Living with a blind dog requires time and patience. Whether your dog is a senior and lost his vision as he aged or your dog was born blind, there are many ways to help him navigate through life. Remember too that your dog’s nose is a very powerful tool and he’ll use this to determine what around the environment is safe and when he needs your help.
Some stories we’ve seen are about dogs having their own “blind” dog partners, but for most of us, that’s not on the table.
According to PetCoach.com,
“If 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 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 others.”
Dog Naturally Magazine tells us that when our dog’s eyesight is almost completely gone, there are ways to help with the adjustment including:
- Adjust your dog’s training to rely on auditory and scent cues, such as clickers, treats, and verbal commands.
- Make your home safe for your blind dog. Use baby gates to restrict access to dangerous areas like stairs and balconies. Establish clear walkways for your dog that are free of furniture and other obstacles.
- Always keep your dog’s items, such as bedding, crate, food and water bowls, in the same location.
- Make an effort to socialize your dog. Help your blind dog explore familiar places without the benefit of eyesight and introduce him to new places, people and dogs. Take your time on walks and allow your dog plenty of time to explore with his ears and nose.
Nancy Fedelem, Owner of Three Paws Neighborhood Pet Supply, has a senior dog that is mostly blind:
“My 15-year-old Minpin Bubby has gone mostly blind and deaf in the last year. Over the last few months, I noticed that his sight had become even more limited. We use the “home base” idea for him and make sure that when we carry him anywhere, we always set him down in the same places so he can navigate indoors and out. He’s a brave little man and has been doing an incredible job adapting. We are always right there to help but he hardly ever needs it,” explains Fedelem.
Have you heard of the Muffin Halo? Muffin Halo is another product solution for blind dogs that need some extra help.
What about training your dog during this transition so they can navigate through the home and yard without injuring themselves. PetCoach.com also provide tips for owners:
- Create a “base camp” for your dog. A basecamp 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.
- Drinking water fountains work very well for blind dogs. The bubbling sound of the water fountain helps the dog locate his water source.
- Carpet squares or throw rugs can also be useful to alert your dog where doorways and other obstacles are located.
“A 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.”
You should also consider teaching your dog new words that will help him navigate new surroundings: “watch,” “easy,” “left,” “right,” “step up,” “step down,” “stop,” and even “down the ramp”.
Staff note: We are not veterinarians or medical experts. Seek advice from your vet if you need help with this topic.