Training Tips For Blind Dogs
Dogs can become blind for a number of reasons. They can injure their eye, develop severe cataracts, glaucoma, get an infection in their eye or simply have a hereditary condition. Some dogs are born blind, others go blind as they get older. It’s quite sad to witness if your own dog loses their sight, but most dogs cope remarkably well without their sight.
Their other senses such as hearing and smell become heightened and they find ways to get around in a world without sight. Eyesight is actually their third most important sense after sound and smell. They don’t really understand what is happening like we do and tend to simply live in the moment.
If you are taking on a blind dog, or your dog is losing their sight then there are some things you can do to help them. You may have to make a few adjustments for them and take a different approach to their training.
Here are some helpful tips for training blind dogs.
- Treat your dog the same after they go blind. Dogs pick up on your emotions and will sense if you are upset and stressed about the situation. Be strong for their sake, it will help them adjust better. Where possible, try and keep their daily routine the same. Some dogs can get a little depressed when they first go blind, but they soon adjust so try and act like nothing is wrong.
- Use your voice to let your dog know you are approaching, so they aren’t startled when you come up and touch them.
- You can attach little bells to the people in your home so your dog always knows where they are. You can also put bells on other pets that live in the home.
- Get them some toys with squeakers or that make a noise. You can also add a distinctive smell to their favourite toys so they can find them easily.
- Place plants near hard objects so your dog feels them first and learns to avoid them.
- Try not to pick your dog up and carry them to where they need to be. This will not help them learn to navigate around the house and it will also confuse them as to where they are.
- Place a mat under their food and water bowls so your dog can figure out where they are using touch. Drinking fountains are also brilliant for blind dogs because they can easily find them using the sound of the water.
- Socialisation is very important, keep taking your dog out and about and let them meet other well balanced dogs regularly (as long as they aren’t aggressive themselves).
- When you go out, leave a radio on as this can be soothing for blind dogs.
- If your dog is very anxious when they start to go blind try some to help reduce their stress.
- Talk to your dog regularly, the sound of your voice is calming and it helps them know where you are.
- Baby gates can be handy because they prevent your dog going into hazardous areas of the house that they will find difficult to navigate.
- Put padding on the corners of sharp furniture to protect your dog.
- Check your home for any potential hazards that could harm your blind dog. Move any hazardous objects that they could walk into and injure themselves on.
- Walk them around your home often so that they can get used to the layout and work out where things are. Try not to change this around too much as it could confuse them. If you must move things then make sure you show them where they are.
- You will need to teach your dog some commands to help them stay safe. Have some kind of stop command so that you can stop them before they bump into things or move when it is not safe. Other useful commands to teach them include ‘step up’ and ‘step down’. You can also teach your dog to go left and right, which will be extremely useful as you can help direct them.
- Take care around other dogs. Blind dogs are not able to read a dog’s body language to figure out whether or not they are safe to approach.
- Having another dog that your blind dog gets on with live with them can really help. Some dogs will act as guides for blind dogs and help steer them and nudge them away from obstacles. It’s an amazing thing to witness. Having another dog around that they are comfortable with will help them through the process of turning blind and make them feel more at ease. It also means they won’t ever be completely on their own.
- Put a wind chime near your front door so your dog can locate it easily.
- You might want to purchase a collar or bandana that states your dog is blind. That way people you meet while out and about will be aware of their condition.
- Let your dog smell people before they stroke them.
- Clickers can work particularly well as blind dogs respond to the sound.
- If your dog enjoyed playing fetch before they went blind then use scented tennis balls and toys to enable them to continue to play their favourite game.
When out on walks use a harness with a short so you can control where your dog goes more easily and they don’t trip over the lead.