START TO HELP YOUR NEWLY BLIND DOG
Imagine a blind person needing to navigate through daily life without cane, or guide dog. It is a frightening thought This is how a blind dog copes every day, and they are able to do so because their responses and senses are very different to humans.
Dogs "live in the moment" and do not reflect on what the future holds, but as owners we can create full and active lives for our blind dogs
Working with the enhanced canine senses of hearing and scent, your dog can learn to trust you sufficiently to face the world with confidence .... and that confidence begins with you!
Dogs pick up on our emotions, and at a time when a newly blind dog is already bewildered, it is distressing if their loving owner is projecting worry and upset.
It is vital that you dry your tears and start to believe that your dog really can still lead a full and active life. If YOU believe he can, then the dog is off to a flying start
All newly bind dogs bump into things initially, and will do so in new environments throughout their life.At home, the bumping stage is usually quite brief and is a vital part of a dog learning a new way to navigate. Blind dogs will always continue to gently bump some spots around their home and this is deliberate...a way to confirm that they are where they think they are in the same way a blind person might put a hand on a chair back to assure themself of their orientation in a room.
Halo's (and bubble wrapping furniture) actually interfere with the navigation process, and I never recommend them for this reason.
The most important thing you can teach your newly blind dog is a safety word. You will use it together for the rest of his life, and it is the key to enabling them to safely enjoy walks off lead.I use "careful", but the choice is yours.
Start teaching in the bumping stage and use the word softly when you see your dog bump. The intention is not to stop the bump, but for the dog to start associating the two things
Eventually you can work this up, with a variety of tones and volume, so the dog will literally stop still at a distance for you, if running into danger. Practice makes perfect
Wherever possible, do not lift your dog in an effort to help it get somewhere as the dog simply becomes disorientated and has to restart navigation.Instead, just pat your leg and say "this way" repeatedly until you get to where he was going.If the dog was just bumbling about with no specific destination, leave him to it....he is probably navigating.
Steps are often daunting, and an area where you may have to be firm. The dog has always used these steps, they haven"t changed, and he can DO this! Use lots of encouragement (treats are definitely allowed) for his first step, and gradually stretch it out until he gets praise and reward only at the bottom.Start to associate words i.e "up" "down" so he will eventually be able to use steps happily wherever he finds them
It is hard to watch at the start, but after a few attempts they just 'get it' and never look back. The more positive you are the faster they learn
Positivity and perseverance
Believe in your dog and set your expectations high.
The house with all its smells, furniture placements and feeding spots is the same as it has always been and your dog will quickly be moving around it at his previous levels of speed if he is allowed to find his way.Equally, puppies are uniquely adapted to adopting new environments, so should not be more overly protected than a sighted pup, other than the obvious dangers which it cannot see such as ponds etc
Enabling your dog is all about believing that he can do it all.
Good recall is essential for blind dogs. If you dog did not have good recall before losing sight, it is time to start teaching. Use a dog qualified dog trainer if you are unsure of how to tackle this.
Remember, when you are out and about that you are now your dogs eyes. Don,t get distracted on the job....you need to recall if other dogs are near, if he is going too far, if there are obstacles ahead, or any other number of reasons.
Whilst the basics will apply, all dogs are different....some may be slow to adapt, whilst blind from birth puppies may seem supremely confident.
Older dogs often suffer a periodvof depression which may last several weeks after sight loss. This is normal. and they do get their spirit back. Just be gentle, but stay positive and don't lower your expectations. Elderly dogs, who may also have other health conditions, should always be allowed to take things at their own pace.
Blind puppies tend to be supremely over confident, and often carry this into adulthood, which can be an issue as they are unable to read other dogs signals. It is important that they are given the most socialisation possible, and are well trained in their behaviour around other dogs. Again if you are unsure how to approach this then speak with a qualified dog trainner