It is known that dogs respond to body language more than to verbal commands, which can come in handy when training dogs with hearing disabilities.This is often the case with Dalmatians, as they are prone to hereditary deafness.
Deaf dogs, can be taught sign-language in a similar way to hearing ones, including the reward system, and seem to take to it fast.
This is because even with verbal training, dogs tend to take signs or body language cues to help them learn the verbal command.
This is great news for deaf dog owners, although teaching a dog sign language doesn’t have to be reserved for deaf dogs or owners and can be a highly effective way to communicate with your dog.
You can choose to use British or American Sign Language, or make up your own signs, provided that you are consistent.
There are two crucial signs that a dog should be taught before moving onto any of the other commands.
The first is ‘correct’ or ‘good dog’, which could be a ‘thumbs up’ for example.
To teach it, sit with your dog, then use the sign and give the dog a treat, repeat several times.
A test to see if your dog understands is to give the sign, if he/she looks at you questioningly, she has learned the sign and you can move on to the next one.
The second sign is ‘watch me’, which is more a habit to encourage and will help you in future training.
To do this, put a treat up against the dogs nose (make sure he doesn’t eat it), then bring it up to your nose, and then make the ‘good dog’ sign.
After a few days of this, move onto the next phase of this command.
Hold the treat away from you in different places each time, and although initially the dog will probably look at the treat, eventually he will get impatient and look at you.
Immediately make the ‘good dog’ sign and give him the treat.
Over time randomly reward your dog when he makes eye-contact.