny drip on his ear and a splash on his nubbin. He has an over-sized tongue that hangs out of the side of his mouth… almost always. He can give a bit of attitude and stubbornness as a typical boxer. He I runs like a horse, prances like a deer, shadows freak him out and he barks like he can hear (you know what I’m talking if you’ve heard a deaf dog bark).Take out all the words deaf from this description - would you know that he is deaf? Probably not, right? I think most people forget that we teach our boxers our language whether it be English, Spanish, French, or Sign. Training a deaf boxer isn't that much different than training a hearing boxer. Here are 4 quick tips on how to train a deaf boxer:
- Be Clear and Concise when you Communicate. Teach your boxer sign language. For example, tap your boxer once (always use the same spot) to let them know to watch you and that you need to communicate. More signs, can be found here. Consistency and repetition are key.
- Use Positive Reinforcement! Remember you are training with your hands by signing, so you should never use your hands to punish! Use a primary reinforcer - FOOD/TREATS to reward. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, use it to your advantage!
- Safety Proof the Environment! Use a kennel or crate for your boxer when they are alone. Make sure your yard is secure. And always use a leash when walking a deaf dog. You should also use a collar that indicates the dog is deaf, in the event that your boxer is lost or so anyone you approach knows your boxer is deaf (see it here). Use night lights -dark and deaf would be scary to you and it is to a boxer as well.
- Socialize Your Boxer. The more you socialize your boxer with touch, the better. This teaches them not to be startled by touch. Make sure you do this in all environments. Use vibrations to help alert your boxer, such as touching their bed when they are sleeping and walking heavily when you enter a room.