E-Collar Training for Deaf Dogs

You're probably wondering if it's okay to use an e-collar on a deaf dog. Read on to find out!

Written by Sarah Connor - Pet Nutrition Expert. Updated on 27/07/2023.

At What Age Should E-Collar Training Start?

If you're parenting a dog with little to no hearing, you're probably wondering if it's okay to use an e-collar on a deaf dog. The answer is yes; e-collar-positive training with e-collars like the Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar with an 800m remote training range is an effective, safe, and humane way via beep and vibrate mode.

The takeaway with e-collar training is that these training collars should be used on adolescent pups and only on younger dogs once they get the hang of basic obedience training and understand what you're asking them to do. In this blog, we're going to show you how to train a deaf dog, how to test for deafness, and how to use an e-collar on a deaf dog after hand signal training.

Written by Sarah Connor, an experienced canine trainer and nutritionist for over a decade. Her positive reinforcement methods and passion for pups make her a go-to for dog owners.

How to Train a Deaf Dog

VCA Animal Hospital says that teaching and training a deaf dog takes a bit more planning and thought than training a hearing dog. Hearing dogs hear the sounds of our words; although they don't always understand them, they learn specific commands by hearing them repeatedly.

"Deaf dogs must be taught specific visual signals that we want them to associate with specific actions rather than verbal signals. It is worth noting that dogs who compete in advanced obedience, as well as many working and hunting dogs, do all their work in response to hand signals and body posture," explains VCA.

American Sign Language for Deaf Dogs

VCA advises learning how to use a few hand signals to teach your deaf puppy or adult dog and to be consistent when using these. They also recommend working with a professional trainer to teach the hand signals used in obedience work.

"Some people use American Sign Language (ASL) signs; others may modify these signs for one-handed use so that it is possible to hold the dog’s leash with the other hand," says VCA.

On the other hand, VCA explains that you can also make up the signs they often use in obedience training using the ASL dictionary and that everyone in the family needs to know how to use them to communicate with the deaf dog.

How to Communicate with a Deaf Dog

No shock training collars with beep and vibrate modes are always best unless you have an emergency recall and your dog is in danger and need to use a stronger training mode. One of the reasons we like the Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar for positive training is that you can use no-shock training to 100% avoid anything that could go wrong.

But first, your dog must be trained to respond to hand signals via positive training before using an e-collar. That said, the watch-me cue for deaf dogs is something you'll need to learn.

This is one of the first signs your deaf dog should learn from you. When playing at the dog park, he should learn to constantly check in with you by looking in your direction and making eye contact.

Teach Your Deaf Dog the Watch-Me Cue

Teaching and Training a Deaf Dog with Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar

BarkBeyond E3 E-collar - Dog Training Collar
BarkBeyond E3 E-collar - Dog Training Collar
BarkBeyond E3 E-collar - Dog Training Collar
BarkBeyond E3 E-collar - Dog Training Collar

The Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar with remote can be a game-changer, featuring adjustable sensitivity levels and a clear communication line with deaf dogs. We like this collar for deaf dogs because you can opt to only use the beep and vibrate modes without the use of shock mode.

For successful, positive training when working with deaf puppies and adult dogs with the Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar, you must first teach your dog basic obedience training with hand signals in a controlled environment with few distractions.

The Bark Beyond E3 Smart Ai Remote training collar offers the following features:

  • Ease of use
  • Latest Smart AI technology
  • Adjustable collars for all dog breed sizes
  • Optimal safety with adjustable sensitivity levels
  • The sole use of beep and vibrate with no shock
  • Long-range remote training within an 800m range
  • Lightweight and stylish design
  • Long battery life

Deafness in Dogs

If your pup has lost hearing due to infection, trauma, or cochlea degeneration, you may be thinking of e-collar training. Dogs are sometimes born deaf, or deafness results from toxic or viral damage to the developing unborn puppy.

When done correctly under professional guidance and after your dog learns and responds to hand signals, e-collar training can be practical. You will need to train your dog to respond to your commands first and only use the vibrate mode on the lowest setting together with the long-range remote to get your dog back to you in case he runs off.

This type of vibration is not very strong and can help you communicate with your deaf dog and possibly save his life in an emergency situation if he gets distracted while off-leash. With conditioning and positive training, you can train a deaf dog. In this way, he can enjoy the outdoors off-leash without you having to worry about recall.

Is My Dog Deaf?

While deafness sometimes goes hand in hand with old age or comes about from recurring ear infections, disease, inflammation, or noise exposure, some dogs are congenitally deaf, meaning they were born with little to no hearing.

Some dogs may have impaired hearing or total hearing loss, and pet parents need to remember this when adopting or caring for pets in noisy environments.

2020 Hearing Loss in Dogs Study

A 2020 study published in Science Daily about hearing loss in dogs says, "Most commonly, noise-induced hearing loss results from damage to the hair cells in the cochlea that vibrate in response to sound waves."However, extreme noise may also damage the eardrum and the small bones within the inner ear, called the ossicles."

Signs of Deafness in Dogs

If your dog doesn't respond when called or is harder to wake up, you should have him tested for deafness. The study adds that it's easy to miss these signs when dogs stop responding to signals or sounds, especially in young puppies.

Only after you've removed a puppy from the litter will you notice deafness in pups with congenital deafness. Signs of deafness include the following:

  • Failing to respond when called
  • Sleeping through sounds that would typically awaken them
  • Startling at loud noises
  • Making unusual vocal sounds

Although training a deaf dog may be more challenging, positive hand signals, praise, and rewards with high-value treats allow for effective communication and ensure a strong bond.

Detecting Deafness in Dogs

It's key to detecting deafness in your dog because deaf dogs are vulnerable to dangers like cars and predators. Researchers from the study explain that if your dog is deaf, there are many ways to help both of you adapt.

Eye Contact, Facial Expressions & Hand Signals for Deaf Dogs

"Owners can use eye contact, facial expressions, and hand signals to communicate with their pets," she said. Treats, toy rewards, and affection will interest dogs in their training. Blinking lights can be used to signal a pet to come inside."

Breeds Susceptible to Deafness

Deafness is hereditary in around 30 breeds, including Bull Terriers, Dalmatians, Old English Sheepdogs, Catahoula, Australian Shepherds, Collies, English Settlers, Great Danes, and Shetland Sheepdogs. Other breeds include the following:

  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Maltese
  • German Shepherd
  • Miniature / Toy Poodle

BAER Test for Deaf Dogs

If you're keen to test your pup to rule out hearing issues, there is a test called the Brainstem. Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test. This test measures the electrical activity as the brain receives the auditory stimulus.

"We often perform this test on young puppies in breeds predisposed to congenital deafness or on breeding animals prior to their participation in a breeding program. However, we can also perform this test on any animal to determine if it can hear," explains UF Small Animal Hospital. To be tested, puppies and kittens must be at least six weeks of age.

BAER testing cannot test how much sound a dog can hear, but only whether an animal can hear in one or both ears. BAER testing also cannot tell you the cause of deafness.

Training Deaf Dogs With E-Collars

Deaf dogs should be trained by teaching them to respond to hand signals instead of verbal cues. When combined with e-collar training and positive training, e-collar training works well—your ability with the e-collar must be combined with positive training.

It has to go beyond just e-collar use so you do not suppress your dog. Ideally, you want your deaf dog to be as free as possible when working via vibrate e-collar. Ensure that you use the e-collar properly. All dog training tools must be used correctly, including the e-collar for deaf dogs.

How to Train a Deaf Puppy?

VetInfo explains that deaf dog training aids can help train your deaf puppy or adult dog. Yet the key is training differently. They add that you can train a deaf dog easily with positive reinforcement, treats, and praise. Most importantly, Vet Info says hand-training signals are the best way to train a deaf puppy. This is because deaf dogs can't hear verbal commands.

"One of the most complex parts of training your deaf dog will be learning to capture and keep his attention. To a lesser extent, this is an issue with training hearing dogs as well; the only difference is that you don't have to catch a hearing dog's eye to get his attention, says Vet Info.

Vibrating E-Collar for Deaf Dogs

VetInfo recommends using a vibrating e-collar, an invaluable deaf dog training aid. This is because sometimes it may be impossible to get your deaf dog's attention, especially if your dog is not standing right before you.

"A vibrating collar is not a shock collar. It does not deliver a shock or hurt your dog in any way. It simply vibrates, the way a cell phone or pager does, to get your dog's attention and let him know that you are calling him, " explains VetInfo.

E-Collar Use for Focus Dog Training

Most people need to learn how to use dog training tools correctly. Understand that these are not panacea- they are tools in your training kit. You need to know which dog to use it on, how to use it, and when to switch devices. Always watch your dog's demeanor and teach how to remove the stimulation.

Understand that the vibration signal on an e-collar like the Bark Beyond E3 is a communication tool between you and your deaf dog. That said, every dog is unique and different, and training needs to be specific. Keep in mind that an e-collar must never be used for punishment or correction but only to get your deaf dog's attention.

How to Use an E-Collar to Train a Deaf Dog?

When used together with e-collar training, positive training encourages dogs to repeat desired behaviors and helps to enhance communication between you and your dog.

The vibration is a non-verbal cue to get your dog's attention indoors and outdoors. With the Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar and 800m range remote, the delivered stimulus is gentle and helps your dog focus. You should always reward and praise your dog for creating positive associations when using the e-collar. Here are a few positive training e-collar tips:

  • Use consistent cues
  • Immediately reward your dog for the correct response
  • Train your deaf dog first with hand signals before using an e-collar
  • Always use the lowest levels of stimulation, even if it's forever.
  • Gradually introduce the e-collar and work with a short training session
  • Watch YouTube videos on how to use an e-collar correctly
  • Training needs to be consistent and not stop when your dog reaches a certain age
  • Your number one priority is your dog's welfare and safety.
  • Work with a positive trainer before using an e-collar if you can.

Redditors Comments

One Redditor says, "There are different vibration levels. You might look into that to find a level that isn't too scary for him. I have seen it work well for deaf dogs!"

"The key is training your dog to seek eye contact! Eye contact and body language are extra important with deaf dogs."

"My best guess for how to do it would be tap vibrate, a handful of treats, repeat. Then, start to add distance, and repeat. Of course, if she absolutely hates it, then find a different solution. But I think if you start it with always meaning lots of treats, you should be fine."

Redditor's Comments on Training a Deaf Dog for Recall With an E-Collar

"Have the e-collar on for an hour or two before you start e-collar training. Then, you have to start from zero, using STIM, not vibrate, and start to turn the level up very slowly. The vibrate option can be more aversive to dogs, but people still choose to recall the vibrate option. You have to watch out for any signs. This can be an ear flick, or the dog closes its mouth while panting, or quickly turns around; the signs are very subtle."

"I was having some problems with noticing if he feels it. You want to start off inside, with no distractions. Whichever level they feel it at, most likely under 10, tap and reward, using high value. This will mean stim=high value treat, and where is the treat coming from? You. Slowly, if you keep conditioning this, your dog will start to associate stim = come to the owner for a value treat."

Redditors' Comments on Vibration Collar Training for Deaf Dogs

Another Redditor explains that they would use tactile and visual clues when training a deaf dog. The same user says, "I've actually seen scent used for recall for deaf dogs, but I honestly wouldn't let a deaf dog off leash outside of fenced areas. It's not safe, even with the ability to communicate to recall. They can't hear traffic or potential dangers."

Another Redditor added, "However if the vibration is low enough, I don’t see a problem with using it as the recall rather than the correction, as it is typically used. I suggest to start that you use it with a long lead, one buzz, and then reel him in and treat. Similar to how you would train it for hearing dogs."

"Just adding my agreement with the other posts that it's less aversive for the dog to use a low-level e-collar stim (like a 6 on a 100-level scale) than it is to use the vibration mode. Most e-collar vibration modes are quite startling. Remember to properly condition the dog to the e-collar stimulation so they understand what it means and how to get it to turn off with their compliance."

Positive Training for Deaf Dogs

The most accepted form of training today is positive training, which is based on positive reinforcement. Rewards can range from high-value treats, praise, and toys to plenty of verbal encouragement. Today, plenty of positive trainers use a combination of positive training and minor corrections, while some will only use positive training.

Positive reinforcement training means asking your dog to do something and then rewarding him when he complies. A dog who is trained positively and with mild corrections learns what he needs to do, resulting in a happy dog that is well-behaved and easy to live with. Dogs trained in this way enjoy learning and are keen to respond to training.

Working with a private trainer or attending dog obedience training classes. This is also a good idea if you have a deaf dog, and you both get to benefit from working in a setting with a professional trainer. Your dog will learn commands as part of a group and get individual attention if he has problems with a particular command. For this reason, it's best to work in smaller classes and to find a trainer who specializes in working with deaf dogs.

Following up on training at home is also key to your dog remembering the basic cues. Keep in mind that it's only after your dog understands training principles that you should turn to e-collar positive training.

Deaf Puppy Training

Most of the training that you do with your puppy will be done at home. That said, the best way of socializing your new puppy is by attending Kindergarten puppy training classes and exposing your new puppy to other dogs, people, new environments, and lots of mental stimulation.

If your puppy is deaf, you should work with a trainer to teach you the necessary hand signals for deaf puppy training. Consistency is key in training, and just because your puppy is deaf does not mean that you should have an unruly one.

Obedience training benefits all dogs and allows you to travel with your pup, participate in dog sports, go hiking, and enjoy life together. Deaf dogs can enjoy a normal everyday life and, after learning basic obedience, can benefit from e-collar use for recall. Training a deaf dog is not difficult because dogs learn and communicate by observing and body language.

FAQ's E-Collar Training for Deaf Dogs

Q: How do you train a deaf dog with a vibrating collar?

A: First, your deaf dog must be trained to respond to hand signals via positive training before using an e-collar via vibrate mode. Always use the lowest levels of stimulation, even if it's forever.

Use best-selling e-collars with long-range remotes like the Bark Beyond E3 E-collar. Gradually introduce the e-collar and work with short training sessions, preferably with a positive trainer, until you get the hang of things.

Q: How do you give a deaf dog commands?

A: The Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar for deaf dogs, with its low stimulation mode options via beep and vibrate, allows for gentle and safe positive training. Training a deaf dog with hand signals first is key to your dog understanding and responding to your cues effectively.

Always use positive reinforcement like treats and praise when your dog successfully follows a hand signal. Keep in mind that e-collars should never be used as a form of punishment but rather to get your dog to focus on you.E

-collars for deaf adolescent pups and adult dogs help with behavior modification in dogs and are effective and safe when used correctly and humanely.

Q: Do dog trainers recommend vibrating collars?

A: Dog trainers recommend using vibrating dog collars correctly and safely. The takeaway with dog e-collars is that dogs need basic obedience training first. If you misuse the e-collar on your dog as a form of punishment, it will not work.

Your dog will become scared and withdrawn as soon as he sees the collar. E-collars like the Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar have been rated #1 in 2023. This brand is renowned for its waterproof design, adjustable levels of vibration and shock, multiple training modes, and an impressive 800m range remote control.

High-quality e-collars for deaf adolescent puppies and adult dogs can help alert deaf dogs to potential dangers and foster clear communication between pet parents and deaf dogs.

Introduction to the e-collar | Session one