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Hello! For those of you who don't know, I am Hayden and I have a deaf Border Collie/Aussie mix (Pinkman) who does agility, obedience, therapy work and service task work, and a new deafblind Aussie puppy (currently unnamed) who is a therapy dog prospect. Those of you who DO know that have asked me a ton of really cool questions about us and our training processes, so I decided to make a megathread for videos, questions, and updates.

Training a deaf dog:
For all of my dogs I do positive reinforcement training. The only difference with Pinkie is that the cues are visual. I use one-handed versions of standard ASL signs with her because ASL is my primary language, but your cues can really be anything you want.

Because she can't hear a clicker, we use a "thumbs up" signal as our click. I actually like this WAY better than a clicker because you always have it with you and immediately available if you want to mark a spontaneous good behavior, and you can't lose it! I will never use an actual clicker again, even with my hearing dogs. :)

Here are some of Pinkman's tricks! We try to learn a new trick every week or so. I have to get them all recorded and uploaded! If you want to know how I trained a specific trick please ask! :)

Shake

Go on a vacation!

This article has some of her agility and basic obedience at the bottom, as well as more about Pinkie!

Deafblind Dog Training:
So obviously this is a little harder and we've just started. My biggest obstacle so far has been marking spontaneous desired behavior. I need to get a "clicker" and "no" command for her and my thumbs up and ASL "NO" won't work. I am leaning towards two taps on the head = "good girl!" and one snout tap means "no."
We did learn how to sit yesterday and walk on a leash today. For sit, I tapped her little booty once and when she sat she got turkey. She is incredibly food motivated and maybe the smartest dog I've ever worked with, so this took like 3 or 4 five-minute sessions to nail. Walking on a leash was harder because she has to trust I won't run her into scary stuff. We started off in the same place, I'd pet her, take a big step, tug the leash, and pet her when she made it back to my feet. Gradually moved to stepping in different directions each time, then increased the distance until we were able to walk up and down the beach together. She is going to have a KILLER heel in a few months! :D I will get some video later this week!
Oh! We have also been doing a TON of desensitization work, but she is so chill. Nothing scares her. I brought her out in my coat to feed the horses and she didn't even blink when she smelled them or they licked her. Hope that stays!

Obviously all my little nuggets are works in progress, but I love training dogs and I love the challenge of adapting to their unique needs. If you all are interested, I can post some stuff about working with the various other dogs in my life, including my pitty mix and the herd at my mom's sanctuary.
 

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That is actually ridiculously amazing. I have taught my dog using hand signals mostly (by default - she just learns faster that way) but I cant even imagine how hard it would be to train a dog that is both deaf and blind! Good on you for taking her in!

Also its so good that she is super chill about everything, I would have thought it would be very easy for a deafblind dog to be very nervous.

Will you be doing scentwork with her? Also do you think its going to be hard to differentiate commands, considering touch is probably the only way to communicate with her? (Or are there others that I havent thought of yet?)

I am very interested in keeping up with your progress, and it sounds like she will be a quick learner!
 

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I am SO excited to follow this thread. With my upcoming plans to be a dog trainer, it will be awesome to see the training techniques that work/don't work for her.

Of course she's a genius, she's an Aussie! :) I'm happy to hear she's so chill, hopefully she will continue to be super trusting and you guys will have a killer bond.

Was one of her parents cryptic?
 
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Thanks for being so willing to share and answer questions! This is going to be a neat thread
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That is actually ridiculously amazing. I have taught my dog using hand signals mostly (by default - she just learns faster that way) but I cant even imagine how hard it would be to train a dog that is both deaf and blind! Good on you for taking her in!

Also its so good that she is super chill about everything, I would have thought it would be very easy for a deafblind dog to be very nervous.

Will you be doing scentwork with her? Also do you think its going to be hard to differentiate commands, considering touch is probably the only way to communicate with her? (Or are there others that I havent thought of yet?)

I am very interested in keeping up with your progress, and it sounds like she will be a quick learner!
Most dogs adapt to hand signals really well! I like using them with my hearing dogs as it gives them something to focus on visually while we are working.

We will be differentiating commands by using different motions on different parts of the body. I think she will be able to figure it out.

So far touch is the only way I can think of to communicate with her. We could use smell or taste but I don't know how that would work.


I am SO excited to follow this thread. With my upcoming plans to be a dog trainer, it will be awesome to see the training techniques that work/don't work for her.

Of course she's a genius, she's an Aussie! :) I'm happy to hear she's so chill, hopefully she will continue to be super trusting and you guys will have a killer bond.

Was one of her parents cryptic?
She is so smart! I hope she continues to be trusting, too. So far she has had no reason to ever be scared of anything so I am going to make sure she doesn't find one.

In Aussies it's called "hidden" I believe but yes. Her breeder was devastated, but I get a super cool, very fancy, VERY expensive puppy for free! :D And the double merles are my favorite coat pattern.

Thanks for being so willing to share and answer questions! This is going to be a neat thread
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No problem! :) Thanks so much!
 
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