When a dog is deaf, either from birth or as a result of degenerative hearing loss, they can require a little bit of extra care. You have probably become used to always trying to remain in your dog's field of vision so that you can communicate via hand signals. These might be derived from the equivalent word in Australian sign language (Auslan), or they might have been suggested by a trainer. You might have even come up with your own hand signals. Regardless of how you communicate with your deaf or hearing-impaired dog, there can be some concerns if you ever need to go away and leave the dog behind. So what are some options for boarding your beloved special-needs pooch?
Friend or Family Member
This is probably the most logical choice and is generally easiest for the dog. If someone can house sit and look after your dog at the same time, then this is an ideal solution. You know that your dog will remain in a safe and familiar environment, cared for by someone who knows them and has some familiarity with the additional steps that must be taken when caring for a dog that is deaf or hearing impaired. Of course, this isn't always going to be possible, and sometimes it might be necessary to use boarding kennels.
Boarding the Dog
Have a word with any prospective kennels. Have they had experience with a deaf or hearing-impaired dog in the past? If they haven't, it's not necessarily a deal breaker as long as some basic steps are followed.
- Is the exercise area for the dogs fenced and onsite? Your dog's hearing issues are unlikely to be an issue in this scenario since they cannot wander off and can still interact with other dogs using smell and sight.
- Will the dog be taken for a walk offsite? If this is the case, leave strict instructions that your dog should remain on its leash at all times, even if taken to an off-leash play area. This just provides an extra level of safety, as your dog will be in an unfamiliar area with an unfamiliar person.
- Familiarise the staff at the boarding kennels with the hand signals you use so that they can issue basic commands. You might wish to use your smartphone to take a video of the main signals your dog knows, and then send this to the kennel. This essentially gives them a glossary of commands that can be referred to as needed.
There is absolutely no reason why your deaf or hearing-impaired dog can't have a safe and enjoyable time while you're away, provided a few extra steps are taken.