by Abigail Geer | June 5, 2014 | 1:00 pm
Sharing your home with a blind dog may be less worrying, and more rewarding than you think. In fact, blind dogs can be some of the most obedient and affectionate canine companions around.
There are several conditions that can lead to blindness in dogs. Birth defects, injury, illness and age can all cause or contribute to loss of sight. The good news is, dogs live very much in the here and now, and their remaining senses will more than make up for any loss of vision.
Whether your dog was born blind, has gone blind later in life, or is in the process of losing his sight, these top ten tips will help ensure your pooch leads a happy and comfortable life:
1. Scatter Kibble – When introducing your blind dog to a new space try scattering kibble throughout the area. The dog will search for the kibble but as he is using his nose and moving slowly, he will learn the layout of the space without running into as many objects.
2. A Sighted Buddy – Having a sighted buddy that your blind dog can use as a guide is incredibly helpful. A seeing canine companion will help show them the ropes and if you have the helper dog wear a jingling tag or bell, the blind dog will hear when she is nearby or approaching.
3. Use Texture – Textures are an effective tool for helping your blind dog distinguish objects and generally get around. For example, if you place a mat under the food bowl, when he feels the texture change he’ll know what to expect next.
4. Establish Routines – Establish a daily schedule with routines so your blind dog knows what is about to happen. This means keeping meal times, play times and walk times as consistent as possible. It is also important to keep everyday objects like food and water bowls in the same place.
5. Dog’s Eye View – To make sure there are no sharp objects that your dog can bump into, get down on your hands and knees and look out for anything that could be a potential hazard. Table edges, cabinets, door facings — cushion anything that he may run into while he adjusts to his setting.
6. Stair Gates – To prevent your dog from tumbling down the stairs, install a stair gate. Stairs and steps are scary for a blind dog and disorientation can cause them to slip and fall. If he needs to go up (or down), always carry him.
7. Verbal Cues – Be sure to use verbal cues throughout the day to reassure your dog and help him feel more connected to your daily interactions. Short directional words such as sit, down, stay, come, walk, and dinner will act as the perfect guide.
8. Use Scents – Use scents to map out locations or forbidden areas in and around your home. For example, you can use a specific scent to cue your dog to avoid ledges or to make them aware of an important place in the room. These same scents can then be used to comfort him when he is in an unknown environment.
9. Be Affectionate – Sighted dogs will look at your face for affection, but blind dogs can’t. Liberal touching, petting, cuddling and rubbing are their only signs that you are affectionate towards them.
10. Build Confidence – To help build your dog’s confidence ,make sure you talk to him often. By always encouraging him with positive reinforcement, he will feel like he can still do things for himself.