Seven Competing in Agility

Not sure if you dog is completley deaf or has partial hearing?  Ask you veterinarian clinic about BAER testing.  More information about BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potential) testing here -

Local HRM vet clinics that offer BAER Testing - Carnegy Animal Hospital

Please see the following links for tips and help on training and living with a deaf puppy or dogs;

Deaf Dog Education Action Fund -

Dr Jennifer Messer (Modern Dog) -

Deaf Dogs Rock -

Communicating with a Deaf Dog -​

Deaf Dog Training with Flashlight -​


We share our home with a Border Collie possibly Australian Shepherd mix named "Seven" who was born deaf.  She is a fabulous dog and wonderful companion who is 10 years old now.  We often joke Seven was one of the easiest puppies we ever trained and is one of the easiest dogs we have ever shared our home with.


We used a thumbs up to communicate "good dog" to Seven when she does anything we like.  Similar to using a clicker or verbal "yes/good," start with a handful or two of dog food, show the pup a thumbs up and pass them a piece of food right after they look at it.

Within the first few days most pups will start to lick their lips or you will see their eyes light up we they see the thumbs up signal.  Once the pup understands thumbs up = food (or a reward or some kind) it can be used to communicate to the dog when they are doing behaviours we like.

Some trainers prefer to use a flashlight instead of, or along with a thumbs up to help with training or getting the dog's attention. 


The most important thing for a deaf dog to learn is to check in with or make frequent eye contact with family members so it can see our signals and stay safe.  From the day Seven arrived home we rewarded her almost every single time she made or offered eye contact, if we didn't have food we would give her a thumbs up and pat her, play with her or engage her is some fun way.  On average, she earned at least 50+ rewards a day as a youngster for making eye contact.  When new things, people or dogs appeared we would hold Seven back until she offered us eye contact, as soon as she checks in with us, then she gets permission to go say hi, meet other friendly dogs or even sniff things sometimes.


Dogs must eat every day and we suggest using the dog's regular meals for training that can be earned throughout the day, or in short training sessions a few times a day and during outings. 

Any food not earned during training can be used stuff or fill Kongs or other teat dispensing chew toys to keep puppies entertained when you cannot be actively supervising or to help prevent unwanted chewing behaviours.


Along with using food rewards we also highly encourage developing cues or signals that let the dog know when it is ok to go see, interact with or even sniff something.


We did consider vibrating collars and know a few folks who used them with success however Seven is very soft and sensitive dog so we were concerned using one would be stressful for her and after rewarding her so generously for offering eye contact it quickly became second nature for her and worked so well it was hard to justify spending so much money on a vibrating collar.

CTV News Seven earns Agility Trial Champion title -

CBC News -

The Star -