May 15, 2016
Pit Bull Learns Sign Language -- Deaf Dog Taught Hand Gestures To Communicate With Prospective Owner

A Pit Bull is learning sign language to communicate with her prospective owner. The dog is deaf but is increasingly adept at understanding hand gestures used for communication.

A playful Pit Bull named "Cha Cha" has been learning the sign language used by deaf and mute people for communication. However, the dog isn't gaining understanding about the language to be with a differently abled person. The Pit Bull herself is a special needs dog. She has started to learn sign language to help facilitate her search for a forever home.

Cha Cha is a playful and docile Pit Bull. Although she is just 2-years-old, the dog has already suffered an accident that left one of her legs badly damaged. Although enthusiastic and upbeat, the dog has a distinctive limp that doesn't deter her boisterous attitude, assure the trainers who are working with Cha Cha. However, it is not the limp but the permanent deafness that poses a great hurdle in the Pit Bull's adoption.

It is a common assumption that deaf dogs can't be trained, laments the adoption center. The majority of the trainers rely on sounds, words, and tone of the voice to teach a dog. Since Cha Cha is tone deaf, she is completely incapable of listening to a trainer to pick up the finer points of being a guard or guidance dog. Owing to her deafness, traditional training methods would never work, and that meant the Pit Bull wouldn't find a loving home.

Her limp, from a broken leg that never properly healed, and her deafness have been the reason the poor dog was returned to the shelter after being adopted once. Although her temporary family attempted to love the dog, the Pit Bull wasn't able to understand the new additions to the family: kittens. Being unable to get along due to improper training, the dog was returned to the shelter a year after being adopted. The loving dog is currently housed and trained at Chako Pit Bull Rescue and Advocacy group in Sacramento, California.

Realizing Cha Cha's limitations, the trainers there adopted a completely different technique to train the deaf dog. Since Cha Cha was unable to listen and follow instructions, the trainers began teaching the Pit Bull basic commands in sign language. Although extremely difficult at first, the Pit Bull has started to respond well to the sign language and its associated hand gestures. She has been understanding and responding to various commands. Every command requires the dog's handler to nudge the dog to attract her attention. Thereafter, a common hand gesture in the sign language is enough to convey the instructions, shared the organization.

"Deaf dogs are very trainable, even if this seems contrary to popular belief. You have to use different techniques, but it is done all the time."

As seen in the video posted to Chako's Facebook page, Cha Cha can successfully stay, sit, lie down, and come, reported Bark Post.

Her current handlers pointed out some very specific advantages some owners might have by adopting a tone deaf Pit Bull. Being deaf, Cha Cha is completely oblivious to loud and sharp noises such as fireworks or honking cars. Such noises can easily distract or scare a dog. Many dogs can get agitated due to such sounds, but Cha Cha stays quite calm through the din. Additionally, since she can't hear other dogs barking, she doesn't respond and stays quiet. Although the Pit Bull doesn't quite get along with cats, she loves dogs, reported I Heart Dogs.

There have been a few instances where dog lovers have adopted deaf dogs that have learned the sign language. Working with a deaf dog may be a little difficult or awkward at first, but once the dog bonds with the owner, communication is very easy, stressed the rescue and adoption center.

[Image via Chako Pit Bull Rescue and Advocacy]