Blind Dog Tips

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Are you an owner of a newly blinded dog or have adopted a blind/ visually-impaired dog or puppy? If you are new to this situation, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed right now.

Regardless if you’re new or have been at this for awhile, there are many websites and message boards out there with support and information you need to help both you and your dog. If you’re new to this situation, rest assured it does get much better. Most dogs adjust well and lead happy near-normal lives. Before long you will be amazed at what a blind dog can do!

Just take a look at the wonderful Stevie The Wonder Dog, a therapy dog who was born without sight.

You’re not alone in your situation, although it may feel like you are right now. Finding websites like or is the first step to helping both you and your dog. If you are considering adopting a blind/visually-impaired dog and not sure what to expect, well for the most part a visually-impaired dog is not that much different than a sighted one, even if it’s a puppy. Most blind puppies are born blind so this is the way the world is to them.

When a dog looses their sight or was not born with sight, they come to rely on their other senses and often times these senses become even keener over time. So always emphasize their other senses of smell, hearing, taste and touch in your training of your blind dog or puppy.

Here are some tips to help you get started with your blind dog:

  1. Try not to move furniture around or leave obstacles on the floor

  2. 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 blind baby

  3. Emphasize the senses they still have:
    A blind dog/pup—their sense of smell, hearing, taste and touch
    A blind/deaf dog—their sense of smell, taste and touch (they can feel vibrations—especially when you walk)

  4. Ask people to let your dog “smell” their hand before touching them. Most blind dogs personalities don’t change. Some dogs however can easily become “startled” and this could  also lead to fear biting in some dogs

  5. 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 blind pup it can be the basis for what type of personality they will developed

  6. Coax, encourage and praise them to do the same things they did before. However, understand and still praise them if they “can’t”

  7. Be creative with different scents to mark areas for your blind babies—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

  8. 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

  9. Use bells or jingling tags on your other dogs not only help your blind babies 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

  10. Don’t be afraid to walk with a “heavy foot” when approaching them especially with a blind/deaf baby….they can still feel vibrations

  11. Don’t under estimate the power of touching and massage

  12. Be very vocal with your dog

  13. A tabletop fountain can be used as a water bowl. Get a simple one with a large bowl and the sound of running water helps to orient the blind dog and helps him to find his water bowl as well as know where he is from the sound. Some dogs like drinking from running water too! This can be especially helpful if you have to move to a new home with a blind dog

  14. Make sure your dog has a safe place to go. Jen Milner, Stevie’s mom, has a crate for him with a comfy bed in it. If anything is off in the house, like furniture rearranging or vacuuming, he’ll go hang out in it until things are back to normal.

  15. Clicker training is highly recommended with blind dogs. If you’re stuck on something, you can use the clicker noise to give him hints of what to do

“In general, positive training is really important with blind dogs,” Jen pointed. “It keeps them motivated and confident.”

Always remember, dogs that are blind generally cope with it better than their humans. They already have a much better nose and hearing than humans, so they are off to a good start. These senses will get even better with time. Time is important, for dog and human, it might take just days, and rarely it could be years.

For owners of newly blind dogs, it’s a horrible thing to go through. However, Lea Slaton, whose dog Peanut lost her sight due to a tick-borne disease, ehrlichiosis, said that Peanut’s dependence on her only makes the connection between them tighter. “I love both of my dogs so much, but the bond you form with one with an impairment is amazing,” she said.

“They trust you enough to run beside you, to step up when you step up. The blind trust they put in you is incredible.”  Owners of newly blind dogs need to hold on and let that develop. “The dog will adjust,” she said. “It’s not the end of the world.”

More tips & suggestions to help you and your blind dog: