How to Care for a Blind Dog
22 April, 2013

My friend, Michelle, decided to take on the challenge of adopting, Kimmie, a beautiful 11 year old dog who is blind.  I am so taken with her compassion and she is excited and nervous about bringing Kimmie home.  Michelle fell in love with her instantly and wants to give Kimmie a great home for the rest of her years.

I did some research to see if I can help her out or make any recommendations as to the best way to care for a blind dog.

Get the home ready for your blind pup

It is important to get your home ready for your blind pup, especially at the start when he or she is learning the environment.  Make sure to remove dangerous obstacles (such as toys or pulled-out chairs) where your dog might walk.  You can also try to use different tactile or auditory cues such as plastic runners to help your dog using the runner’s texture or the sound of her toenails clicking on the mat to guide her.

Put a stair gate at the bottom of the stairs if your house has more than one story. A blind dog shouldn’t go upstairs unsupervised so he or she doesn’t get hurt.

Smells and sounds are great for blind dogs

A blind dog’s senses such as smell and hearing are heightened and are used to navigate and learn about the world around them.  If you put a small amount of aromatherapy oil on any vertical surface, both inside and outside, such as door frames and furniture, this can help guide your dog so he or she can avoid collision hazards.

You can even start with putting a bell on your shoes and other cats or dogs in your home, so your new dog will hear when someone is near him or her.

Establish a daily routine with your dog

It is important that you establish a daily routine with your blind dog so he or she can become conditioned as to when meals, play, exercise time, and bedtime routines are established each day.  Make sure that the dog dish and doggie bed are always in the same place so your dog does not get confused.  You can also use verbal cues to help remind your dog what is happening at the moment.  “Time for breakfast” or even “Let’s go for a walk.”

Teach your dog to sit or stay or any commands that are necessary

Blind dogs can be trained for some actions far easier than sighted dogs, because they are not distracted. Easy words are the best way to train a blind dog.  You can teach your dog to sit, stay, shake, leave it, and any other command you think is desired.  This will probably require more touch and treats than a dog that can see, but it certainly can be done.

You can condition your dog if he or she is doing something wrong or navigating to an undesired area with a negative or sharp sound.  The sound alone should be enough to deter the bad behavior.

Don’t be afraid to walk your blind dog

Blind dogs can sometimes be better on a leash than dogs that can see well; they don’t have the distractions that seeing dogs do. They will learn that a slight tension on the leash means to turn. Keep your dog on a close leash so you can steer her or him from something he or she may bump into, but let them run if it’s clear and they want to.

Show them your love with touch and a rub

All dogs need love and affection.  The best way to show your affection and caring is to your blind dog is with a nice rub down or a kiss on the head!  All dogs understand love and this is the best motivator for good behavior.

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