Thumbs up for deaf dog’s sign train­ing

Staffie Delilah learn­ing to understand com­mands

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

A DEAF dog, who has been in a re­hom­ing cen­tre for six years, is re­ceiv­ing spe­cial­ist sign lan­guage train­ing to help her find a new home.

Delilah, an eight-yearold white English bull ter­rier Staffy cross, suf­fers from con­gen­i­tal deaf­ness, and is be­ing taught how to sit down, watch and ‘give the paw’ among other com­mands.

Emma Tay­lor, as­sis­tant man­ager at the Harefield Dogs Trust cen­tre, said: “Un­for­tu­nately the con­di­tion isn’t un­com­mon in white dogs, and of­ten re­sults in many end­ing up in res­cue cen­tres or aban­doned when breed­ers are un­able to sell or find homes for them.

“She came to us in 2009, and the fam­ily told us they were un­able to give her the time she needed partly due to be­ing deaf.

“Delilah is clever, happy and to­tally switched on. She’s a lovely dog, but doesn’t like be­ing left in the dark.”

She is be­ing taught with the help of dog trainer and co-founder of the Deaf Dog Net­work Karen Lawe, who has five dogs of her own, three of which are deaf, and who has spent time help­ing train­ing Delilah at the Dogs Trust cen­tre.

She said: “I found Delilah to be a very friendly, ea­ger to please dog and a very quick learner.

“I worked with her on the sign for good which is a thumbs up so she knows when she is do­ing well and you mark that fur­ther with fuss and treats.

“She also knows sit, down, paw, set­tle, and watch me. All train­ing, be it with a deaf dog or not, is done with pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment meth­ods – no force.

“There are a lot of myths about deaf dogs, such as they can never walk off lead or can’t be trained, but none of them are true – they are just dogs at the end of the day.

“Deaf dogs can do as much or as lit­tle as you’ll al­low them to do. They can be trained for agility, obedience, fly­ball or demos.

“The best thing about a deaf dog is the bond you build with them. They look to you and will check in with you.

“Even­tu­ally they will be able to not only read your sign lan­guage but they can read your body lan­guage and some have learnt to lip read.

“If you’re hes­i­ta­tion in get­ting a dog is be­cause it is deaf and that is your only hes­i­ta­tion they I would say, do not let that stop you. The help is there if you need it.”

Emma Tay­lor, as­sis­tant man­ager at the Dogs Trust cen­tre, added: “We hope Delilah’s spe­cial­ist train­ing will ul­ti­mately help find a lov­ing fam­ily who understand the train­ing in­volved with a deaf dog.”

Any­one in­ter­ested can call the re­hom­ing cen­tre direct on 01895 453 930 or visit www.dogstrust.

See page 23 for more an­i­mal news.

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