Friday, July 4, 2014


Living with a Blind Dog: Helpful Tips

Please click the link above to read the article.

The article is also posted below for your convenience (with due acknowledgement to the authors/pet education)


are several conditions that can lead to blindness in dogs. Injury, illness,
birth defects or age can all cause or contribute to canine blindness. Blindness
in dogs may have occurred from birth or been acquired later on. In the latter
case, your dog will need to adapt to his new situation.

the cause of the blindness is limited to the eyes and the health of the rest of
the dog is good, then blind dogs can lead fairly normal lives. Their remaining
senses can help them adapt to their surroundings. Considering all of your dog's
senses; eyesight is actually number three in importance behind hearing and his
sense of smell. You will need to capitalize on those other senses, plus the
sense of touch, to help your dog move through his environment and interact with

also need to understand that your dog's blindness is much harder on you than it
is on your dog. Dogs don't really understand what is happening to them. They
live very much "in the moment." They are also very in tune with their
owner's emotional state. If you are happy or sad, they can sense it. Be sure to
treat your sightless dog the same as you did before the blindness. It will be
up to you to help your dog adapt.

take a look at a few tips that will help your blind dog adjust to his new

to your blind dog in your normal, cheery voice.

voice is very soothing for your pet. Be sure to talk to your dog (often) and
let him know when you are approaching and before you touch him. Your voice plus
walking with a "heavy" foot to make vibrations will alert your dog
that you are coming.

bells can be attached to you, other family members and the other pets in your
home. The sound, too, will alert your blind dog to your whereabouts.

dogs may become depressed and withdrawn as their blindness develops. You can
help by keeping a positive attitude with your dog. Maintain his routine; go for
walks, continue to play with a favorite toy, etc.

the other senses: toys and play

scent and sound are now your dog's main senses, place a unique scent on the
toys or use a toy that contains a bell or other noise maker. Squeaky toys also
work great. This will help him follow and locate the toy.

can and do learn the names of toys. Work on this with your dog. Unique sounds
and scents will help. Use treats to reinforce learning. The interaction between
you and your dog is very healthy.

are many toys that serve blind dogs very well. Toys that hide treats and toys
that make noise when they are played with both work well.


carpeted runner or large area rug can be a great play area for a blind dog. The
dog will learn quickly where the edge of the runner is and the traction is

a "base camp" for your dog. This can be the area where his crate, bed
and food bowl are located. If your dog becomes confused, he can return to base
camp to re-orient himself.

large plastic floor mat for your pet's food and water will help your pet
identify their location. He will learn the feel of the mat and know where he
is. This is another good place for a unique scent.

your dog uses a crate to lounge or sleep in, tie the door open or place the
crate on its side with the door tied "up." This will prevent you dog
from running into the door or inadvertently closing a partially open door.

water fountains work very well for blind dogs. The bubbling sound of the water
fountain helps the dog locate his water source.

around in the house

dog will need to "map-out" his surroundings in his mind. With a short
lead and some treats, walk your dog from room to room throughout your home.
Reinforce good behavior with the treats. Be sure to examine your home and yard
at your dog's eye level to make sure there are no hazards (furniture, low
hanging limbs) that could injure your dog. You can also use key words such as
"watch" when your dog approaches a hazard such as a slippery floor
surface or a piece of furniture. Sharp edges on furniture can be padded with
bubble-wrap or foam pipe insulation to help prevent injury.

you have a small or toy breed, avoid picking him up and carrying him around
your house. Allow him to re-discover and map-out your house. Being carried and
set down in another part of the house is very confusing to your blind dog.

a radio or television on can be re-assuring for your blind dog especially in
your absence, and help the dog orient himself.

to block your blind dog from hazards

baby-gates to block stairways and other hazards until your dog has mastered the
location and navigation of these hazards.

you have wooden or otherwise slippery stairs, place non-slip strips on the
stair treads to make them easier to use. Place a unique floor mat at the top
and bottom of stairs to help your dog identify the stair's location.

can teach your dog to use the stairs with treats placed on each stair tread.
Place yourself in front of your dog and encourage him without pulling on his
collar or harness. Let him figure it out.

scents (e.g., flavored extracts, scented oils, colognes) to "cue"
your dog to particular areas of your home: doorways, top and bottom of stairs,

squares or throw rugs can also be useful to alert your dog where doorways and
other obstacles are located.

and real plants placed around hazards like posts, corner cabinets or other
solid objects can act as "feelers" and alert your dog of the danger.

on a furniture lay-out you like and stick with it.

floors picked up.

around outside of the house

wind chime, placed by the outside door used most often by your blind dog, can
be very helpful. The unique sound will help him locate the door.

swimming pools, decorative ponds and other hazardous areas outside your home
should be fenced off to protect your dog.

help your blind dog locate trees, buildings or other large solid objects, place
a "warning track" of mulch or bark chips 1-2 feet around the object
that will alert your dog that the danger is close.

away from home

blind dog will still enjoy walking with you. A collar should be exchanged for a
harness and his lead should be short to avoid tripping.

is still an important part of your dog's mental health. Be sure to walk your
dog in areas frequented by other dogs. When meeting other dogs, remember your
dog will not be able to "read" their body language. So take things
very slowly.

a name tag for your dog

others know that your dog is blind. A bandana or vest that displays "I am
Blind" will alert others of your dog's condition. Let an approaching
person know your dog is blind. Let the dog smell them and their hands before
they pet the dog.

addition to an identification tag, get a tag for your dog's collar that says,
"I'm blind."

your dog will be visiting a groomer or spending time at the kennel or
veterinary clinic, create a sign for the cage or run door explaining his

you will be traveling to a strange place, take along some familiar items like a
favorite toy or blanket.


you have younger children, they can develop an understanding of your dog's
blindness by wearing a blind-fold and crawling through the house at the dog's
level (this should be a supervised event).

your dog new words that will help him navigate new surroundings:
"watch," "easy," "left," "right,"
"step up," "step down," "stop," etc.

you intend to bring home another dog, introduce the two dogs slowly. You can
use a baby gate in a doorway to separate the dogs while they get to know each
other. Some sighted dogs will actually help the blind dog get around.

you can see there are many ways you can help your blind dog acclimate to his
new situation. Blindness in dogs does not need to spell the end of quality
life. With patience and training, you will be able to enjoy your sightless
canine friend's company for many years to come.

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