Thursday, 23 September 2021
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Dog Gone Problems: My deaf rescue dog follows me everywhere and barks when left alone

Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at

Dog Gone Problems,

I just adopted an 8-year-old dog named Noodle. She had a rough life before coming to me. She was taken away from a neglecting and abusing owner and placed in a high-kill shelter in North Carolina before meeting a wonderful foster family, where she spent six months.

She chases me everywhere, wants to be picked up and barks when I leave. She is deaf as well, so your hissing sound to disagree won’t work. She has the kindest personality, and I feel sorry for her and try to make her life as stress-free and happy as possible.

Could you please recommend the best approach to make her follow me less and possibly to stop barking when I leave? Thank you so much!

So wonderful of you to rescue a deaf dog. Many people are unwilling to take on the challenge of adopting a dog with a deficiency like deafness.

While it’s normal to feel sorry for a dog who had a tough go at life prior to meeting you, be careful…as it can become debilitating. The first three days a dog is in a new home, he or she is often in shock (sometimes more intense and some dogs not at all). As the dog figures out he or she is in a safe place, he or she starts to relax and shows more personality. Usually you don‚Äôt see a dog‚Äôs real personality until he or she has been in a new home for two to three weeks. So you may discover other behavior issues as Noodle becomes more confident around you.

I mention this because what you describe sounds like the leggings of separation anxiety. This is when the dog feels insecure when left alone. Some dogs lose control of their bowels, some get destructive and some, like yours, bark. I like to describe separation anxiety in dogs as being similar to a human having a panic attack.

I have found great success by teaching dogs with separation anxiety to stay so that you can help them practice being alone. This video will show you how to train your dog to stay.

Even though yours is deaf, dogs usually learn through gestures first, so training a dog who can’t hear isn’t that much more challenging than a dog who can. The difference is you will mark the new commands by hand signals instead of verbal cues. Make sure to use big bold movements. Many people use small, subtle signals that are hard to see at a distance or too elaborate.

Once your dog knows how to stay, you can start asking her to stay for progressively longer and longer periods of time as you get a drink of water, grab something from the next room, use the bathroom, etc. This will help your dog practice being alone and also build up her confidence as she masters this new skill.

Another suggestion is to start asking her to sit, lay down or offer some other behavior before petting her. If you get into a habit of doing this, each time you pet your dog, you do a little training and boost her self esteem while reinforcing a healthy leader/follower dynamic.

My last tip is to start teaching your dog new tricks and commands. Set a goal of one new trick or command a week to start. Make them easy at first to get both of you into a routine. You will find that as your dog accumulates new skills, it will boost her confidence, which will help in many areas of her life.

Good luck and remember ‚ÄĒ everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.


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