When you own a dog the last thing you probably think about is them going deaf or losing their hearing. But, just like with people this can happen. Deafness is most common in dogs that are older but it can happen to younger dogs as well. It is important to learn some of the signs that your dog is going deaf and what you can do about the situation. Then you can be sure you are doing everything you can to help your dog deal with their hearing loss in the best way possible.
One of the biggest signs of deafness or hearing loss in your dog that you will notice is that they are suddenly disobedient. They may stop coming when they are called or "refuse" to follow verbal commands that they would normally respond to.
This may not be a behavior issue, but a hearing issue. Dogs who cannot hear you cannot listen to you. So,if you have hand signals you use to communicate with your dog try using those when they are already paying attention to you. If they follow the hand signals like usual, you can bet that the lack of obedience to verbal commands is not a behavior problem.
Lots of Barking and Easy Startling
If your dog has always been relatively calm and relaxed but now seems to be on edge all the time, a hearing problem may be to blame. Dogs that cannot hear well may start barking a lot more than they once did or may become easily startled.
For example, if your dog starts barking at nothing or they get scared if you walk up to them from behind, they likely cannot hear what is going on around them (or their own "voice"). This can be very disorienting for your dog and can result in many behavior changes. Don't be surprised if your dog becomes more vocal or simply barks louder if they have hearing loss. They cannot hear themselves.
And if your dog is more jumpy, you can try to approach them from the front if possible and simply comfort them when they have been startled. You can try gently touching them when you come up behind them as well so they know you are there.
What You Can Do
Aside from the methods to help your dog when they are more jumpy, there are also other steps you can take when your dog is losing their hearing. The first step is to go to the veterinarian's office. They will examine your dog's ears and test their hearing. Your dog could simply have a severe inner ear infection that is affecting their ability to hear.
If the hearing loss is from a cause other than an infection, the veterinarian will treat the condition accordingly. If there is no condition causing your dog's hearing loss other than age, you could look into hearing aids for dogs (yes, those are a thing). However, hearing aids can be quite expensive and may not be effective.
Oftentimes, it is better to simply work with your veterinarian to help your dog adjust to their hearing loss in such cases. Steps like approaching them from the front or a gentle touch on the back when you come up from behind, as previously mentioned, can work wonders. Using visual cues for your dog for commands can also help.
Now that you know some of the signs your dog is going deaf and what you can do about it, you can get your dog to the veterinarian's office as soon as possible if you notice signs of hearing loss in your dog.