As your dog gets older it is possible he may develop blindness or deafness. You may not be immediately aware of this and can confuse the dog’s lack of response to your commands with bad behavior. Loss of sight or hearing will make an older dog anxious because it will affect his routine. His anxiety will increase when you leave him alone in the house because, just like humans, loss of our senses is frightening. If you notice that your dog is not responsive, don’t chastise him; look for the cause.
It isn’t difficult to test an older dog’s ability to hear and there are some easy ways to identify the problem. Monitor your dog’s behavior in his natural environment. If he is not responsive to sounds that he normally would be such as birds, vehicles passing by, children playing, other animal noises or he is sleeping through excessive noise, there is a reasonable possibility that he is losing his hearing. If he does not bark when a stranger comes up the drive or in situations when he usually would, this is another sign that points to hearing loss. If an older dog is becoming deaf he will utilize his other senses to get by such as his sense of smell, sight and vibration. This might make it more difficult for you to establish whether or not he has a problem with his hearing.
Try to find an opportunity to creep up behind your dog whilst he is awake making sure he is facing away from you. Stay a fair distance away from him because he may be aware of the movement of air or sense a vibration. You can then do any or all of the following; call the dog’s name, yell the dog’s name, jangle some keys, clap your hands, ring a bell or get someone to ring your doorbell. If your dog doesn’t hear any of these things, move a little closer to the dog and try again, but not so close that he can rely on his other senses to detect your movement. If your pet dog does respond at a certain pitch, try lowering the pitch and calling again. That will help you pinpoint how much it can hear but you need to give the pet some time in between to settle down while trying the different pitch levels.
If you suspect that your dog is deaf the certain way to establish this is for your vet to perform a BAER test but his lack of response to the above sounds is a clear indication of deafness.
It is not the end of the world if your dog is deaf. You just have to modify his normal routine. The dog should kept on a leash when outside because he won’t be able to hear anything that might cause him danger, particularly traffic noise. However, apart from some obvious safety measures there is no reason why you deaf dog cannot continue to lead a normal and healthy life.