Signing with animals

Human interest in communication with animals (and perhaps also true for vice versa) has been around for a long time. E.g. parrots, Koko the Gorilla, and Washdoe the Chimpanzee.

Communication is not just limited to the hearing domain but also the visual domain of languages. A pet can understand words in signed language as much as spoken language.

Humans and animals use different articulators of their bodies to communicate. Hearing humans use ears, vocal chord, etc. Deaf humans use hands, faces, etc. Animals use various parts of what they can communicate with.

Signing with deaf dogs

Dog owners commonly talk with their dogs. Canadian psychologist Stanley Coren explains that the canines "can understand 160-200 words, signs and signals, and produce about a quarter of those gestures themselves." (Edmonton Journal, June 21, 2002).

Congenital deafness is not uncommon among pure-bred dogs, such as Dalmatians, Collies, and some Terriers. Eventually from birth, deaf dogs rely on eyes, nose and vibration to "hear".

Naturally, deaf dogs use visual cues that they respond to, just the same way as hearing dogs react to sounds. The visual cues that deaf dogs react to can be vibration, moving shadow, light, flashlight, and other peripheral movements.

You can train your deaf dog to pay attention to you when you call them. There are some different ways and possibilities to get your dog's attention:

Related posts

Signing with animals and pets.

New to sign language? "Where do I start?" or "How do I start learning sign language?" This ASL Rookie guide lists some selected links to the tutorials for ASL beginners to get started and keep rolling. It may be a useful review for intermediate-level learners and ASL students as well.

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Expressing needs and wants

  1. Making commands or requests

Talking about activities

  1. Frequency of time: how often?

Are you able to carry everyday conversations in ASL? Are you a student in the intermediate levels and beyond, who wishes to boost up your signing skills? You've come to the selected tutorial series. (Some premium content are available to PatronPlus membership.)

Stories, poems, performance arts, etc. in sign language.

This documentation project follows a child's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, from newborn to age five in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.