Staff at dogs Trust ilfracombe have proved you can teach a deaf dog new tricks by training one of their long-standing charges with sign language.

Jon has been deaf since birth and at the rehoming centre near West Down for a year, but the two-year-old does not let his lack of hearing hold him back and now he just needs a home.

The sweet-natured crossbreed lives life to the max. He enjoys having a run around with his doggy playmates as well as spending time with his canine carers.

Jon is an excitable chap who initially found it hard to channel this energy and focus on the task in hand.

But his dedicated team put together a personalised training plan for him and worked with him every day for months to help him learn in the only way he could - through sign language.

By adjusting their training technique to use only hand signals, Jon is proving that you can teach a deaf dog new tricks as he has learnt to respond to hand signals for commands such as sit, down, paw and spin in exchange for a tasty treat.

He even understands when he's been a good boy as his carers give him a well-deserved 'thumbs up' signal.

Elise Watson, Rehoming Centre manager, said: "We don't know much about Jon's background but we suspect he has been deaf since birth, which can occur in some white dogs.

"Sadly, some deaf dogs are abandoned or end up in rehoming centres due to owners' lack of understanding of their hearing problems.

"Often people feel they wouldn't be able to cope with a dog like Jon but deaf dogs can have a perfectly normal life and can be trained fairly easily using hand signals and positive, reward-based techniques - you just have to be a bit more inventive when it comes to gaining their attention but it is perfectly possible to train a deaf dog to respond to numerous commands.

"Though he is working with our expert behaviour team he is still a young dog who hasn't had much in the way of training or socialisation so he can be a little over-excitable therefore is looking for a home who can offer a high level of exercise and mental stimulation, as well as teach him how to relax.

"We really hope that Jon will not be overlooked just because he is deaf. He's a real joy to train because he is so smart and really wants to learn. He has such an infectious zest for life and will make a very rewarding pet in the right home."

Jon would be ideally suited to a family who have experience of training a dog with hearing impairments or are willing to make adjustments to their training techniques.

He needs an adult only home and while he needs to be the only pet in the home, he'd benefit from regular walking buddies.

If you're interested in finding out more information about Jon, contact Dogs Trust Ilfracombe on 01271 446058.