Seven Tips for Living With a Blind Dog
Dogs can lose their sight due to a variety of reasons, but because vision is their third most important sense (smell is first and hearing is second), most dogs and their families adjust well to the situation with a few simple lifestyle changes. The most important goal behind these changes is to create an atmosphere that builds a dog’s confidence. These tips for living with a blind dog, along with an understanding of why some blind dogs may lose confidence, can help you help your dog lead a happy life.
Why confidence is a key to helping your blind dog lead a happy life
Some dogs who lose their sight are reluctant to move around their home, even when they have lived in that environment their entire life.
Cathy Symons, certified veterinary technician, certified canine rehabilitation practitioner, and author of Blind Devotion: Enhancing the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired Dogs believes this is, in part, due to a loss of confidence. Blind dogs make a “mental map” of their home and develop reference points and landmarks. But like sighted dogs, blind dogs use their toenails to get traction. Since blind dogs cannot see the floor beneath them, slipping on a slick surface can be especially frightening for them. Some dogs give up and move around less. They isolate themselves from their family and end up becoming fearful and anxious.
Meet Booda, a blind dog who regained his confidence
That’s what happened to Ms. Symons’ dog, Booda, who became blind when he was seven years old. Booda would sit in one spot all day until a family member guided him around the house. Symons turned to ToeGrips for help. She put the non-slip grips on both of her blind dogs, Booda and Digger, and saw an immediate response from both dogs. ToeGrips gave the dogs’ the traction and tactile sensation they needed to get up and move around the house. And with increased mobility came increased confidence.
Additionally, having a good attitude about a dog’s disability and helping him or her increase the use of their other senses enables them to lead a happy life.
Here are seven confidence-boosting tips for living with a blind dog:
1. Allow plenty of opportunities for your dog to use that sense of smell.
Use fragrant oils to mark specific areas in the house such as the dog’s bed or a doorway.
2. Don’t redecorate your living space.
Keep furniture, bedding, water bowls in the same place so your dog can create a map in their brain of their environment.
3. Cover anything sharp.
Cushion the sharp corners of furniture to keep your blind dog safe.
4. Play up tactile sensations in your dog’s environment.
ToeGrips, carpet runners, and the use of different textures will let a blind dog use their paws to feel what room they have entered.
5. Increase your dog’s vocabulary.
Teach a blind dog additional commands like “wait” or “step” to keep him or her safe. Your dog will know what you want them to do in new situations. Also, add pleasant sounds in your home, living spaces, and backyard. This will give your dog an auditory cue that signals the living environment.
6. Buy new toys.
Make life enjoyable with toys that squeak, beep, or make noise.
7. Teach others how to approach a blind dog.
Educate friends and family to let a blind dog sniff their hand before reaching out to touch them.
And our last tip for living with a blind dog?
Relax and enjoy your dog!
Do you have any additional tips for living with a blind dog?
We’d love to hear! Please comment below.