Deaf dog learns sign language
BEING a border collie, Pixie is blessed with natural smarts – all the better to help the eight-week-old pup learn sign language.
So far, Liz Grewal has taught Pixie to sit, drop and come forth.
An owner of deaf dogs for six years, she’s now instructing Pixie in the all-important art of doing her doggy business outdoors.
“Dogs understand your body language, your hand gestures, they read all of that. They know,” Mrs Grewal said.
“Consistency is the key to training any dog but you have to emphasise it more with a deaf dog. You’ve to train them in a different way, they train quicker than a hearing dog as there are no noise distractions.”
Mrs Grewal gets the attention of her four deaf dogs by squirting them with a little water bottle.
She said deafness is common among canines: “I want these dogs to have a fantastic life, and I know they can do it.”
While Pixie’s breeding gives her a distinct learning advantage, new Canadian research suggests some dogs are as smart as a two-year-old human.
Professor Stanley Coren from the University of British Columbia found the average dog can understand about 165 words, signs and signals, while the cleverest dogs could grasp as many as 250 words and signals.
The research also revealed smart canines are capable of basic maths, counting up to four or five and noticing errors in simple arithmetic. Professor Coren said dogs can tell that one plus one should equal two and not one or three.
Border collies are the smartest, while the thickest breeds include basset-hounds and the bulldog.