Genius Handler Uses Sign Language To Train His Deaf Pup To Be A Service Dog

Written by: Regina Lizik

September 9, 2015

This is Pinkman, a deaf Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix.

pinkman 1

Pinkman’s dad, Hayden, is also deaf and has a mobility impairment due to an accident that resulted in doctors having to remove one of the tendons in his ankle, as well as a nerve. Hayden is currently training Pinkman, Pinkie for short, to be his service dog.

You wouldn’t think that a deaf pup would make an ideal service dog, but it’s almost as if that has deepened the bond between Pinkie and her dad, making her the perfect assistant.

hayden and pinkman

What’s more, Hayden is using sign language to teach Pinkie how to help him with his mobility issues.

Hayden uses the clicker training method, but instead of the clicker, which Pinkie is unable to hear, he does a thumbs up sign when the pup performs the desired behavior. You can see more examples of this on Pinkman’s Tumblr.

hayden and pinkman 2

Currently, Pinkie is learning how to activate automatic doors, retrieve her dad’s cane, and how to get help if her human falls down.


Like a lot of service dogs, Pinkman also does agility. In the videos below, you can see Hayden using sign language before and after Pinkie performs.

Training a deaf dog with sign language isn’t unheard of. Deaf Dogs Rock is a great resource for leaning how to do this type of training. They even made up this handy dandy chart.

sign language for dogs

Many deaf dogs receive their Canine Good Citizen award and go one to become therapy dogs. But, what makes Pinkie so remarkable is that a deaf dog rarely becomes a service dog.

Hayden and Pinkman’s bond truly speaks to the incredible connection between humans and canines and how our pups are always willing to step up and help us when we need them the most.

You can follow their journey on Pinkman’s blog.

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Written by: Regina Lizik

September 9, 2015

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