We remain open to provide care for your pets. We are following the direction of government and regulatory authorities and have implemented hospital and visit protocols to keep both you and our team safe. For regular updates on our hours and visit protocols, please follow our social media platforms.

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Tips for Training a Deaf Dogs

Our canine companions are wonderful creatures to have to enrich our lives. In return, we wish to do the same for them; especially if they have some unique health traits, such as deafness.

While some dogs can be born deaf, others may lose their hearing due to a medical condition (this can happen at any age). Some may lose it simply due to old age; the ability to hear sounds just isn’t quite like it used to be. Whether young or old, though, deaf dogs can live perfectly normal lives! They just need to have a specially dedicated owner to work with them.

Start Training
Positive reinforcement/reward training is absolute key when working with a deaf dog. To start training your dog, it is important to first and foremost be able to get your dog’s attention and to maintain it. You can get their attention with a wave in front of their face, thumping your fist on the floor to create a vibration or by touching them gently. Make sure to touch them in the same location on their body as to not confuse them between attention touch and affection touch.

Training Tools
There are some special training tools one can use for training sessions that aren’t the typical clickers and whistles and such that are used in typical obedience training. Collars that produce a light, gentle vibration are wonderful tools to be able to get your dog’s attention, especially when they are not within arm’s reach. Be aware that using a shock collar is not the same as a vibration collar and should not be used for these training purposes, as it does not fall into the positive reinforcement/reward training method.

Training Techniques
With a deaf dog, one of the most helpful behaviours, and one to work on first is to reinforce heavily for eye contact. Getting a deaf dog’s attention is not impossible; it just takes a bit of work! Developing a “check-in” behaviour is essential. Each and every time that your dog looks at you, you should mark and reinforce this behaviour (referring back to the positive/reward training method).

Now, since your dog cannot hear a click or a marker/praise word, teaching them a hand signal that means they did something good is quite crucial. Don’t worry; you won’t have to go out and learn sign language (unless you want to!). You can also make up your own signals as long as they are distinct and consistent (consistency is highly important for any form of training). Many trainers will use a simple thumbs up to signal a job well done. You can condition your dog to this by giving the signal and rewarding with a treat (positive reinforcement). Soon your dog will understand that thumbs up means treat!

Another vital part of communicating with a deaf dog is teaching a recall. Safety first, though! It is recommended to start with working on longer-distance recalls in fenced areas or with a long leash. However, as with any behaviour, you will want to start training in close proximity and in a low-distraction environment. Move away, at first just an inch at a time, and then signal with a visual cue for your dog to come to you. Mark movement toward you and be sure to reinforce (positive reinforcement training!) as the pup arrives where you are. As with any recall, slowly build distance and eventually work in some distractions to further advance your dog’s recall skills.

How to Prevent Startling Your Deaf Dog:
It is an important step that many owners might not think of! Non-hearing dogs are often startled or scared by things suddenly appearing, or a person is touching them since they cannot hear the approach. To reduce startling your dog, it is an important thing to work with your dog on desensitization. To desensitize your dog to touch, this means to start by always touching them in the same location. Each time you touch to offer a food reward (There’s that positive reinforcement training method again!). Initially, start by being in sight of your dog, and then once your dog is comfortable with this exercise, move to be out of your dog’s sight when you touch them.

Owning a deaf dog can be very rewarding with the proper knowledge, patience, and – you guessed it – positive reinforcement training! There are many resources available, as well as deaf dog support groups that can offer many helpful tips. With the right training, your deaf dog can do anything a dog with hearing can do. There are many deaf dogs in performance events, including obedience, agility, flyball and scent work. So don’t feel that your dog’s inability to hear will impact their lives negatively and make them feel left out.

Information sourced from Americain Kennel Club.

Written by: Brittany Waselenchuk, RAHT

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COVID-19: Additional measures we are taking

Dear Clients,

Due to the close contact that our work requires, we have taken additional measures to protect you and our team while providing care for your furry family members.

The following changes are effective as of Monday, March 23, 2020:

1. We are currently operating a “closed waiting room” policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and use your cell phone to call us at 780-432-7297. A team member will bring your pet inside and we will give you a call to go over the history. The exam will take place in our hospital and our Doctor will communicate the results of the examination via telephone.

2. We are continuing to accept appointments for urgent or sick pets, as well as time-sensitive puppy/kitten vaccinations and some routine visits. All other services will be scheduled for a later time. For availability, please give us a call.

3. We are still OPEN with the following hours: Monday to Friday: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm.

4. If you are ordering food or medications, please allow 3-5 business days as our suppliers are dealing with increased demand and are trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. We will advise you as soon as your order arrives. Please call us when you arrive to pick up your order, but do not enter the hospital. Our staff will bring your order to your car and take payment over the phone. You can also use our online store and have your food delivered directly to your home. To sign up for the online store, visit our website.

5. For the time being, we are not accepting cash as payment. Credit card payments over the phone are available.

Following the recommendations of our government and medical experts, we are doing our best to practice social distancing within the constraints of our roles. As such, we have taken measures to avoid both contracting and facilitating the spread of this virus.

Thank you for helping us be diligent for everyone's safety. As we have heard from all levels of government, the situation is fluid and any updates will be provided as changes occur.

- Your dedicated team at Mill Creek Animal Hospital