Living with a blind dog

It can be a worrying time if your dog suddenly goes blind or is gradually losing their vision. Understandably, you may question your dog’s quality of life and wonder how you can keep them and your family safe. But with a few small tweaks to your lifestyle, it’s possible for your dog to continue living happily with you at home.

Dog proofing

Just as you would safeguard your home for visiting children, have a think about the possible dangers for your dog. Try crawling around your house and garden to gain ‘first paw’ experience of the possible hazards.

  • Cover sharp corners on low furniture such as coffee tables
  • Use baby gates near any stairs
  • Cover (or fence off) ponds
  • Block off narrow spaces to avoid your dog becoming stuck (e.g. behind sofas and appliances)
  • Keep your floorplan the same; if you swap furniture around, change things gradually to give your dog time to adjust
  • Tidy up! Keep your floors clear of potential trip hazards for your dog

‘Signpost’ your house

Your dog will learn to rely less on vision and more on their other senses to guide them.

  • Leave the radio on in one room to act as an audio location cue for your dog; this is especially useful when you go out
  • Keep their bowls in the same spot (preferably somewhere quiet to avoid them being startled while eating)
  • Consider using a doggy water fountain; your dog will learn the sound of running water
  • Use textured rugs in entrance halls, near doors and before steps to help your dog recognise where they are
  • Animal-friendly scents (such as citronella and lavender) could help distinguish between rooms

Routine

All dogs feel secure knowing their routine. For blind dogs, it’s especially important to maintain consistent feeding and exercise times.

Get talking

Talk more to your dog to reassure them and let them know where you are in the house. Brush up on your commands and teach your dog a few new instructions to help you both adjust.

  • ‘Step up/ step down’ when you approach kerbs
  • ‘Careful’ when approaching noisy hazards
  • ‘Heel’ is more important than ever now you’re acting as your dog’s guide
  • ‘Stop’ or ‘halt’ if your dog is heading towards danger

Make a safe space

Give your dog a den to retreat to if they feel anxious when the house is especially busy with visitors. Teach children to leave your dog alone when they’re in their safe place.

Out and about

  • Stick to familiar walks while your dog adjusts to being outside
  • Carry a bell so your dog always knows where you are (start with your dog on the lead then gradually allow more freedom once your dog grows in confidence).
  • A collar or bandana lets others know your dog is blind.
  • Warn people to talk to your dog before approaching and petting them. Even the gentlest of dogs can bite if startled.
  • Keep your dog’s microchip details up to date and check your number is clear to read on their ID tag. Add wording such as ‘blind dog’ to the tag to help potential finders understand how to best handle your dog.

Try a blind dog ‘halo’

These widely available, light-weight collars and harnesses extend beyond your dog’s head to prevent them colliding into objects, people and other dogs.

Enjoy your dog!

Your dog will still love playing with you and it’s a great way to strengthen your bond. Get creative with your games. Try using balls with bells, squeaky or scented toys and food-filled ‘Kong’ type toys for games of fetch or hide and seek.

At Focus, we can guide you through both the medical details of your dog’s vision loss and the practicalities of living with a blind dog. If you need further support with any aspect of your dog’s condition, please contact us.