Your puppy was born with fully developed senses of touch, smell and taste, but his hearing and eyesight weren't operating yet. Little Beau depended on his nose and the warmth of his mother to guide him during his first couple of weeks. Ultimately, his hearing will be superior to yours.
Deaf at Birth
Newborn puppies rely on their mothers for survival during their first couple of weeks because they're still developing. After they've made it to the outside world, it will be a couple of weeks before their hearing and eyesight become useful. Beau's sense of hearing is actually the last of his senses to fully develop.
Puppies mature quite rapidly after their first two weeks. While their sight and hearing develop, their sense of smell is useful for navigation. Beau will have some rudimentary hearing around 2 or 3 weeks of age, responding to loud noises, but his ears won't have caught up with his sniffer. It will be closer to age 5 or 6 weeks before his hearing is developed enough for him to understand his name. Dog trainer Cesar Millan recommends using positive reinforcement starting between the ages of 5 and 7 weeks of age when Beau responds to his name.
Beau should have fully developed hearing by about 2 months of age. When his hearing has matured, he'll hear things you can't. Dogs can hear in the frequency range of approximately 67 Hz to 45,000 Hz, compared with humans' range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. They can hear across greater distances -- about four times the distance you can hear.
If you think Beau is ignoring you when you call his name, consider that he may not actually hear you. Despite the fact that dogs as a species have superior hearing, individual dogs can have poor hearing or deafness. If Beau doesn't respond to spoken commands, sleeps excessively, shakes his head or paws at his ears, or responds only to touch or visual command, do a little testing. At home, if he simply doesn't respond at all to a call -- not even with a twitch of the ear -- it's time to have him checked out. The vet can perform an otoscopy to look for infections or ear disease, as well as perform a noninvasive hearing test. Occasionally an MRI or radiography is performed to look at the middle ear. Treating hearing problems can involve medication and surgery, and deaf dogs can learn hand signals for communication.
- Cesar's Way: Puppy Development Stage 2
- Dogster: A Guide to Testing Your Puppy's Hearing
- Dog Breed Info Center: Understanding a Dog's Senses
- Maryland SPCA: Developmental Stages of Puppy Behavior
- Cesar's Way: Puppy Development Stage 3
- ASPCA: Deafness
- Georgia State University: Sensitivity of Human Ear
- Hypertextbook.com: Frequency Range of Human Hearing
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images