New Asl for Dogs Starting Our Sign Language Journey

Hello, Friends! Let me just bring this short note to the forefront: this article requires a good story. So, if you are only here to get information about sign language tips for dogs, skip to the ASL for dogs section below. Otherwise, this is where the backstory begins, and I think this is the most important thing to know to start with: Cooper is not deaf.

Most-dare I say all?– according to the articles I could find on teaching dogs, ASL worked on the premise that the dog was deaf. That makes sense, doesn’t it? A deaf dog must learn hand signs, there is no doubt about that. It also makes sense to choose ASL over arbitrary obedience advice, because a deaf dog needs much more advice than a hearing dog.


Let’s go back a little bit. Last November, our daughter Astrid was born. She spent nine days in the Intensive Care Unit, and during this time her neonatal hearing screen failed. They referred us to a child audiologist who was able to see them at the end of January. At this appointment, we found that Astrid had mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears.

The truth? I was heartbroken. I was so sad that she couldn’t hear the birds singing, that she didn’t hear Violet singing, that she didn’t hear me whisper “I love you” when I locked her up at night. I was worried about what it meant for her and for her future, for all the things that were suddenly completely out of my control. Moms want to protect, and I couldn’t stop them from doing it.

They scheduled a follow-up screen in March to try to refine the sounds she could hear and she couldn’t–it’s difficult with an infant because she can’t tell us anything–and between the two appointments, I started researching everything I could. We have partnered with the health department of our state, which offers an impressive number of services for children from 0 to 3 years old with developmental problems, and have begun to welcome support services, one of which is an American sign language teacher.

Well, Astrid is not profoundly deaf. She’s going to get hearing aids, and these will help tremendously. She will receive hearing therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy when we need it, all under the state program. (She has other developmental delays that are not related to the topic of this article, but we are getting body therapy and the like at the same time. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen their Doc Band!)

But everything – the therapies, the hearing aids-suddenly stopped screaming because her ENT appointment was on March 12 and the state closed on March 15. That’s my absolute biggest fear right now because I just want her to hear it! I want her to start speech and Hearing therapy! It scares me that I won’t be able to do anything to help him.

But until all these pieces of the puzzle are aligned, let’s focus on the one thing we can all progress on together: learning sign language!

Even if the hearing aids will help Astrid to hear, we have to learn ASL as a family because, on the one hand, she will not be able to wear it all the time. They can’t get wet. So, what do you do during bath time or Pool Time in the summer? What if she loses one and we have to wait for a replacement? Or, since we don’t know the cause of your hearing loss, what if it is degenerative? So we all immediately decided that we are going to learn a new language together! Violet learns the fastest from all of us, I think! But we realized that we also had to include Cooper, and that’s where our sign language journey begins.