In the Home

Making your home safe for a blind dog

There are a number of things you can do to make your home safe for a dog with limited or no sight. If you are willing and able to do so, getting down on all fours to view the world at dog height could help you to identify possible hazards for your blind dog.

Here are a few tips that will get you started: –

  • Consider fitting a child gate at the top and bottom of the staircase – at least until your dog has learned to master the stairs
    Note: See Training Techniques for tips on how best to teach your dog to negotiate stairs
  • Place a mat or small rug at top and bottom of the staircase to help your dog identify where the stairs begin
  • If you have wooden, non-carpeted stairs that can be slippery for canine feet you could fit non-skid adhesive strips to the edge of each step. This will increase traction and so help your dog feel more confident when negotiating the stairs. Alternatively you could use Dr Buzby’s Toe Grips which will provide added traction to your dog’s feet
  • Fit a child gate to any doorways you want to stop your dog from going through, for example the door to the kitchen
  • Fit bubble wrap, foam pipe insulation or other padding to the corners or edges of low furniture such as coffee tables
  • Fireguards are always advisable if you have children or pets, but with a blind pet they are even more essential

Helping your blind dog learn their way round your home

  • Don’t alter the layout of any of the rooms in your home. Try not to move furniture even slightly. If you need to move an item of furniture for cleaning or other reasons, try to make sure you put it back where it was
  • Don’t leave things lying around the floor for your dog to trip over. Items left lying around can also lead to confusion for a blind dog as s/he won’t know how big or long they are when trying to step round or over the obstacle
  • A small mat or rug at each doorway (as well as at the bottom and top of the staircase) will help your blind dog identify when they are moving from one room to another. An economical way to do this would be to get hold of some carpet squares or remnants
  • Apply Scent Markers to door frames, stairs and other landmarks or hazards in your home. Alternatively you could use scented oils such as orange, lavendar etc and you could use a different scent for each type of landmark, but remember to refresh the oils regularly as the scent fades
  • Use carpet runners to make a road/pathway to help guide your dog through your home
  • If you have uncarpetted, hard floors such as floorboards or tiles, you could use carpet runners or rugs to provide areas around the house with better traction and therefore help your blind dog feel more confident when walking around your home. This is particularly helpful for older dogs who may have restricted and/or painful joint movement. If you don’t want to have carpet runners and rugs around your home a good alternative would be to use Dr Buzby’s Toe Grips which are small rubber rings that are fitted around each of your dog’s claws to provide added traction to their feet
  • For a dog who is reluctant to explore their surroundings, you could use a lead/leash to walk your pet round the house until s/he becomes used to the layout. Use verbal cues as you walk your dog round the house to warn of danger eg steps or stairs
    You should repeat this process as often as necessary until your pet becomes confident enough to find their own way
  • Having a radio or TV on low in the background all the time can help your blind dog get their bearings
  • Keep the doors in the house either fully open or fully closed, never part open
  • Consider using a water fountain instead of a water bowl – the sound will help your dog locate their water and could also help them to keep their bearings
  • Avoid picking your dog up and carrying them to their bed, food etc. This will confuse and disorientate them and will delay them from learning their own way round their home

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