Dog Hearing

Howling in response to a loud noise or a particular musical sound, such as strident trumpet or violin, may indicate that the noise is actually painful to a dog’s sensitive hearing.

Sound sensitivity:
Remember that dogs can hear much better than us. Their ears are more acute and more discerning than ours. Sound sensitivity of this degree may often coincide with a fear of fireworks and thunder.

Dogs can hear sounds on a much higher register than we can appreciate – in the ultrasonic range – so very high – pitched sounds can actually inflict pain. Dogs will often show fear and resentment, even anger, at household appliances which make a painful sound for them. Breeds with pricked – up, wide open acutely in homes where the television and music are played at a very high volume. Dogs can hear things long before we humans can, such as their owner’s car approaching from some distance away.

Fear of thunder is acute if an owner is also nervous of the noise; being brave and not reacting to storms will help your dog. Because his first instinct is to run away from an overpowering sound, you should provide a refuge when you know a storm is on the way or neighbors are going to let off fireworks. A covered crate will insulate the dog from the noise, as will access to a bedroom perhaps where he can dive under the bed. Try not to act with any urgency or fear; always stay calm, and then your dog will imitate your mood.

Some puppies are born deaf, either in one or both ears – white coated dogs are more likely to be affected by this inherited fault, and even partially deaf dogs should not be bred from. Susceptible breeds, including Dalmatians, Border Collies, white Bull Terriers and white Boxers, should be tested as puppies before they are sold at eight weeks old.

The old – fashioned way of testing by dropping a tin dish behind a puppy is too inaccurate to be of any use – the puppy may see the movement or feel the air vibration as the testing objects falls. The definitive computerized test, called the brain-stem Auditory Response Test, is quite painless and can be used on puppies from five weeks of age onwards. Your veterinary surgeon can refer you to a specialist in testing for hearing capacity.

Living with a dog who is a deaf:
You can communicate with a deaf dog through hand signals and body language. He will soon get used to reading your face and interpreting what you want him to do. Even stone-deaf puppies can be trained, by the patient use of human facial expressions, hand gestures, body language and rewards, to be happy and safe companions.

Elderly dogs:
In their old age, dogs may lost some of their hearing capacity just as humans do, or chronic ear disease may have the same effect, but these dogs will usually know everything they need about their owners and their way of life, so partial deafness is not a tragedy for them. You will have to be patient if they take time to respond.