Deaf Great Dane learns sign language
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Hurley, a Great Dane/Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix, is looking for a new home. The deaf puppy is learning sign language and the RSPCA is hoping to place him with a family that will continue to nurture his growth.
Hurley was born deaf. This is a common problem with pure white Great Danes as they lack pigment in the middle ear that aids in hearing. Unfortunately, his family was unsuccessful in training him and took the puppy to the RSPCA NSW Yagoona shelter at only two months old. Luckily, trainer Shannon Calabria knew just how to help the pup, Daily Telegraph reports.
RSPCA dog trainer Calabria knows sign language and decided to train Hurley on basic commands using the language, and it worked. Hurley began obeying basic commands including “sit,” “drop” and “walk.”
RSPCA trainer Adam Farrugia also had a hand in training Hurley and said the pup has been learning sign language since February. There is still work to be done in training him, but the trainers said they can help any interested family in learning how to successfully behaviour-train a deaf dog.
The RSPCA sees about a dozen deaf dogs each year. Farrugia told Mail Online when teaching a deaf dog sign language, each dog is taught a similar sign, but the complexity of that sign differs based on the dog’s intelligence level. For example, the “sit” command for one dog may be an open hand moving downward vertically, while for another dog it may be a closed fist moving downward vertically.
Hurley is ready to be placed with a family and his trainers suggest he be adopted by a family of experienced dog trainers. He behaves best when he is the only dog and requires fencing that is at least 2m tall.
Hurley is also easily excitable and he is a large dog (and will continue to grow), so Farrugia also suggests he be adopted by a family with children 15 years of age or older.
Those interested in adopting Hurley may contact the RSPCA NSW directly.