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When Dogs Go Deaf Do They Think Everyone Stopped Talking to Them?

Grant Piper

By Grant Piper

young girl talking to her black dog

Deafness is a fairly common condition in dogs. Some dogs are born deaf due to congenital or genetic conditions. Other dogs go deaf over time as they age. Senior deafness is a very common condition in older dogs. Whether dogs are born deaf or go deaf, many people wonder what it is like for their dogs without hearing.

The good news is that dogs do very well without their hearing. You might think it would be awful to lose all of your hearing and would wonder what people are saying and miss out on vital communication. But dogs are not like that. Dogs don’t wonder if people have stopped talking to them when they go deaf. In fact, they don’t think about it much at all.

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What Do Dogs Think When They Go Deaf?

It is easy for people to wonder what dogs are thinking when they lose their hearing. Do they suddenly think that everyone has stopped talking to them? Do they feel like everyone is ignoring them all of a sudden? The answer is no. Dogs don’t think much of anything when they go deaf. That can be hard for people to comprehend. Losing a major sense must be traumatic, right? Well, not quite.

Even if a dog loses its hearing, they won’t think that you have just stopped talking to them. This is due to two main reasons. First, dogs communicate using many visual cues rather than audio cues. Dogs will still interpret many of your movements and body language as communication even if they can’t hear you anymore. Second, dogs do not have multiple-step thinking. They don’t have great memories for details. That means that the very thought, “Did everyone stop talking to me?” is too advanced an idea for dogs to comprehend in the first place. Their brains cannot conjure up such a complex thought. It requires multiple levels of thinking to ask and answer that question.

Dogs take hearing loss surprisingly well. That is because dogs’ other senses are so good. They use body language to do a large portion of their communication, they have a phenomenal sense of smell, and they are highly adaptable. That makes dogs able to get over deafness much better than most people expect them to.

guy baby talking a labrador
Image Credit: SG SHOT, Shutterstock

Dogs Adapt Very Well to Deafness

Dogs adapt surprisingly well to deafness. In fact, most of the time, you wouldn’t be able to tell if a dog was deaf. At least, not at first. One of the only ways to tell if a dog is deaf is if you scare them frequently. For example, if you go to pet them and they startle. Otherwise, pet dogs tend to go about their lives much the same way they did before they were deaf.

Dogs Still Understand People, Even When Deaf

One of the reasons that dogs do so well when deaf is that they can still communicate. People struggle when deaf because the vast majority of human communication is done via sound. People like to talk to one another. They need to talk to one another in many cases. Hearing human voices is soothing, and it is constant. Dogs are not like that. They do not communicate in an audible way. At least, not often. Most canine communication is done through body language, which is done via the eyes, not the ears.

Dogs apply this type of visual communication to people as well. Dogs can tell what you want more by how you are standing or acting rather than what you are saying. Dogs rarely take your verbal cues at face value. They usually take verbal cues in conjunction with your body language. You can still communicate very effectively with your dog using hand gestures and body language alone. Dogs don’t need you to say anything in most cases for you to communicate with them effectively.

Some Deaf Dogs Can Be Easier to Train

According to some professional dog trainers, deaf dogs can actually be easier to train than dogs with their hearing. Deaf dogs drown out the noise, literally. They can focus easier than dogs with hearing. Dogs can learn a variety of hand signals that are just as effective training tools as verbal cues. Deaf dogs have auditory blinders that can help them focus. Not all deaf dogs are easier to train, but there is evidence to suggest that losing your hearing can help certain dogs focus. It is hard to get distracted by noises if you can’t hear anything.

rhodesian-ridgeback-training
Image Credit: Ivan4es, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Dogs absolutely do not think that everyone has just stopped talking to them if they go deaf. Dogs do very well with hearing loss. Surprisingly well. Dogs communicate differently than people. They also do not have the mental capacity to think up such a complex thought as “Did everyone suddenly stop talking to me?” So don’t worry. Your dog will still get plenty of communication cues from you and other dogs, even if they are deaf.


Featured Image Credit: Vikulin, Shutterstock

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