Tips for Coping with a Blind dog

The day might come that you too, as a pet owner, will have to learn to live with your pet going blind.  In many cases deafness also occurs during this time.  Some of us probably experience this over time as the pet gradually looses eyesight and over this period, one adjusts accordingly.  There are also situations where sudden blindness occurs, due to accidents or illnesses and sometimes we chose to adopt a pet that is blind.  What does one do when you live with a blind pet?

Dealing with a blind pet is most certainly a challenge that can easily be overcome and we would like to share with you a few tips to make life easier sooner for both you and your blind pet.

 

Safety Tips for a Blind Pet

  1. Block off any unsecured areas like a swimming pool or a busy road.  If you can’t block off the swimming pool, place something in the pool that could help the pet to get out.  Many pools have steps, but they are just too deep for a small animal to jump out of.  Placing a few bricks on the steps will at least provide a point of exit if need be.  It’s a challenge to get out of a pool and if the water is cold, it makes it just that much harder.
  2. Place baby safety gates around the house to control access.
  3. Sharp corners, plants with thorns and other dangerous objects need to be secured. You can find most of these safety items in any baby section of the local store.
  4. Build ramps over steps
  5. Get them a “Blind Dog” safety vest, harness or collar for walks and trips to the beach or park.

Leashing Your Blind Pet

  1. Your leash becomes an extension of you and your dog will feel safe when they are leashed.  It’s like holding someone’s hand, even dogs that are not blind feel safer on a leash.
  2. Use the leash both on walks and inside the house until they feel comfortable with their area.
  3. Blind pets don't know the difference between night and day.  You will need to communicate this to them both verbally and with actions to avoid a sudden need for food and attention in the middle of the night.  You might want to consider leashing them at night close to you to get them used to the idea of night time is sleep time.

Routine is key for a blind pet

  1. Always keep everything in the same place at all times, inside and outside the house.
  2. Feed your blind pet on the same spot, in the same bowl.
  3. Go for walks but follow the same route.

Talk to your (blind) pets

  1. Speak to your pets and tell them what you do and where you go, like babies, often people don't realise just how much they truly understand of what we say to them.  So talk to them as much as you can about what is going on around them and actions you plan to take.
  2. Be precise and use short 1 word commands.  Remember tone and is as important to what you communicate.
  3. Bed Time / Sleepy Time, Good morning! Good dog! Going out now! Im home! Walkies? Down, Up, Sit, Stay,   ... you get the idea.

Educate visitors

  1. Most people don't know how to react around a blind dog, so tell them what to do when they arrive. 
  2. Maybe the dog likes a small rub on the head, or maybe the dog prefers to be left alone.  Blind dogs might also feel lonely as they will just sit on their bed and not get up to come greet the guests, but a friendly voice might be a welcome change for them. 
  3. Tell your dog that someone is coming to say hello to them (or not).

Map the house with scent / textures / sounds

  1. Whilst your dog is blind, he is still very much capable of smell.  Consider using different flavours around the house to help the dog find his way.  This is really for when you are starting out or make a change.  Mix up a little cup with chicken or beef stock and place it in the area.
  2. Place mats around the house with various textures.
  3. Give each pet in the house a collar bell to help with differentiating who is where.
  4. Provide toys that have bells or sounds coming from them.

One of our readers – Judith Jooste - shared with us her tips on how she helped her blind dog, which we thought was so admirable and definitely worth sharing with you :

  1. Firstly to get a complete and full understanding of her dogs plight Judith went down on her knees and crawled everywhere to gain a full understanding of what it must be like ‘down there’ ... Judith for president! We salute you for this act alone.
  2. She built ramps at all the stairs
  3. Placed runners on tiled areas. This helped her dog understand the area better, as mentioned above in helping the dog to mind-map the house.
  4. Toys got smeared with flavours to help her dog to be able to smell and play with his toys.

Well done and thank you for sharing your tips with us Judith.  Does anyone have any other tips to share, we will be happy to publish them here if you send them to us?

As soon as your dog is used to their way around the home, they will be just fine and enjoy a very happy life.

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