Living with a blind dog is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, it’s really not difficult at all. There are a few things you need to adjust to but over time it gets easier and easier and before you know it, you find yourself sitting back wondering why you were so worried and upset to begin with.
Rule #1: Dogs aren’t people!
We often forget the fact that dogs aren’t people. They don’t think like people and they don’t act like people. Well maybe they do a little but really dogs are dogs and people are people. Dogs don’t get all emotional like we do. They have their emotions of course but they don’t hold on to them for long like we do. And they don’t sit and feel sorry for themselves like people do. With this in mind, you can better look after your blind dog by keeping your emotions out of it as much as possible. This doesn’t mean you can’t love your dog and you can’t cuddle them and talk to them and be there for them. What it means is that you take your negative emotions and leave them at the door when dealing with your dog. Dogs pick up on our energy and they can feel when you are sad. When you are around your dog you want to be strong and confident so they know that everything is okay.
Rule #2: Don’t pick up your dog
We don’t mean that you can never pick up your dog, however, there is a right time and a wrong time to to do it. To ensure that your dog adjusts quickly to being blind, you need to let them find their own way. So as long as they aren’t in a dangerous situation, avoid picking them up to help them get to their location. This especially applies if they are whimpering as you will only be rewarding this behavior and they will take longer to learn. If you pick up your dog and move to a different spot, the dog can become disorientated. They really have no idea where you have left them. Just call them to you and help them along by patting the side of your leg. If you have to pick up your dog then the best way to ensure that they know exactly where they are when you put them down is to place them at a base point like their bed for instance. Once there, they will know exactly where they are.
Rule #3: Don’t move the furniture too often
Contrary to popular belief, you are allowed to move your furniture or even move house if you have a blind dog. However the trick is to not do it too often. Each time you move things in your house your dog has to learn how to navigate the house all over again. When you move furniture just guide your dog around a few times until they get used to the new arrangement. Most dogs are pretty quick at figuring out that things have changed and they will get used to it quite quickly.
Rule #4: Keep your dog leashed
Blind dogs can be just as adventurous as sighted dogs and they will take off in all sorts of directions sniffing out things without even thinking that there may be some sort of hazard up ahead. They can easily fall of cliffs, into lakes and rivers or holes in the ground. So unless you really know the area, it’s best to keep your dog leashed when you are out. You can purchase long extender leads to give your dog some extra freedom.
Rule #5: Warn people that your dog is blind
Whether you have guests in your home or you meet people on the street whilst walking your dog, ensure you let them know that your dog is blind. Many blind dogs need warning before someone is going to pat them and the worst thing that could possible happen is your dog biting someone.
Rule #6: Use a harness and double-handled leash on your blind dog
Blind dogs can be a little erratic sometimes when they are out walking. A harness is a good way to keep them under control but it is also a necessity for a dog with glaucoma as it reduces the amount of pressure on their neck. A double-handled leash is ideal for a blind dog. These leashes have two handles, one at the top where you would normally expect one to be and one down further near the collar. This handle allows you to keep the dog close to you in tight situations.
Rule #7: Teach your dog the ‘Warning Word’
Whenever my dog is about to run into something I yell ‘Watch Out!’ and she stops immediately. She learned this pretty quickly because she realized what it meant after hitting things a few times. This is an important one for your dog to learn particularly if you let your dog off the leash. Choose a phrase that suits you. Here’ a few examples:
- Watch out!
- Look out!
Rule #8: Teach your dog to ‘Step up’ and ‘Step down’
The one thing you will notice when walking your dog is that when you come to a curb or step, they will just walk right into it. Obviously they have no idea when a step is going to appear so it’s up to you to tell them. Words like ‘step up’ and ‘step down’ will need to be part of your vocabulary when walking your dog.
Rule #9: Talk to your dog before patting them
A blind dog can get startled when you pat them without warning and depending on the dog this may result in a bite. Always talk to your dog first before patting them just so they know you are there. Ensure that your children understand this one.
Rule #10: Safety first!
Ensure you fence off anything that is likely to be a problem for your dog. Fence off the pool or ensure that if your dog falls in they know exactly how to get out. This applies to any water feature you might have in your yard. Also ensure that the fireplace is well protected…an excited dog can lose their sense of direction pretty easily and can run straight into a fire.