For shih tzus that have hearing issues, their lives can be greatly affected. This is especially true for older shih tzus that do not have the energy or playfulness of their younger counterparts. It may seem at first that this makes adopting a hearing impaired shih tzu less desirable, but they are still beautiful animals that deserve love and affection.
The trick is knowing what to do to ensure that you can communicate with your shih tzu despite their impairment. What follows are a few steps you can take to help make your experience with them even better.
A vibration collar is a great way to get the attention of your shih tzu without causing them any harm. You can put the vibration collar on them, activate it, then give them a treat. Do it enough times that they associate the vibration with a treat, and they will stop what they are doing and most likely come to you.
Work on getting their attention through visual aids and not by talking to them. This starts with hand signals that they can associate with what you want them to do. Keep in mind that shih tzus are quite attentive and will react to your body language. So, incorporating hand signals is a natural step forward.
You will need to break down the hand signals into something they can understand. One for their name to call their attention, and several for different commands that they can understand such as sit, stay, and lay down. You can use the same techniques to teach them each command as you would if talking to them, just reinforce the hand signal part of the training.
Touching the shih tzu will get their attention as well. Touch lightly on one area of their body to get their attention. This can be used when sitting next to your shih tzu. Be sure not to surprise them as they might react in fear.
As your shih tzu loses their hearing, waking them becomes more of an issue. This is because shih tzus, like most dogs that cannot hear, may become startled and even bite in response to waking up unexpectedly.
A good way to wake them up when you need to is by stomping on the floor nearby. With you not close enough to bite, the vibration should be enough to awaken them without putting yourself in any danger. Stomping your foot can also help get their attention if they are not looking at you.
In addition, you can practice touching them on the shoulder and providing a treat. This will help in waking them if they are in a place where the vibrations are not enough.
You will need to be patient with a hearing impaired shih tzu. But it will be worth the effort to see the light and excitement in their eyes of being loved again. Just take things step by step and pretty soon both you and your shih tzu will be on the same page.