We take our vision for granted. But our canine friends can also experience some of the same issues that we have when it comes to our vision. So we should plan accordingly to allow them to have a comfortable and safe environment should they become vision impaired/blind.
- Try to treat them as normal as possible. Building their confidence is key to letting them know they can still do things and that you still love them…let them know they are still the same dog in your eyes. For a vision impaired/blind dog it can be the basis for what type of personality they will develop.
- Remember we take things so much harder than they do and they also pick up on our emotions. So try to express “happy” emotions around your vision impaired/blind canine friend.
- Emphasize the senses they still have. For a vision impaired/blind dog capitalize on their sense of smell, hearing, taste and touch.
- Ask people to let your dog “smell” their hand before touching them. Most vision impaired/blind dog’s personalities don’t change. Some dogs; however, can easily become “startled” and this could also lead to fear biting.
- Try not to move furniture around or leave obstacles on the floor.
- Coax, encourage and praise them to do the same things they did before. However, understand and still praise them if they “can’t”.
- Be creative with different scents to mark areas for your vision impaired/blind dog—just make sure it’s safe for them. You can use different scents of flavored extracts or even something as simple as hanging a car air freshener or potpourri sachet on a door. Using different scented candles in each room may also help your dog distinguish from different rooms in your house.
- Use textured materials to mark areas. Throw rugs and decorative pillows are great (and people don’t even realize their “Real” purpose). Indoor/outdoor carpeting, wind chimes and something as simple as cedar chips or decorative bricks or blocks can help guide them along their way outside.
- Use bells or jingling tags on your other dogs…not only help your vision impaired/blind dog to find/follow your other dogs, but will also avoid them from being startled by your other dogs. You can also use bells on your shoes to help them find you.
- Don’t be afraid to walk with a “heavy foot” when approaching them especially with a vision impaired/blind dog…they can still feel vibrations.
- Be very vocal with your dog.
- Establish an area for their food and water. This can be accomplished by using an association of a smell or floor texture.
Just remember to treat your dog like any other so he doesn’t develop fears or anxiety.
Vicki and Richard Horowitz, of Woodbridge, are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.dog-training-new-haven-ct.com.