There are several reasons for blindness in a dog. Sometimes it is simply due to old age. In any case if it has occurred later in life your dog will need to adapt to the new situation. Their remaining senses can help them greatly adapt to their surroundings. In order of importance you will be happy to know sight is only number 3 behind hearing and the sense of smell.
You need to understand that your dog’s blindness is much harder on you than on your dog. As dog’s live very much “in the moment”, they adapt to things as they are dealt with it. However they do very much sense your emotional state and will be affected by it. So, it is extremely important you treat your sightless dog as you did before they went blind. It is up to you to help your dog adapt.
Put a blind fold on you , and your children and wander around the house if as this will give you all a better understanding of what it is like for your dog.
I have communicated with many dogs that are blind or going blind and I want to share some of their insights. One of the dogs was a husky and not adapting well, and he suggested to me about using different scents for different things. So with his person we used essential oils. One for the doorways and a different one for the furniture and we were all amazed how much easier it was for him.
Then there are the elderly animals, which have mentioned that their challenge is dealing with all of the side effects of aging including their sense of sense and sight. They say that their ability to see in dim light is very poor so we need to be aware of how far they need to travel at night between their bed, food, water and toilet facility. This is why, they often resort to going to the toilet in the house if normally outdoors, or closer to their bed as it is just too difficult to go that far and have become very fearful.
If you would love to hear what your dog needs you to know, contact Animal Talk. We can translate the needs of your dog directly to you or you can learn to speak the silent language yourself. www.animaltalk.com.au
A FEW HELPFUL TIPS!
- Speak to your dog in your normal cheery voice.
- As your voice is very soothing to your dog, make sure you speak with him often. Let him know you are approaching.
- You heavy footsteps when you approach so he can feel the vibration.
- You could attach bells to you, other human and animal occupants so he can know everyone’s whereabouts.
- Always be positive, and maintain his routine to avoid him becoming depressed or withdrawn.
- When playing using squeaky toys will help him locate the toy.
- Create a home base for your dog, by setting up his crate, bed, food and water so if he becomes confuses he can return to this one location and re-orientate himself.
- Place his food under a large mat as he will become accustomed to it and always know where his food is.
- Drinking fountains work well as your dog can hear the bubbling of the water.
- Keep all furniture in the same place so it is a stable environment. Sharp edges can be bubble-wrapped.
- Don’t place new objects randomly around the house as you dog may be startled or run into them.
- You can also use keywords like ”watch”, if your dog is heading for something hazardous.
- Do not pick your dog up and carry him around – he needs to learn independence.
- Putting a radio on or TV can be reassuring to your dog in your absence.
- Using baby-gates to block stairways and other hazards.
- Introducing another dog may not be wise at it will be a huge adjustment to both dogs. But if you do , do it carefully.
- Making sure hazards like pools etc are blocked off form your dog in the backyard.
- Put wood chips up to a metre around trees or outbuildings so your dog knows he is approaching them.
- Your dog will still love walking with you but exchange the collar for a harness, as you will better be able to direct your dog safely and less abruptly.
- Train your dogs with certain commands – “Step up”, “step down”, and “stop” etc
- Make sure his identification tag also reads “I am Blind”.
- Bet a bandana vest with the words “I am blind” written on it, to alert people.
- Be careful when approaching other dogs as your dog can no longer read their body language and may be started.