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Observations on dogs with early hearing loss


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#1 Maja

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 06:18 AM

About half a year ago I discovered that Bonnie was losing her hearing. Having straightened out some health problems of mine, I had gone back to training her, with great hope and enthusiasm thinking that this year we would really make a come back in trials.  As soon as I started actually training, I hit a brick wall and realized I had a big problem that had started actually probably 2 years ago, I realized later.  Some kind people (including  some from these boards) helped me confirm my suspicions that the problem was hearing loss.

 

Since I realized the problem I started observing Bonnie and have made some observations.  I would like to write about this in Polish, and I would be grateful if you would share your observations, so that I can quote you later.  I am talking about early hearing loss. 

 

Bonnie still can hear, but not well. But the thing that has become apparent is that this loss has also to do with the ability to process sound. Her biggest loss is in flanks: she often can hear the command but she can't seem to understand it, and her execution seems actually random.  For other commands this is also happening.

 

She also appears sometimes altogether confused about the world.  She responds very well to visual clues, and it is then that I can she the exuberant enthusiastic Bonnie of old. 

 

Bonnie never really took to the whistle, and now she hears it, but I don't think she can process it.

 

Have you noticed odd things related to early hearing loss?  (I put this question here because I would like to hear mostly from people with working dogs.)


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#2 workindogs

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 08:59 PM

I have two working dogs with early onset deafness.  They can both hear….and are quite functional as pets.  However, in work, they have trouble with whistles…..I believe that the high tones are much more difficult for them.  They are pretty good with vocals (lower tones).  They are confused and anxious when they are wrong….probably because I escalate and they hear the anger/urgency/escalation.


Elizabeth
with Ross, Soot, Craig and Hattie
Steadfast Stockdogs
Oregon, USA

#3 Maja

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 01:59 AM

Elizabeth,

 

Thank you for your input.

 

However, in work, they have trouble with whistles…..I believe that the high tones are much more difficult for them.  They are pretty good with vocals (lower tones).  They are confused and anxious when they are wrong…probably because I escalate and they hear the anger/urgency/escalation.

 

I think that high tones were a problem for Bonnie from early on, even when she was able to hear well, that's why it seems to me it is not just that they can't hear but also they can't process what they do hear.  I only managed to put Bonnie on "lie down" and "walk on" whistle but she was never 100% consistent with it. And now, she can hear the whistle, so I use it to get her attention, but she can't tell a walk on from lie down at all. 

 

This anxiety was the thing I noticed before I noticed that she had a problem with hearing (because she was so good a drawing clues from the context  and my body language I had no idea I had).  Now she is happy when I work with her with visual clues and she understands, but when she can't, the anxiety is still there no matter what I do.  The difference is quite dramatic.

 

Bonnie can do most of farm chores because she knows what is expected. Since she was less than two, I would only tell her to "get the sheep" and she will go 300-500yds and bring them all, while I fed the ducks.  It was pretty cool :).  But when something is to be done where she really needs to  carry out my commands, then things fall apart.   But I am working with her to glance at me (after all these years from early on of teaching her not to look at me), and I am trying to work out how to do the gestures. The recall gesture we have figured out - basically  going back to puppy recall with slapping my lap both hands. But the flanks are a problem, if anybody has figured out a signal  that would be clear regardelss of the sheep/human/dog configuration I would be grateful. 


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#4 GentleLake

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 07:54 AM

But the flanks are a problem, if anybody has figured out a signal  that would be clear regardelss of the sheep/human/dog configuration I would be grateful. 

 

If you can get her to look at you for direction, could you borrow some of the body language agility handlers use? Extend one arm for come bye, the other for away?


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#5 Maja

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 09:23 AM

If you can get her to look at you for direction, could you borrow some of the body language agility handlers use? Extend one arm for come bye, the other for away?

Yes, I was wondering though if this will be clear for her that facing sheep left hand come bye, right hand away, but with my back to the sheep - right hand come bye and left away.  She will react to the direction in which the arm is extended rather than associate right arm left arm? 


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#6 sjones

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 09:36 PM

I have also had dogs with early onset deafness, one that went totally deaf and one that could hear out of one ear and now at 13 can only hear if you are really close and talk into her good ear.  Both of mine really read my body language well and I also noticed that they used their nose much more to help them know where I was if I went out of sight. 

I think the arm directions would work well, but I would start them close up and make it easy for her and gradually increase the distance the more comfortable she gets with what you are doing.

BTW- my friends one dog that was deaf from birth was named Bonnie and was the most natural gathering dog.  It took my friend a few years to figure out that she was deaf because she was such a smart little dog. 

 

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#7 Maja

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 08:09 AM

BTW- my friends one dog that was deaf from birth was named Bonnie and was the most natural gathering dog.  It took my friend a few years to figure out that she was deaf because she was such a smart little dog.

:lol: :lol: :wub: :lol:  :lol: , that sound definitely like a Bonnie.


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#8 Pam Wolf

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 09:32 AM

Contact Liz P She has had one dog with EOD and has done some research into it.


Along the way it seems I have become a shepherd rather than a sheepdogger


#9 Maja

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 12:52 PM

Thank you! I will.


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#10 Stoga

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 02:33 PM

Calli (now age 8 but probably hearing impaired for at least a year) is much as described by both you and Elizabeth. She is learning to look at me far more often while working, and we've been pretty successful with body language (mostly arm/hand signals). Only problem (and it's a big one) is when she's driving away or any time when she can't see me. Plus, she has a strong eye, which means that - if she's in a situation where she's very intent on holding a particular sheep - she's totally zoned in on that and refuses to break her eye to look at me for any signals. :rolleyes:

 

For the longest time I thought our work was suffering due to problems on my part (or hers). It wasn't until the hearing loss became really obvious off stock that I realized what was going on. She used to be very noise phobic and, this past new years eve, strolled around the property at midnight completely oblivious to the fireworks and gun shots going on (while Mick was cowering under the bed).

 

Thanks for posting on this...


Donna

#11 Maja

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 06:15 AM

Thank you for sharing, Donna.


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#12 Maja

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 12:13 AM

One funny thing is being "noisy".   Bonnie often makes funny noises, so much so we had to let her sleep in the bedroom with us and her mother (not in the bed, in the room). Because she would wake up at about 4am and start making this quiet  noise in her crate. it wasn't the bathroom, because she would continue even after I let her out. Now in the bedroom she is quiet, but during the day she makes little noise to me all the time.  And she still reacts quite well in the house. 


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#13 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 07 June 2016 - 01:05 PM

The situations where I first noticed what I believe to be hearing loss in my Peg is when there is a small rise in the terrain between me and Peg such that my line of sight of her skims just above the ground. She would either stand there looking at me or hesitantly do something other than the whistle command. When I walked closer removing the rise between us she took the command enthusiastically. I saw this again this weekend where she was taking commands at 400yards on the side of a hill but down on flat ground at about 200yards she was appearetly not hearing clearly and thought I wanted her to turn and drive the sheep across the field.

Because of all I've read on hearing loss and seeing it in one of my wife's dogs I was quick to realize what was going on.
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#14 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 07 June 2016 - 01:05 PM

The situations where I first noticed what I believe to be hearing loss in my Peg is when there is a small rise in the terrain between me and Peg such that my line of sight of her skims just above the ground. She would either stand there looking at me or hesitantly do something other than the whistle command. When I walked closer removing the rise between us she took the command enthusiastically. I saw this again this weekend where she was taking commands at 400yards on the side of a hill but down on flat ground at about 200yards she was appearetly not hearing clearly and thought I wanted her to turn and drive the sheep across the field.

Because of all I've read on hearing loss and seeing it in one of my wife's dogs I was quick to realize what was going on.
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#15 Maja

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 03:41 AM

Mark,

 

Thank your for your input. 

 

Do you also have the impression that in addition to not being able to hear, the dog also has a problem of not being able to neurologically process the command?  In Bonnie this seems to be the case with the flanks where she very often takes a wrong one, so she hears the command, she hears that it is a flank, but can't hear the difference, so she takes a flank though hesitantly.  It's different from when she just stands and looks at me not hearing me at all, or hearing barely. 

 

I had the problem with whistles where she never really learn to tell them apart, and now she can hear the whistle so i just use it for recall. (she hears the sound, turns her ehad and I slap my leg to give her the recall gesture.)


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#16 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 14 June 2016 - 07:32 AM

Peg hears whistling; realizing I want her to do something (but the command may have been unclear) she chooses to do something which was not what I asked for.  Is this really not being able to neurologically process the command or does it appear that way to us.

 

Have you never assumed someone said one thing to you and because it was not clearly spoken or was obscured by background sound your assumption was not correct?  If so, was that a neurological problem?  I suspect you will find that humans that are going deaf will jump to conclusions about what is spoken to them (when they really didn't hear it clearly) based upon their past experiences.


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#17 Maja

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Posted 14 June 2016 - 12:07 PM

Yes, it very well may be as you say: she's just hearing me making a noise and guessing.  And she obviously often looks at me with that look "I hear you saying something, but I am clueless about what you said"
 
I am just wondering how it works, because it seems to me like there is no simple correlation between the decibels of the command and the dog's ability to understand the command. It seems to me that if the hearing is poor, linear increase in decibels should produce a linear improvement in execution, but - to me- it seems like this is not the case. Hence, my thought that the brain is not processing things right.

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#18 Maja

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Posted 14 June 2016 - 01:12 PM

P.S. My first thought is always that EOD is "End of Dreams"  :)


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#19 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 14 June 2016 - 02:19 PM

Except that hearing loss is not a constant loss in sensitivity to all frequencies of sound
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#20 Maja

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 03:58 AM

Absolutely.  I am not sur, I communicated myself well, I meant within one working situation, not over time.

 

E.g.  Bonnie had been trained in  Derek Scrimgeour's way to  make 'lie down' a safe place to be.  It worked brilliantly with her, making her a reliable helper before she was 12 months, because regardless of my state of mind or the situation, whenever I whispered/said/yelled "lie down" she would pancake herself on the ground come hail or high water. 

 

Now, if she gets all tangled up, confused, and I yell "lie down!" she often does not do it.  If I stomp my foot or hit the ground with a plastic bottle and she is not too far, she instantly lies down, like before on command.  But often it's "lie down, lie down! LIE DOWN!" and often nothing happens.


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23



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