How To Train A Deaf Dog

Written by Amber LaRock
Published: December 29, 2022
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If you have welcomed a deaf dog into your family, you might be nervous about the training process that lies ahead. Many worry that obedience training for a deaf dog is much more difficult, but that’s actually not the case at all! Many pet parents to deaf dogs explain that their hearing loss does not impact their ability to learn, and that you simply need to approach their training with a different set of tools.

We want to help you and your pup move forward with your training process, so let’s discuss everything you need to know about training a deaf dog below! Let’s dive in!

Can You Train A Deaf Dog?

Training a dog

Training a deaf dog is no more difficult than training a hearing dog

©Christian Mueller/

A deaf dog may require a different training approach than a hearing dog, but they are just as trainable as their hearing canine friends. Dogs rely heavily on their senses throughout the training process, so you simply need to utilize the other senses outside of hearing. Our deaf canine companions might not be able to hear a clicker or your positive praise, but they can still visualize hand cues and taste the yummy treat in your hand. At the end of the day, training a deaf dog is no more difficult than training a hearing dog.

Do I Need To Train My Deaf Dog?

If you are nervous about the training process for your deaf dog, you might be inclined to ditch the process altogether. While we understand that the unknown can be daunting for many people, it’s important to realize how important it is to have a dog that understands basic obedience. Not only is obedience training essential for having a well-mannered pup, but training also helps to instill confidence in your dog. A confident and skilled dog will behave better at home, will be comfortable around other animals, and will be a better companion all around. Obedience training is essential for both the owner and the dog, so you never want to withhold training for any reason.

How To Train A Deaf Dog – Everything You Need To Know

Now that you know just how possible it is to train a deaf dog, let’s walk through the tools needed to offer your pup success. Their training may not include clickers or other auditory cues, but the alternatives are easy to achieve!

Use Treats As Incentive

Treats will be your best friend throughout your dog’s training process whether they are deaf or hearing! Treats will be your dog’s motivation for learning new tricks and staying engaged, so you will want to find some treats that your pup really enjoys. Just be sure that your treats of choice are easy to break into small pieces, as this will allow you to stretch a small serving of treats a long way.

Teach Them How To Focus On You

Since your deaf pup will need to rely on watching visual cues throughout their training, you will need to show them how to focus on you to receive direction. In order to show your pup that paying attention to you is worth their effort, you will need to rely on treats and some type of attention signal. You won’t be able to call your dog’s name and get their focus on you, so a gentle attention signal is a great way to achieve this. Some of the best gentle attention signals for blind dogs includes lightly touching their shoulder, flashing a light or laser near them, and using vibrations by tapping on the ground or stomping lightly.

Once you determine the best attention signal for your pup, you will want to reward them with a treat each time they look at you. By rewarding them each time they offer you their full attention, you will soon be able to add basic commands into the mix. Having your dog’s eyes on you is essential when training a deaf dog, so this step is the most important part of the training process.

Establisher A Marker Cue For Treats

Once your deaf dog has mastered their focus on you, you will want to establish a marker cue for treats. A clicker is a common marker tool for dogs right before they get a treat, so you will simply need to implement a visual marker instead. This could be anything from giving them a thumbs up to patting on your thigh, as long as it works for you and your pup. As long as you are consistent with your marker cue and use it right before you give them any treats, your dog will soon associate this signal with their upcoming reward.

Adopt Visual Cues For Commands

Once your deaf dog knows how to focus on you and understands your marker for treats, then it is time to move forward with basic obedience! Teaching a deaf dog basic commands will be just like teaching a hearing dog, but you will simply use visual cues instead of verbal cues. For example, instead of telling your dog to sit with the verbal cue of “sit”, you will implement a visual cue of your choice! If your visual cue involves you pointing toward the ground, then you will put your dog into the seated position, and follow it up with your visual “sit” cue and your treat marker right before you reward them. The only difference in training a deaf dog is the use of visual cues versus verbal cues.

How Do I Praise My Deaf Dog?

why do dogs howl at sirens

Deaf dogs might not be able to hear a clicker or positive praise, but they can still visualize hand cues and taste the yummy treat in your hand.

©Christian Mueller/

If you are beginning the training process with your deaf dog, you might be wondering how you can offer them praise throughout the process. You might not be able to offer them the verbal praise you are familiar with, but you can still reward them with treats and affection. A tasty treat and a few pats on their head will be enough to not only keep your deaf dog motivated, but it will show them just how much they are loved. We know it may be sad to think that your deaf dog cannot hear your loving words, but other forms of support work just as well.

My Old Dog Is Now Deaf, How Do I Keep Up With Training?

So what if you have a dog that has lost their hearing due to old age? You might think you can no longer keep up with their learned commands, but this is not true at all. Old dogs are just as capable of learning new tricks, so you will simply follow the training steps that we discussed above. You will follow the same steps of gaining their focus, establishing a treat marker, creating your visual cues, and rewarding hem each step of the way. Not only will this allow your old dog to maintain their confidence through obedience training, but it will be great for their cognitive health as well. Many experts recommend encouraging your old dog to use their brain each day, as this might help to prevent cognitive deterioration as they age.

Final Thoughts

We know how worried you are about your deaf dog’s training process, but just know that it is still very similar to training a hearing dog. As long as you are dedicated to the process and plan to reward your pup each step of the way, then you will have a skilled canine companion in no time!

Be sure to review our training tips for deaf dogs that we discussed above, and to maintain as much patience as possible throughout the process. If you run into any complications throughout your dog’s training, you can always reach out to a professional dog trainer for guidance.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © otsphoto/

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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