Blind dog being bullied by our other dog

Our dog Benny has recently gone totally blind. Always the more subservient to the dominant Indah (female dog), she often showed aggression towards him by showing her teeth and very occasionally there was the odd fight. Although they have lived together for ten years and she’s a very intelligent dog, I somehow thought she would pick up on his weakness and try to protect him. In fact the opposite has happened and almost daily she growls at him in an intimidating manner.

As the blindness is new and being aware she is more dominant, we’ve tried not to alter our behaviors towards them too much by favoring one, but Benny simply needs more reassurance and attention at the moment. Does anyone have any tips how to get her to behave better towards him?

He is becoming wary and has lost his confidence around her, he is perpetually apprehensive and on edge. Should she be punished and if so how? Appreciate any advice anyone can give. Thank you.

7 thoughts on “Blind dog being bullied by our other dog

  1. I had the same problem with my two dogs. The dominant one was sighted and if my blind dog got anywhere near her she would growl. And if she accidentally got too close and stepped on her or ran into her then the dominant sighted dog would attack.

    I didn’t punish the sighted dog nor did I intervene. My blind dog just learned to stay away from her.

    These situations are difficult because really it doesn’t have much to do with the blindness and more to do with the interaction between the two dogs. Even when Benny wasn’t blind, you still had issues there…the blindness has just exacerbated it.

    My only advice is to search Google for ‘how to stop dogs fighting’. This is a good starter:

    1. I’ve had the same problem with my two dachshunds. Unfortunately, the dominant female dog only gives visual cues that she’s offended – hard stare. Of course, the blind dog can’t respond. If only she would growl, I think he would move away. She wears a bell, so if she’s moving, he knows where she is and can stay away.

      I’m not sure what else to try with them. We just manage the situation by watching them closely and separating them, calmly if possible, if we see the “back off” body language. Sometimes we aren’t quick enough, and she does attack. It’s loud and scary to watch, but she never actually bites, thank goodness. When we can’t watch them, we keep them separated, either gated in different rooms or in separate crates.

      If we have a scuffle, we accept that it’s our fault for not preventing it. We don’t punish the sighted dog because we believe it’s “normal” dog behavior.

  2. I have a female papillon that has gone blind. We have other papillons too all sighted. When our blind one (Angel) bumps into one of them they start fighting with her. Help we don’t know what to do about this

  3. I have the same case. I have 3 senior labs. Last year, one of my labs went blind and suddenly my dominant (sighted) dog always tries to fight with my blind dog… since then, we kept them apart and it works… Then just the other day, my other lab went blind too…. And this morning, the dominant sighted dog bit her. What is going on? Can anyone explain this behavior of my sighted dog?

  4. I am having similar problems, but reversed. So, my aunt has two fixed female dogs. One is quite older than the other and has lived with my aunt for most of her life, she is a small blind yorkie. The other has only been living with her for about two years and is more of a small-medium sighted mutt. Obviously the yorkie considers herself the more dominant one and isn’t excited about the mutt. However, the mutt is the opposite, she really wants to play and is always showing signs of that such as wagging her tail doing that little bow thing where her front is on the ground with her back legs standing up, and things like that. Sadly, these signals dont mean much to the blind yorkie. There are also time where the yorkie will be walking to go get some water or go outside to potty when the mutt will walk behind her and try to sniff her or her butt. The yorkie always notices because she can hear the footsteps of the mutt on our hardwood floor and the yorkie doesn’t take it very well. There is quite a history of these two, most of which I haven’t lived here to notice but from what I’ve seen living here for about 4 months the yorkie kind of will start something by growling and snapping and sadly the mutt tries to finish it if you know what I mean. From what I’ve been told about them before I’ve been here, when the mutt was a much smaller puppy (smaller than the yorkie) the yorkie used to “beat up” the mutt an was able to “whoop her butt”. This has changed dramatically since the puppy/mutt has become larger than the yorkie and the yorkie has become blind. I know the yorkie is trying to enforce her boundaries, but the mutt doesn’t seem to understand that the yorkie cant see and that she doesn’t want to play. They got into a fight the other night and it really flustered everyone, as it appeared to come out of nowhere. I just dont know what to do about it, seeing as one is blind.

  5. For every one here I recommend u getting the help of a canine behaviourist immediately. In my opinion it is our duty & job as dog ‘parents’ to always intervene to protect all our dogs & look out for each of their safety. After safety, it is our duty to ensure they are as happy & fulfilled & fear-free as we possibly can be.

    It sounds like in many cases there were dog-dog issues that needed addressing, and now that the situation has changed dramatically those issues are putting the blind dog, & even the seeing dog, in real danger. On top of that, of course there’s turmoil, dogs r unsettled, likely anxious. I 100% agree that we always hold 100% of the ‘guilt’ when things go wrong in these situations—none of the dogs r bad or doing wrong: we have failed to solve the issues. Please don’t use punishment & please b careful not to reinforce negative things which will exacerbate or accidentally make situation worse.
    For the blind senior yorkie & young playful mutt, everyone needs to help these dogs respect each other’s boundaries & live peacefully. Remember older dogs may have body pain and illnesses arise and is a common reason for senior dogs to defend against physical contact let alone impacts. Always check for medical causes. Yorkie needs to b protected from exhuberant bigger seeing dog so that yorkie feels it can escape to safe spot instead of defending itself—since that is impossible & younger dog may engage in ‘fight’ & things escalate. You need to teach young dog when to back off & leave yorkie alone. U need to make safe area(s) for yorkie to escape where she can relax & younger seeing dog can’t reach her. A spot like this in each room & yard would b ideal so neither dog is ever punished by having to b alone. Likewise, the yorkie needs to dial back her defensiveness slightly if thats possible & if it truly is learned behaviour that was never addressed b4 she went blind. But this may not b doable. Sounds like younger seeing dog desperately needs more interaction & play to suit its age & personality. Actively create opportunities for him to play w safe friendly puppies or adult seeing dogs. Introduce interactive toys whether bought or diy. Consider switching all his meals from bowl to food puzzles, kongs, frozen cubes, etc. This provides great mental exercise which can help w excess energy. Adding nose work games or exercise is another terrific way to tire dogs out w enrichment. And training or obstacles in yard can do the same. For yorkie she will likely benefit from extra stimulation of her sense, whether food puzzles or blind-dog toys & nose work. U just need to instruct her a bit differently w nose work, repeat several times. Def. dogs shouldn’t b play same space or same toys unless 100 % peaceable. U might consider introducing crate training for one or both dogs since it provides separate fave den when done correctly. But not adviseable if end result is crate=punishment!

    It is v common & seeing-dog ‘normal’ for seeing dog to take offence when newly blind dog suddenly ‘behaves rudely’ by bumping into or staring at the seeing dog, by being to close and for failing to ‘get’ & respond to all the seeing dogs’ visual communication that they are upset w newly blind dog. But u need to safely & under ur supervision teach seeing dog that this is the new normal & must b tolerated. I highly recommend getting help of experienced animal behaviourist for this. Until this happens it is ur job to b the eyes & protector 4 the newly blind dog—u must intervene when u observe seeing dog displaying signs they r getting upset. U may need to frequently separate them physically to de-escalate situation. When noone is able to supervise u must keep them separated for both their safety. Consider doing as much as possible to ur home, yard & routines to help ur blind dog ‘see’ & ‘map’ their world w their other senses. Read all the advice u can on how to do this. Actively show newly blind dog all the things that can help them differentiate and locate themselves ie mats of different textiles at every doorway so they know which room they’re in & when they’re going/coming. Outside changes in texture will do the same for them. As much as is required u need to teach seeing dog the new etiquette/social rules 4 newly blind dog: they need to learn to accept new behaviour of newly blind dog. (Also teach them to ‘escape’ situation instead of staying & fighting.?) Be as gentle & supportive w all dogs as possible. It could help putting googles on blind dog if staring is upsetting seeing dog. Similarly, a halo type collar might indicate for seeing dog that newly blind dog is now different. Importantly, it could also help blind dog feel safer in space & navigating as will b fewer bumps. A more confident blind dog who moves around more freely is a happier blind dog. By having all family members & pets wear bells (besides blind dog) u can help blind dog locate where everyone is—this may help them not bump into anyone & feel more confident & not disoriented.

  6. Hi,
    I live in south Florida, and my dog was recently diagnosed with SARDS. I love your reply, and wonder if you could recommend a behaviorist as I’m ready to start with one ASAP. My dog that can see definitely is not understanding my dog and acclimating well to my dog that can’t see and we want And will do everything possible as they are our children. Thank you so much I look forward to hearing from you

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