Did you know that just like humans, as our pets age, they too can become hearing impaired? In a recent article in the Hearing Journal they spoke to Christie Long, an associate veterinarian at VCA Animal Hospital in Fort Collins, CO about testing and training hearing-impaired pups.
When a dog needs to have their hearing tested, they undergo the same examination that is given to newborn babies, a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) hearing test. Electrodes are placed on their heads, and the software is programmed to play a noise and record the electric impulse back from each ear. Dogs that have lost their ability to hear will have no response, it is as simple as that. In terms of training Long says dogs with hearing impairments pick up training quickly. Sound signals like “sit” or “stay” will not work, but hand signals can be used for the same commands. “One of the most commonly used tools is a vibrating collar where the owner has a remote control and pushes a button, which sends a small vibration, not an electric shock, to the dog so it looks up at the owner.” Dogs with acquired deafness should have no problem picking up the new form of commands, supposing they were trained earlier in life. “The relationship is in place where the dog is interested in learning and appreciates the positive reward that goes along with it,” Dr. Long said.
Hearing loss…just another connection between man and his best friend.