Deaf puppy learns art of sign language

Cocker Spaniel puppy SkyeCocker Spaniel puppy Skye
Cocker Spaniel puppy Skye
Sign language is being used to train a cocker spaniel puppy after it was discovered she was deaf.

The puppy named, Skye, now sixteen weeks old, had been earmarked as a hearing dog for national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, but at eight weeks old, her trainers realised something was very wrong. Skye wasn’t responding normally to sounds like all the other pups in training and tests showed that unusually for a dog she was deaf.

Sadly she can no longer be an assistance dog but her trainers have begun teaching her obedience commands using sign language.

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Nicci Cross, from Selby, hearing dog trainer, said: “Skye can’t hear people coming up behind her, so she is likely to become startled or frightened if someone unexpectedly tries to stroke or cuddle her. Therefore, it is important that we build up her confidence.

“Using sign language is just another way of talking to your dog but in a visual way.”

Although Skye can no longer train to be a hearing dog, she will be an assessment dog when she grows up and will be available to meet prospective new hearing dog users and help them to learn all about handling dogs.

Skye’s trainer has now adopted her, giving her a home together with her other dog Bruno, a springer spaniel.

“Skye has quickly settled into a routine with me and Bruno, and she has definitely made herself at home,” Nicci said.

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