Deafness in Bull Terriers

In one of our recent articles, we wrote about diseases and disorders in Bull Terriers. One of them is deafness.

The most common type of deafness in dogs is Congenital sensorineural deafness (CSD). It is believed that only white Bull Terriers can be deaf, but this is not completely true. Deafness can occur in both white and colored Bull Terriers, although white ones are deaf more often. Of all white bullies, about 20% are born deaf. Compared to them, the deafness in colored ones is about only 1%. Deafness can occur in only one ear or in both ears. All Bull Terrier puppies should pass a BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) test and confirm that their hearing is normal.

To learn how to recall deaf dog, you must first attract the his attention, which can sometimes be challenging for hearing-impaired dogs. However, it doesn't have to be this way.

Deaf dogs have proven to us that spoken words and the ability to listen are not necessary when it comes to communication. As keen observers, dogs can learn to observe our body language by observing what we say. After all, dogs don’t talk to each other in the same way that humans do and instead rely on each other’s body language to communicate to each other.

Just as dogs easily understand when we are about to leave home watching us pull on our jackets or know when we are going to walk them by grabbing a leash from the closet, dogs can learn to associate our physical signs with certain actions and quickly adapt to them so we can train them.

Not to mention that, today with the advancement of technology, there are several great gadgets that can be used to attract the attention of your hearing impaired bull terrier.

Although it is a nice gesture to adopt a deaf puppy or an adult dog, you must be aware of certain things. Owning and training deaf bull terriers is difficult and can be a quite challenging. Challenging, but not impossible! :)

My experience with our deaf bull terrier, Calisto, has been nothing but amazing. She's gentle and sweet with every person and animal she meets. Her best friend is a foster cat, Dora.
What we found helpful while raising her was to make sure she was comfortable with affection and playing, in the beginning it was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that she couldn't hear when she would play and bite me way too hard. I had to constantly remind myself that she can't hear me, so your expressions and SHOWING her no is something you have to do, we found it helpful to use handsigns or a tap on the nose. ALSO REMEMBER TO REWARD GOOD THINGS. She was very easy to train and she picked tricks up quickly.
Another thing we did while she was a puppy is we gave her lots of pets and kisses, note here that its helpful if you touch your dog when they sleep, eat, anytime you can, so that the pup is comfortable with being touched to avoid her being frightened and biting. She is a silly, playful pup that loves cuddles and playing with her ball. I wouldn't change her in any way.
Instagram: @calisto_the_warriorInstagram: @calisto_the_warrior


How to capture the attention of a hearing impaired dog?

The main difference when calling a deaf dog is the fact that a deaf dog cannot hear its name. Deprived of the ability to hear important verbal cues like "Maggie, come!", deaf dogs can't come when invited as they are normally trained. Instead, deaf dogs require specialized training, using special tools or strategies to replace the calling of a dog’s name.

There are several ways that deaf dog owners can train them to come when called. When in the house, some dog owners manage to call the dog by tapping their feet on the ground. Deaf dogs will not hear noise, but will feel the vibrations produced. When you are outside with the deaf dog, things can be challenging because they can be distracted by various sights and smells. The lamps work great on deaf dogs, but can be difficult to use during the day. At night, turning on an outdoor lamp can be used as a signal that dog needs to come. During the day, deaf dog owners can rely on the use of hand signals or a vibrating collar.

No matter what tool or method you use, one thing is very important: your dog must be trained to respond to it. This is achieved by creating positive associations, initially at close distances and in areas with small distractions. A great and quick way to create positive associations is with food.

For example, when you tap your foot on the floor and the dog turns his head in your direction, you will throw him a treat to reward turning his head. After repeating this several times, the dog soon learns that the vibrations produced by tapping your foot on the floor lead to the treat, so he will become more and more responsive, to the point where you can train your Bull Terrier to come to you from every corner of the room and feed him the treat by hand.

The same is with hand signals. In a room with little distraction, when your dog is nearby, make a hand movement to signal your dog to come. You may need to wave your arms so that the movement captures your dog’s peripheral vision (some dog owners use bandana tied to their wrist to get the dog's attention). Once the dog reaches you, reward him with 2-3 treats.

Janice is so loving, loyal, and of course, adorable. However, there are definitely a lot of challenges. Training her is not too difficult, however, her deafness makes it near impossible to make it clear when we are angry with her or want her to stop doing something. Our last dog was able to tell when we were mad because of our tone of voice and the abruptness of our speech when we were angry or saying “no”.
Janice’s deafness and partial blindness makes her unable to understand this and additionally makes her unable to see our posture when we are trying to stop her from doing something she shouldn’t be doing. Also, because she cannot see well up close and cannot hear when she is being approached from behind, she may bite if snuck up on or bite other dogs who try to approach her, which is extremely difficult when walking her and in general. She cannot have a social life and cannot learn cues and ways of life from other dogs.
Because of these challenges, we have to approach training and reprimanding from a loving and patient perspective. This can be very difficult, especially when she is barking aggressively (which is especially loud because she cannot hear herself) or biting. But because she is so affectionate and loving in nature, it is easy to love and forgive her and makes owning her worth all the trouble.
Janice the Bull TerrierInstagram: @janice_the_bull_terrier


How to train a deaf dog with a vibrating collar?

A deaf dog training collar, better known as a vibrating collar, as its name suggests, is a collar that in vibration mode delivers vibrations similar to the vibration emitted by a cell phone.

Vibrating collars are often confused with shock collars, but today there are vibrating collars that do not have an impact component. Please look only for collars with a vibrating function with no shock.

Vibrating collars, unlike the shock ones, are not used to correct the dog's behavior, but as a substitute to get the his attention. Ideally, you should introduce a vibration collar after basic exercises so that the collar improves your communication. In the initial stages, you would provide a vibration and at the same time give the dog a treat right in front of you. After a while, first start giving vibrations and then give a treat right after, not at the same time.

If your dog seems to initially ignore the vibration, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it, it just means he hasn’t had a chance to understand what exactly it means. A good way to check if the dog learned what the vibration means is to vibrate the collar and observe any indications that the dog is looking in your direction or is looking for a treat after the vibration.

Once you get a good solid set of responses with your dog looking at you at close distances, then you can begin to gradually move to greater distances and more distractions.

Caution: Avoid pressing the vibrating button several times in a row if your dog is not paying attention to you. If you do, the vibration will become unimportant and will lose its meaning. Instead, approach your dog and assess why he didn't pay attention, so you can correct him and prevent it from happening again. Often, the reason is exposure to strong distractions. Your dog may not be ready for this level of training yet, so take a step back and first work on the lower level of distractions, until you get a fluent response.

When we went to pick up our puppy Zero we had no idea he was deaf. It wasn't until the car ride home we started to realize he wasn't really responding to noises we were making to get his attention. Within the first couple hours it became very clear he could not hear a thing and a few days later he was confirmed 100% deaf by our veterinarian.
At first we were extremely overwhelmed. How do we train, communicate, love on a deaf pup? We had so many questions. I joined a couple of deaf dog groups that immediately calmed my nerves. We've only had Zero for two weeks now but our experience has not been much different from raising our hearing pup. He's been responding well to some sign training we've started and has really been acclimating to our home and routine.
We've taken this as an opportunity to learn more about deafness, ASL and teach our young children about disabilities and deafness in both animals and humans.
I'm sure we will continue to encounter more questions and differences as he gets older. But I know with how open the deaf dog community has been so far we will never be alone. We feel very lucky to have him. ❞
Zero The Bullterrier
Instagram: @zero.the.bullterrier


Important considerations:

  • Make sure the collar works properly by trying it on yourself.
  • Make sure the batteries of the remote control are in place.
  • If your dog is afraid of vibrations, using a vibrating collar may not be appropriate for him. You will have to make sure to quickly teach the dog that the vibrating collar is associated with good things or use lower settings.
  • Some vibrating collars also have a sound function that comes in handy if you ever need to find your dog.

Do you have experience with deafness in Bull Terriers? Feel free to comment your experience down below.

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