11 Check Your Dog for Hearing Loss
It is a common misconception on the part of dog owners to equate a decrease in the animal's attentiveness or not practicing what they learned in obedience training as a sign of improper behavior or insolence. Typically, these things occur with older canines and have nothing to do with their behavior or intelligence whatsoever. Where older dogs are concerned, these usually indicate a gradual loss of their hearing. It follows then that if your dog appears to be ignoring you or is slow to respond that you should not be punitive of their behavior.
Reductions in the dog's ability to hear are normally based on one of two aspects:
* noise and sounds
* range of volume
Remember that it isn't just a matter of hearing loss, but that the older a dog gets, the slower their brain processes the input, hence the lag in reaction time. This combination of hearing loss and lack of reacting is very common in older canines and will oftentimes result in the owner feeling that their dog is being inattentive. Avoid making those "knee-jerk" reactions and being harsh with your dog, otherwise they will become afraid of you.
There is a simple test that you can perform if you feel that hearing loss may be causing that slow reaction time. First of all, seclude your dog in a private room making sure that there are no types of distractions - i.e. lights, sounds, and vibrations. Next, make sure that your dog is resting, but not asleep. Position yourself 5 to 6 feet behind the animal so they cannot see you and then clap your hands loudly.
Pay attention to both the dog's ears and their head when clapping the hands as any dog that is not having any hearing problems should react to the noise. Observe if the ears perk up immediately following the sound or if they actually turn around to notice you. A hearing impairment is normally evident if the animal is slow to respond, but if there is no response at all, repeat the test by standing a foot or two closer to your dog. If there is still no noticeable reaction, then you should definitely call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for a hearing test for the animal.
An additional suggestion is that you repeat this test two or three times, decreasing the volume of the sound each time. This will give you an idea as to their actual hearing range of the animal and help you determine if your dog has a normal hearing level or not. Keep in mind that following a loud noise with a soft noise will make it even more difficult for the animal to hear you if they are suffering from any hearing loss at all. Therefore, you don't want to conduct these "clapping" tests with rapidity. Take a little bit of time in between the tests.
As the dog gets progressively older, consider conducting this hearing test with greater frequency because it enables you to track your dog's hearing ability. You might even consider constructing a chart where you can make notes so that you have this with you when you make an appointment with your veterinarian. Be aware that these tests are by no means an absolute determination of a hearing loss condition.
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