So you just got a blind puppy and not sure what to do…what to expect…don’t know if this little thing will have a happy life?
Well for the most part a blind puppy is not that much different from a sighted puppy. Most blind puppies are born blind so this is the way the world is to them. They come into the world depending on their other senses from the very start, and those senses very often become even keener. So emphasise their other senses of smell, hearing, taste, and touch in the training of your puppy.
Toys that make noises or have a scent are the best for them to “find”. There are a lot of toys made now that make all kind of noises from. There are also toys that wiggle and vibrate for blind/deaf puppies.
Sadly I’ve heard of puppies are taken away too soon from their mothers and littermates when it’s found out they’re blind. This in turn may cause various problems dealing with socialisation, “puppy” biting, and not knowing how to play either, with another animal, or with toys, because puppies learn a lot from both their mother and littermates. So for these little guys you may have to act as their littermate/mother and teach them the dos and don’ts, and how tos.
Socialisation is extremely important and shouldn’t be avoided but encouraged even more with your blind pup with both other dogs and people. However, special considerations and precautions should be used, since even though you may have a little guy now, what you teach them now will be with them their whole life.
Don’t let dogs or people approach your dog too fast. Let your dog ease into the situation by letting them smell the person’s hand or dog before being touched by them. Some blind dogs can develop “startle” aggression when approached to fast or grabbed/touched by surprise.
Start from day one talking to your pup. With a blind baby its very important that you vocalise to them. This will not only help them to find you, but you can also help them to avoid obstacles. Examples would be:
- “Step” – to let them know where steps are
- “Watch” – when they are going to bump something
- “OK” – to let them know they’ve got a clear path
Having others talk to your blind pup will also give them security and trust in other people.
Blind dogs do seem to develop separation anxiety more easily than a sighted dog…this is maybe more “our” fault than the dogs though. We tend to want to coddle and pamper a blind pup/dog thinking they can’t or shouldn’t be left alone. With a pup you can restrict the area they are in to an exercise pen or to one room when gone and gradually increase the area as the dog becomes more secure and confident.
Touching and massage can be an important tool. Even with dogs that loss their sight later in life, touching and massaging makes them more confident and content. With a puppy it can do the same and also help create a more social pup.
A lot of people wonder if getting a sighted dog will help their blind dog. It’s really not an easy question to answer, since every dog is different. It really has more to do with the personalities of each dog as opposed to the ones blindness.
If you do have multiple dogs already they can help your blind one. Its not uncommon to hear of sighted dogs leading, looking out for and guiding the blind ones as if they knew they couldn’t see. Many people with multiple dogs find putting bells or noisy tags on the sighted dogs collar helps guide the blind one.