Humphrey, a four-year-old Boston Terrier, is a deaf dog. He’s also has stomach problems.


The arrival of puppy French Bulldog Pearl, now 14 weeks, has affected him badly. They also moved house a fortnight ago so everything is new and Humphrey likes routine. He seems depressed and he regularly shakes.

The two have had some interactions and, earlier on, Humphrey “had her head in his mouth”. Understandably they scolded him.

This is a natural thing to do but can only make things worse. Having Pearl near him is bad enough – but even worse if in his efforts to keep her away, she triggers a negative reaction from his humans.

From now on they will be teaching deaf dog Humphrey that Pearl is good news.


First they must use management so that the two dogs can be together without Pearl free to jump on him or get too close. He should then be able to relax a bit.

They will achieve this by having a house lead on Pearl or putting her in a puppy pen. When not carefully watched, she can be in the pen with her toys. Humphrey can then wander freely.

The two dogs are either together or apart. There is no half-way where they can be in the same room with Humphrey feeling safe unless one, or both, is carried.

So now that Humphrey is ‘safe’ from unwanted attention from Pearl, they can go one step better and get him to relax and to like her.

Changing puppy Pearl into ‘good news’ for Humphrey

As the couple sat together and chatted to me, the man held the deaf dog and the lady held a wriggling and bitey Pearl.

I watched as each time Humphrey looked at Pearl beside them on the lady, he licked his lips and yawned and then turned his back on her. The man fussed him.

Now they can turn the situation around. Stop petting Humphrey quite so much to encourage a bit of independence whilst watching for any look at or engagement with Pearl (on the lady).

A marker for a deaf dog

The man will have food in his pocket. He now needs a marker in order to capture any look from Humphrey at Pearl, or even an awareness of her as she moves.

As he’s a deaf dog they can’t use a word as a marker. I suggest a very light tap with one finger on his head should first be paired with getting a tiny treat.

Now, when Humphrey looks at Pearl, he gets an immediate light tap followed by food. With Pearl in the pen, they can encourage him to watch her from beside the pen, feeding, or tapping and feeding, as he does so.

Fortunately Pearl is a very easy and placid puppy. If they take it slowly I’m sure she with give deaf dog Humphrey some of the confidence he’s lacking. They should end up the best of friends.

One week later: Humphrey is no longer shaking or exhibiting anxiety behaviours to communicate with us which is great. He is looking at her (Pearl) more and even napping when she’s with us.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help