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blindmansbluffkidsoldWhen was the last time you played blind mans bluff? Do you remember how the game goes... One person (usually a child) is blindfolded. The person is spun around and a round then released. Remember watching the person with their arms out, trying to keep from wobbling or falling calling out to his friends..  How we used to laugh when the blindfolded Child stumbled or walked past us missing us by just inches.

 I remember how some of our blindfolded friends got really good a finding us and some that were totally hopeless.

Now just imagine how that can be for a blind or sight impaired dog. The same way with our dogs.

But not all is lost, many many dogs totally blind develop a 6th sense. With a little help from their human family friends, they adapt so well that people are amazed when they discover they are blind.   Dogs just like humans appear to have the ability to "map" their environment. You should try this your self to get a better appreciation for your fur friend's mapping skills.


To help our pets it has be suggested to add objects that help orientate them. 

windchime grief

 Landmarks inside and out. A great suggestion is placing a small wind chime at the back door.

 A fountain-type water bowl that lets the water drip or splash would make another great landmark outside.

 A "Path" of carpet runners, or heavy rubber shelf liner down hallways and large rooms will help your dog "map" the house. You should try walking from the front of your house blindfolded  and barefooted just once. This will help you will understand how hard it is  to judge where things are unless you have textures to walk on. This will also help you identify where throw rugs and mats may need to be placed. We recommend textured mats under bowls; door mats at doors, steps, and stairs.

An idea that I came across recently was, using rolls of bubble wrap to mark walk ways for you pet.bubblewrapw

Placing scents on danger areas (vanilla, citrus, furniture polish, etc.) is another idea that is used often by those with blind dogs. The scent does not need to be strong, a dog's sense of smell is much better than yours. Put the scent on the small felt circles that are used to protect furniture and floors from scratches. Or you can by them from different sites that specialize in products for Blind and sight impaired pets.

 If there are other pets in the house, put bells on their collars or other clunky items so the blind dog will have warning as to where the other pet is. (Christmas bell of different sizes will help identify each pet).


 Use Mesh Eye wear to protect the eyes or prevent a blinding glare in bright light for dogs with dogglescataracts and other light sensitive vision problems.





We did not have to worry about stairs but this is good to know for those that do:

Stairs - Stepping off into the unknown can be very tramatic. Use baby gates, decorative fireplace screens, etc. to block off stairs and other dangerous areas.doggiedoor Don't push it. A traumatic fall can cause a permanent fear. Give it time.  A treat (piece of kibble) on each step or two going down. 


Stand in front of the dog and hook your finger lightly in the collar or harness. Encourage, but try not to pull the dog down the steps. Some dogs will need lots of practice going up and down until it's done smoothly. Put mats at the top and bottom of stairs. A narrow strip of good old shelf liner on the very edge might help.




 Make this one your self.
Guiding Harnesses seem to work best, and should always be used instead of a collar for dogs with glaucoma.  If you use Doggie doors here is an idea for training a dog to use one. (Although I am not a fan of these door, I know many pet owners are using them, This may help keep your pet safe).

Pass a leash through a length of PVC pipe for a rigid guide using the Doggie door: hold the door open and lure the dog through with a treatWork on vocabulary: "careful", Watch!", "step up", "step down", "find it", etc.

bubblewrapwallA dog needs to bump around in order to "map out" his environment.

Lead him around to obstacles he would normally encounter and let him bump (gently) . Say "Oops!" in a playful voice and lead him off in a different direction. For areas with sharp corners and dogs having a hard time adapting another way that might help is wrapping table legs and corners with bubble wrap until he has mapped out these objects and learns not to bang into them.  It goes without saying, the less you move furniture, rugs the better. If you do not want to padding furniture and corners with bubble wrap taped around table legs, wall or cabinet corners, etc. You might also look at batting from the fabric store, or foam pipe insulation, from the home center plumbing dept. You might even have many of these items already in your home.


Another great tool to use on most dogs especially out side are special custom made vests.lilyhalo



Littlest Angel Vest: Wait on using the vest. Give the dog time to learn on his own. That will build his confidence. (It hurts you more than him.) He should be able to get around in his own home without help. Use the vest outside and in unfamiliar areas. The vest should be an aid, not a crutch. If your dog runs into things in unfamiliar areas, use a Littlest Angel Vest  (Halo harness )to protect the head/nose.


Some other helpful ways to help your dog adjust.

We have also come across other simple yet effective ways to help our blind dogs while they are adjusting to their new environment.


Ring a dingle Bells on your pants leg, will help the dog know where you or other members of your family are. This can be a homemade band, with bells to slip on humans when outside, or while the dog is  first learning his way inside the home. Bells on other animals in the house help your blind dog learn the habits of others.

 Provide a base.

Keep a bed in rooms where the dog is  the most comfortable. You might want to place one in the bedroom and one in the family room. Many dogs prefer and need the safety feeling of protection that a crate with an open door provides. 


Locate something in the main area of the home that the dog can always hear. Your dog can orient himself to that. A small clock that actually works well.

Many people leave radios on near dog beds in other places in the home. The sound of a TV will be used also for dogs learning thier way around the house.

Textured mats under food and water bowls.

 You should also consider mats in doorways this help orientate them to where the door opening is.

 Mats are very helpful as "landing pads"

A landing Pad should be an anchor in each room. This pad or bed is placed in a familiar place, for a small dog that is often picked up.  Remember not to pick up a small dog, carry around, then put it down anywhere, they will be lost. That is where a landing pad become so important. Small pet beds can also be used as landing pads in rooms the dog is usually in. You might use one particular scent under the bed to make it easier to find. Be sure to always place the dog on the landing pad. Another thing to consider is orientating the dog in the same direction whenever put down.

To keep from startling a dog.
Try to speak to or lightly blow on the dog (not in its ear) before touching.

Many of our dog owners have suggested ways to help with anxiety that your dog may exhibit using products like Flower Essences (Anaflora for your dog, Bach for you and/or your dog) can help.

Anxiety Wrap can take the edge off so some Thundershirt works the same way as an anxiety wrap.

Many Blind dogs enjoy playing and here are some ideas for you to try.
Emphasize sound and smell. Roll-A-Treat Ball (dispenses treats as it rolls),  balls and toys, such as Play-N-Speak Interactive Dog Toys, with recordings in them (NOT unattended), scented balls & toys. many new toys are coming into the market almost daily.  You can make your own toys, using plastic water bottles filled with kibble as a throw toy that might be just as fun for you dog. A long hall makes a good "runway" for a game of fetch.  A large rigid plastic pool with a large ball in it to chase round and round.



Outside for safe exercise, I used with Bandit a long 'training" lead. He loved being able to run in long safe circles. He and I both soon learned how to keep the lead taunt enough that he could tell when we were going to turn. By using the same words "Turn" or "Run"  or "Walk".  We soon had a safe method for him to exercise. He loved running. His head would come up, you could see almost a smile on his sad face. This was one period of time when he could be free, confident and almost joyful. He would run, sometimes for 5 or 10  minutes. I would have to slow him down just to get him to walk to do his business.