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Doggie Sign Language

July 18, 2007

Izzy was born deaf.

Izzy was born deaf.

His owner has taught him simple sign language, and says he knows about 20 signs.

His owner has taught him simple sign language, and says he knows about 20 signs.


KOTV – 7/18/2007 5:00 PM – Updated 7/18/2007 7:23 PM

Dalmatians are beautiful dogs, but have a greater than average incidence of deafness. Deafness in dogs can lead to significant emotional problems and often deaf puppies are euthanized. Then there is Izzy. The News On 6’s Rick Wells reports Izzy has grown into a wonderful companion dog by learning to respond to sign language.

“He has no idea there’s anything wrong with him, and frankly, his life is fabulous,” Izzy’s owner Nancy Werhane said.

Izzy, a brown or liver spotted Dalmatian, was born deaf. Nancy Werhane explained often deaf puppies are euthanized because they develop emotional problems and become problem dogs, but she thought she could teach Izzy to respond to simple sign language.

“He knows if I tell him Izzy come here, go kennel, excellent,” Werhane said.

She has trained and shown dogs for years, and high level obedience training is all hand signals anyway.

“He probably knows 20 signs pretty reliably,” said Werhane.

She uses a combination of dog obedience signs and American Sign Language she learned in high school.

“He knows no, he knows off, he knows cookie or food,” Werhane said.

She says when you walk through a room and he’s asleep he doesn’t hear a thing, thunderstorms are no problem and he thinks fireworks are pretty. At night when he’s outside she’s devised a special way of calling him, it’s a blinking light; he’ll come to the light.

“You have to touch your flashy light and you get a reward,” said Werhane.

It’s the same system of repetition and reward that works on hearing dogs, it’s just all signs.

“We tried to keep it simple,” Werhane said.

When he does something well he gets a thumbs up.

“I haven’t taught him any fancy tricks, I’ve just tried to teach him to be a normal dog,” said Werhane.

Izzy’s registered name is Hijinks Hear No Evil, but people kept asking “izzy” deaf? So he became Izzy.

Watch the video: Deaf Dog Learns Sign Language


  1. Lisa Marie
    July 19, 2007 at 10:32 am

    I’d want to adopt the deaf dog!

  2. J.J. Puorro
    July 19, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    I have a late deafened dog…32 signs here..

  3. My 10 -year-old daughter's note
    July 19, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    That’s one smart dog!The owner of the dog must know sign language
    well. I wish to have such a cute and smart dog like that one!

    Lisa Marie’s daughter, Emily

  4. July 20, 2007 at 3:15 am

    Emily, did you know there was a dog knowing some fingerspelled words? Maybe you want to teach your dog to respond to your fingerspelling. It’s interesting to read.


  5. grneyes
    July 20, 2007 at 11:09 am

    I have black lab female. She’s hearing but i taught her sign language more than 20 words. Didnt matter which you prefer hearing or deaf dog. They’re the same level and smart dog.

  6. My 10 -year-old daughter's note
    July 20, 2007 at 2:26 pm


    Okay, I’ll try.


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