My parents and I have a thirteen-year-old Standard Poodle named Shadow. She’s always been very well behaved and went through training classes as a puppy. She walks well with all of us, and listened attentively to commands (such as “sit” or “quiet”). Unfortunately, she’s lost her hearing with age, so verbal commands no longer have the same effect.
She barks much louder and will bark at the entrance to the kitchen until she gets food or someone pets her – this is a recent behavior that she never exhibited before. She barks through dinner or while we’re on the phone and gets very disruptive! What can we do to help calm her? And what other general cues can we use since she can no longer hear us?
Cesar Millan Responds
It is likely that your dog exhibited this type of demanding behavior before but was communicating it in a different way. Simple acts like entering the kitchen to ask for food can be a way of controlling the situation. Now that your dog is deaf, it sounds like the behavior has become more intense.
Communicating with a deaf dog is actually easier than communicating with a dog that still has her hearing intact. Deaf dogs sense energy and focus on body language better. I have worked with many cases where the dog is deaf, and I get quicker results than I do with a normal dog. I would recommend researching how blind people communicate with their dogs since they can’t see body language, and how deaf people communicate with other people. Once you tap into that simple understanding, you will see that it’s all vibration, or energy.
Remember, dogs experience the world: nose, eyes, and then ears. Utilize your dog’s nose and eyes to communicate. Too often we rely on verbal commands, which is not the best way to communicate with a dog. Use scents to get your dog’s attention, and use your body language to tell your dog what you expect of her.
Remember don’t feel bad, sorry, or sad that your dog is deaf. This will block communication with your dog, because she will simply interpret this as weak energy. She won’t understand why you are feeling upset. She will simply understand that you are sharing unstable energy, and this throws your leadership into question. In order to help your dog, you must maintain calm-assertive energy.