Anyone else have a deaf mini?

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May 26, 2005
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I just realized about 2 weeks ago that Sky can't hear and am looking for any advice on working with him. He has obviously hid it very well since I have had him for 2 months now and just figured it out. I'm sure he wouldn't be so headshy and nervous sometimes if he could hear my voice but that will never be possible. Any ideas? He was shuffled around a few times before I got him and don't think he was treated very well. His deafness may not have been noticed then either causing him to be mistreated.
I don't have a deaf mini, but I've know alot of people with deaf dogs. You need to make sure that you come up to him from the front or from the side where he can see you. Also like I stated in my last post to your gelding question, leave his halter on all the time so it's easier to catch him. Ask your vet if she has any info on deaf minis, also tyr to learn some signs that you could teach him. Like waving your hand gently towards yourself to let him know you want him to come to you. Also try asking a place that gives dog obedience classes if they have any suggestions. I hope this was kind of helpful.

He is very alert and it's almost impossible to sneak up on him unless he is asleep. That is why I have just now figured his deafness out. Thanks for your suggestions.
You can have the vet check to make sure he is deaf. I wouldn't leave a halter on him unless you are with him. If he got caught on something, that would be worse than never being able to catch him. Can you put him in a small pen to make it easy to catch him? He will come around. It just takes time and lots of patience.

Liz V.
I'm sure he's had to compensate for his deafness by being very sensitive to movement and by feeling vibrations off the ground.

Training him would be similar to training either a deaf dog or a hunting dog. Hand signals. There are several basic hand signals for dogs and a few could be incorporated into training your guy.

You do need to sit down and establish some very distinctive signals that aren't similar from eachother. What commands are most important for him to learn at this time? For me, the first two would be "Come" and " Whoa". Both of those commands would be the same as a dog's "come" and "stay" signal.

Another important command is "Quit!" . I would think that a quick stomp on the ground would get that point across.

For praise......lots of rubbing and scritching, of course. But also (if you trust him to do this) put your head and throat somewhere against him and sing praises or a song. He will pick up the vibration and enjoy it. I've had deaf people I know that tell me they appreciate music because of the different vibration it gives off from other types of sound they pick up.

Hope this makes sense.

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All the above + HAND SIGNALS!!! I taught a dog 15 Signs that she would obey as if they were spoken- she wasn't deaf, I was proving a point!! Also, use your feet. As you are approaching him, stamp on the ground, he will be more sensitive to vibrations. Don't try to catch him at all, have a handful of something really nice, stamp, and, as he turns and can see you, put it either on the ground or in his feed dish and go away. You will do this a few times and find as you stamp he will be coming for the treat. THAT is when you introduce the halter, and another treat. Put the halter on, give the treat, take the halter off and go away. Do this a few times and you will have a horse that can pretty much put it's own halter on
PLEASE do NOT leave a halter on him. I would rather have to spend time training, and still have a horse to train, than leave a halter on and have a dead horse- there is no such thing as a stall or a paddock that has nothing in they can catch the halter on. Whatever CAN happen WILL happen!!!
Like Jane, I have trained many dogs with both voice and hand. I have trained 4 deaf dogs with hand signals. Course I use my voice also as I think the vibrations carry. Figure out a signal for each thing you need.

QUIT...a hard stomp forward

walk up....use your hand in a come forward motion

whoa...a cutting motion or a flat hand facing him

Your body language speaks to him also. If you are tight he will be. If you're loose he will respond in kind. Have you tried playing with him? My deaf dogs were the easiest to teach and the quickest to learn. No distractions. Use lots of love and treats. I buy the 88cent toys at walmart for my kids to play with. Got the colt to where if I toss this dog head with a ball at the other end rope thingy he'll race to get it then prance around like it is a huge treasure whapping himself in the head. It lets him know I'm happy with what he has done for me. Standing quietly, not biting, letting me pick up feet. I reward with his toy. Then we play.

Best of luck. I hope you'll keep him in your home so he can settle. A secure home will make him so happy. Then you'll be happy too. Best of luck.
All of my bird dogs have always been trained to respond to hand signals. Driving a horse would require it to learn a set of signals via a touch with a whip and reins.
Ojai Minis said:
You can have the vet check to make sure he is deaf. I wouldn't leave a halter on him unless you are with him. If he got caught on something, that would be worse than never being able to catch him. Can you put him in a small pen to make it easy to catch him? He will come around. It just takes time and lots of patience.
Liz V.



I do agree with rabbitsfizz but, our minis, for 12 years (before I had a real say about things in our barn) Always had their halters on. Nothing happened. Now I like to take them off, because I don't like the gray hairs around the face (age) but they were & are safe IMO with halters on 24/7.. If need be..

BUT, if you feel your stalls or fences are unsafe, than instead of taking his halter off, fix the fences... I feel that halter should Not be left on 24/7, & I use them as sparingly as possible... But they were made to help, they have a propose.. Please use a halter...

There are quick- release/ breakaway halter, that if a horse does get caught, it can break free.

I remember my one friend's mini/pony got lose with out a halter... that was too scary for me! Horse lose on road.. Scared of the cars & people.. no way to catch him... it could have killed the horse... I believe halters are necessary, not all the time, but a lot

MO Desiree

That’s just what I feel/think... don't be mad
Do not leave a halter on a horse, EVER. I have had one break it's neck on a fence that was perfectly safe. There was one on this Forum not long ago, too. If you have got away with it for twelve years congratulations, that is ALL it is, getting away with it. When you stop getting away with it a horse will pay for your mistake with it's life.
Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions.

I will never leave a halter on Sky if I am not hooked to it with a lead rope! That is not an option for me.
we have apaint mare that is deaf, when we talk to her we put our head on her neck, it calms her right down. when we call her in from pasture we jump up and down and wave our arms. All the crazy stuff we do for our horses!!

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