You Asked, We Answered
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I CAN DO FOR MY NEWLY BLIND DOG?
Start being confident that he can lead a normal life!
Dogs pick up on our emotions and take their cue from how you are feeling. If you are projecting fear, worry or upset then you pass those feelings to your dog.
MY DOG IS SCARED TO WALK DOWN STEPS, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Don't pick him up!
Every time you do, it reinforces his idea that this is something he can't do by himself, so the fear is reinforced.
You need to exude firm confidence, and insist that he walks down. No nonsense - no argument or excuses from him ....this is something he is expected to do, and has always done before. This is the point at which he learns he can trust your voice to guide him safely.Use two commands "Step up" & "Step down". Lots of positive voice (and treat) reward for the first step, the first time....then stretch things out so he doesn't get the positive until he gets to the bottom. The first time or two is hard, but then they just "get it" and never look back.
The same applies to all his challenges. The more you project that any one thing is just 'normal' and he is expected to do it just the way he used to, the faster his confidence will grow..
SHOULD I LET MY BLIND DOG OFF THE LEAD?
Yes! as soon as possible, as long as his recall was good before the sight was lost. If not, or if you are starting out with a blind puppy, then work on recall training at home, and on a long line until you are sure your dog will come to you when called.
Do choose a walk the dog is familiar with, and has walked several times with you on a lead, since losing sight - a safe open area is best.Take a deep breath, and unclip the leash. It is a major step forward in returning to, or establishing, a normal life.Use frequent recall at the start, and remember that you need to constantly let your dog know where you are as they can lost track of your position when they stop to sniff.
1. It is your responsibility to ensure you have control of your dog off the lead.
2. Never forget that you are now your dogs eyes and need to be aware of every obstacle that could cause harm - from staying safely on a path, to not running into a hedge when he is pelting across a field.
2. Never allow your dog to go further than your voice can carry - and remember that wind direction affects how far your voice can travel.
3. Your dog will tend to return in a straight line to your voice, so never do a full recall if the dog has to go across a danger area i.e ditch.
IS IT TRUE THAT I CAN'T MOVE MY FURNITURE NOW?
Yes you can. Just don’t shut the dog out when you do it!
As soon as he realises things are shifting, he will start to re-map. Some settling issues will occur, but these are always transient
HOW CAN MY BLIND DOG BE SAFE IF HE CAN'T SEE?
The most vital thing you can teach a blind dog, is your safe word. It starts in the home, at the outset, with the early bumping stage and can eventually allow him to navigate the world with absolute confidence, with you as his eyes.Choose whatever word you prefer .....I use “Careful” .....but pick with care, as you need a word that can be used with a wide variety of intonations, from a quiet gentle warning to move slightly to the side and avoid a minor obstacle, to a full blown yell with a tinge of fear to stop him in his tracks as he runs headlong towards a ditch! ....and all the variants between the two.
You will use this for the rest of his life ….all the time!
WHAT ALLOWANCES SHOULD I MAKE NOW MY DOG IS BLIND??
Dogs live very much "in the moment", so making allowances just teaches him/her that this is now the way to behave.
If you continue to treat your dog very much as before then he will default to the behaviour he has been used to.
A blind dog (or puppy) is not a strange new breed…..it is still a dog in every sense, and the chewed shoe is just as trashed as it would be if a sighted puppy chewed it!
There are obviously some exceptions - you do need to be your dogs eyes, and teach him to trust your voice to guide him in new environments. Taking the same walk each day in useful in the first few months, and talking while you walk so he has a point of reference is a habit you should get into, but these are actually your behavioural modifications, not his!
Watch some of our videos to see how exceptionally "normal" a blind dog can be.