Deaf Dogs Learn Sign Language

Deaf Dogs Learn Sign Language

June 7, 2012

By Kristin Kane

(FOX News) – A canine training facility in Texas is using sign language
to train handicapped dogs.

You would think dog trainer David Ketterer is just teaching Mica basic
commands like sit, stay and come, but if you look a little closer, he’s
actually teaching the 1-year old Catahoula sign language.

Mica is deaf and his original owner got rid of him when he wasn’t being

“Normally the dog becomes problematic before they even try to find a
solution,” said David.

But David is helping find that solution at his new training facility,
Circle K9 in Magnolia.

“It’s just like we talk about society, people with a handicap don’t
want to be viewed as having a handicap, they want to be treated like
normal folks, same with dogs,” said David. “The challenging part in
teaching a deaf dog is establishing a way of talking with the dog.”

David says it’s not a language he’s invented; it’s a language he’s
taken from the canine sporting world and applied to the pet world.

“With the AKC competition stuff you see dogs jumping. If you have your
jumps here and you have your dog into a sit, and I cast my dog over
that way, it’s the same principles,” said David.

He admits it’s harder to train a deaf dog though because his mechanism
for positive reinforcement is not there.

So he constantly has to reward Mica with treats rather than saying
“good boy” and giving him the occasional treat.

And when he’s a bad boy…

“When I correct him, notice that I have a pinch collar on him, and the
pinch collar really is a very subtle way of getting his attention,”
said David.

With David’s help over just a two-week period, Mica has now mastered
sign language and good behavior. All he needs now is a loving home with
strong leadership and patience.


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