If you are a hunter and share your life with a hunting dog, you know that they get exposed to quite a bit of hunting-related noise. This includes guns, whistles, etc., and potentially ATV vehicles. While it’s logical to think that hunting dogs should wear hearing protection – there are things to consider. What are the pros and cons of hunting dogs hearing protection options?
Before We Start, Let’s Learn How To Tell If Your Hunting Dog Suffers From Hearing Loss
You will likely be the first person to notice your dog’s hearing issues. This is through behavioral observation. Once you notice this, take your dog into their veterinarian for testing. Your vet will likely offer two options:
Akin to the type of testing humans receive, this is where sounds and tones are played through headphones and watched for visual reactions.
This method uses a small speaker and microphone that is placed external to a dog’s ear canal. This process stimulates your dog’s inner ear hairs (cochlea).
Pros and Cons of Hunting Dogs Hearing Protection Options
Physical Location Training
In a nutshell, this is keeping your dog behind the shooter’s guns. This positioning helps place the dog behind the bang of the gun, however, does require intense training, particularly for bird dogs who are apt to creep ahead of hunters.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This approach is really about improving the hunter’s aim. The goal is to minimize the amount of noise a hunting dog will be exposed to due to a hunter’s excellent shooting skills. One excellent shot is better for your dog’s hearing than taking five shots to successfully get a bird.
While you may go hunting with a lot of people, and dogs too, it’s best to take solo shots. This will help preserve your dog’s hearing and minimize exposing your dog to numerous gunshot blasts. This approach is best when the primary hunter has excellent accuracy.
Hearing Protection Devices
There are two types of products that hunters can use to protect their dog’s ears. These include over the head/ear and in-ear, like CrittEar, protection.
Over The Head/Ear Dog Hearing Protection
This type of ear protection is akin to earmuffs or a snug head wrap. The earmuff approach uses elastic or velco straps to tighten two cupped coverings that fit over your dog’s head with a goal of encasing your dog’s ears. The straps wrap around your dog’s head and under the dog’s lower jaw. A quick internet search shows this type of dog hearing protection is problematic: difficult to secure, challenging to maintain positioning, and can come undone and block vision. All of these are problematic for a hunting dog. However, many unfavorable reviews challenge the effectiveness of their noise reduction capabilities.
In-Ear Dog Hearing Protection
Historically, the only in-ear hearing protection for dogs has been the DIY approach based on human earplugs. However, these don’t work due to the design of a dog’s ear. CrittEar products have a patented design to custom-fit your dog’s unique L-shaped ear canal. Our dog hearing protection (also known as ‘dog earplugs’) is perfect for hunting dogs! They block out harmful noise amplification while allowing your dog to successfully receive your hunting signals.
Do not attempt to use or make a DIY in-ear hearing protection. Dog’s ears are designed differently and this can cause serious issues with a DIY dog earplug approach.