Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my dog is deaf?

-No response to voice cues

-Sleeps through loud noises

-No ear movement in response to noise the dog can’t see

How do we test shelter dogs for deafness?
-Rattle keys behind our backs and watch for ear movement in response to the sound
-Drop a metal bowl on a hard floor. The dogs in surrounding kennels will startle and jump when the bowl clatters. A deaf dog will not startle in response to the sound
-Whistle. Watch for ear movement
-Any response to hand signals, indicating that the dog may have had prior training?
-Eye contact. Deaf dogs are very observant of facial expressions and make great eye contact.

Hearing tests at the shelter are best performed with two people. Please note that lack of ear movement might also be a very shut down hearing dog. There is no guarantee that a dog thought to be deaf in a shelter environment will actually be deaf.
What makes deaf dogs so special?
We live with three wonderful deaf dogs of different breeds, and the occasional tiny deaf foster pup. They are very alert to light, gusts of wind, vibration, and our moods. They are very “tuned in” to us, and live to please us. They are protective, and use their other senses to be very attentive companions. Although our dogs adore treats, they work for smiles, love and ear skriches.

We don’t use vibration collars here. Our dogs are always on leash when they are not in a safely fenced area.

Do deaf dogs really startle?
Some can, depending on what they’ve been through in their lives. This is easily trainable. We wake our deaf dogs gently. If there is a new dog or puppy in our house, we wake them by stroking their side or flank until they wake up happy to see us.

There is always a worry about children startling deaf dogs and getting bitten. Any dog can be startled by a child, hearing or deaf. Dogs are sometimes uncomfortable with the jerky and fast movements that a child makes. The key is to properly supervise your children, and teach them how to respectfully interact with dogs. Never leave children and dogs unsupervised.

Does my deaf dog need a hearing dog?
No, your deaf dog will do just fine as a single dog in your home/family. While it’s always nice for any dog to have the company of another canine friend, it’s not necessary.

Is it hard to train a deaf dog?
No, in fact, it’s very easy! Most hearing dogs are easily distracted by noises, and are more difficult to train. We teach eye contact so that your dog learns to read facial expressions. The training of a deaf dog is non-verbal, with hand signals and facial expressions.

We should probably add that all of the dogs in our home know hand signals, hearing and deaf. Our hearing dogs are also trained to basic obedience hand signals.

And yes…..we do talk to our deaf dogs!

Our hand signals are a mixture of basic obedience hand signals and ASL with a few home-made signals thrown in. We leave the emotionality in the training, as the dogs are very astute at reading body language.

I need to find a rescue because we can’t keep our deaf dog. Can you help?

Our rescue focuses primarily on dogs that are in kill shelters with no safe place to go. We will occasionally accept an owner surrender if the dog is in danger of being surrendered to a kill shelter, or in an unsafe situation.

We very rarely accept dogs from no-kill shelters, fosters or other rescues. We try to help as many deaf dogs as possible in our local shelters, while also helping in other states where there are few resources available. We rescue nationally.

There are organizations that will assist you in networking your dog:
Deaf Dogs Rock
Spirit of Deaf Dogs

We're sorry, but we are unable to accept requests to network dogs. Caring for and placing our own rescue dogs requires a large time commitment. We are unable to help you find a forever home for your dog.

I’m interested in adopting a deaf dog? What is your adoption process like?
If you see a dog amongst our Available Dogs listings that you would like to adopt, please hit the link to fill out an adoption application. When you hit the submit button, it will arrive in our inbox. Please give us 48 hours to review your application and reply to you. 

We do our very best to match our dogs with their new families well, so that we have a forever match. We’ll invite you up to the Ranch to meet the dog that you are interested in. The next step is your home visit. The purpose of the home visit is to make sure environment and fencing is safe, and to get to know you better, to help us match the needs of the dog that you’ve chosen. Once approved, we will move ahead with the adoption, and help you integrate your new family member into your home smoothly.

Our adoptions include two private in-home training sessions at no charge for adopters in our local area. Food, treats, a toy, a matching collar and leash set and medical records are provided with each adoption.

Our dogs are spayed/neutered, current on vaccinations, de-wormed, and some have been obedience trained.

If for any reason you cannot keep your dog, we ALWAYS take our dogs back. We are a life-long safety net for our rescue dogs.

Do you offer training classes for deaf dogs?
Yes! We sure do!

Group classes are held on Saturdays at the Ranch, open to both hearing and deaf dogs.  We currently have both beginning and intermediate classes.

Discounted pricing is available for deaf dogs and to our adopters. Please contact us for more information:

I need to find a trainer that will work with a deaf dog
If you live in Southern California, please call  or email Mark Tipton CPDT-KA of AngelDogs Training. Mark provides all of the training for our rescue dogs, and our adopters.


If you are outside our training area, your best bet is to check the APDT database to find a positive reinforcement trainer. Call around and ask if they have experience training a deaf dog, or will accept a deaf dog as a client.

I need help with my deaf dog…….can you help?
We’re always willing to help by giving you friendly advice, with the goal of keeping your dog in your home. Because we live with deaf dogs, and have worked with so many in the last few years we may be able to help point you in the right direction, or have handy suggestions. Please feel free to email us with your questions.