For many people, owning a blind dog can seem like an overwhelming endeavor.
You may feel sorry for the dog, or maybe you simply don’t know how to keep a blind dog safe.
Have no fear, I’m here to tell you living with a visually impaired dog can be just as easy as living with his sight seeing friends!
First and foremost, there are several kinds of visually impaired dogs, and it’s important to note the differences.
1. The first kind are dogs who were born blind.
It’s possible their eyes weren’t formed completely in the womb, or there was a trauma that caused them to be nonfunctional.
For dogs, this is the simplest version. You can’t miss something you’ve never had, and dogs that are born blind are able to keep up with their siblings thanks to an amplified sense of smell and hearing.
If you are adopting a blind puppy he may take a few days to learn the layout of your house, but he will quickly be running around so fast that your friends won’t know he can’t see!
2. The next kind of doggie blindness is the kind that is acquired over time.
These dogs are often older and have been gradually losing their vision as their cataracts or glaucoma worsens.
A dog like this may not even be totally blind. It’s possible they see shadows and are simply night blind. It is sometimes necessary for dogs with cataracts or glaucoma to have their eyes removed.
Often, when this is necessary, the dogs are already mostly blind and other than the recovery from the surgery itself, the dog will be back to normal in no time.
3. The third kind are dogs that have lost their vision due to an accident or a trauma.
This is possibly the worst form of blindness as the change is sudden, and there will likely be some fear related to the accident. If the dog was hit by a car and that caused his blindness, the sound of cars will likely make him extremely fearful.
While this is an extra hurdle to overcome it is one that you can make fun for you and your pooch!
It is important to keep in mind that dogs are very optimistic and they live in the moment. Whether they were born blind or had a traumatic event that caused their blindness, feeling sorry for them will only make your dog insecure and cause behavioral issues down the road.
Do your best to keep things upbeat!
Your dog loves life and he wants to live each day to the fullest with you! Don’t leave him behind simply because he can’t see where you are going.
While it would be a huge blow for you to be without your vision, it usually isn’t a huge adjustment for our canine companions. With noses that are as much as 100 times more sensitive than ours, a dog views his world through his nose first and his eyes second.
The loss of sight will just cause his senses of smell and hearing to become even more honed.
Some important things to remember if you own a blind dog:
Be careful when introducing him to other dogs.
While he may be super friendly he will no longer be able to read the other dog’s body language. This could make your former dog park star into a bit more of a recluse.
Start off slowly by having play dates with dogs he already knows, and when he gets used to playing without his vision you can try adding in a few new friends!
Try not to rearrange the furniture.
If you absolutely must rearrange you can, but keep in mind that your dog has learned the paths he can and can’t take in your house.
It is possible for him to learn new ones, but he will be doing a lot of bumping around until he memorizes it.
To make the adjustment easier on your pup, consider getting him a Halo Vest.
Halo Vests are basically vests worn by blind dogs that provide them with a flexible halo around their head.
When they are about to bump into something the halo will hit it instead and your dog will know to go around the obstacle ahead of him!
You can teach a blind dog new tricks.
Just because your dog is blind doesn’t mean he can no longer learn obedience commands or tricks. It’s even more important to keep your dog mentally stimulated now that he can’t engage with the sights around him.
Imagine how boring your day would be if you were stuck in a crate and couldn’t see the world around you, but if you knew your parents were going to come home and play games with you it would make your day a lot more exciting!
At the end of the day the most important thing to remember about owning a blind dog is that they are still dogs.
They still love to go for walks and explore the outdoors and meet new people, they are just using different senses to do it.
Don’t feel sorry for your pooch and be sure to give him lots of opportunities to exercise his brain and build his confidence!
If you don’t yet have a dog, but are considering adopting one with special needs be sure to check out this awesome PawedIn article about the Shelter Pet Project and the things they are doing to save animals in need!
Fun Fact: One super amazing activity for blind dogs is that of scent work. Scent work, or nose work as it is sometimes referred to, is basically the sport of teaching your dog to find things with his nose!