Have you adopted a dog that turned out to be blind? Or perhaps your pet has lost their vision unexpectedly? Has your dog just been sentenced to fail in training? Absolutely NOT! Don’t let blindness put a label on your dog that they are hopeless, clumsy, and worse than others. A blind dog has suffered a tragedy, but that doesn’t make them less valuable or intelligent. Together with your pet, you can still achieve everything that people and dogs with functioning eyesight accomplish. However, you need to keep a few essential points in mind while training a blind dog. You will find them in this article.
What Is Important in Training a Blind Dog?
Before you ask your dog anything, try to put yourself in their shoes. If your pup has been healthy so far and has recently lost their eyesight, give them time to find their way in the new circumstance. Starting training at such a time can overwhelm your dog. Their world has changed 180 degrees – this is enormous stress!
Before you decide to start training a blind dog, ensure that your pet is familiar with their new living conditions. Be supportive. Arrange the home space so that it is safe for them. Walk them around the house again to create a new map in their mind. Praise and reward them when they start to move around independently. Don’t shout or punish them when they knock over a vase or a chair. Allow them to make mistakes; they are just discovering their new life.
If a pup has been blind since birth, it means that they have already learned to live without seeing images. They have already built up functioning patterns. Try to observe your pet for a while. Notice whether they pay more attention to sounds or smells – which of these are most interesting to them? Observe what your dog finds most challenging and what is trivial for them. It is an important step towards adjusting the difficulty of the tasks to your dog’s abilities.
One way to support a blind dog during training is to introduce them to audio cues. Audio cues can be used to get your dog’s attention, as well as to guide them. For example, you can use a clicker to signal to your dog that they have performed a correct behavior. You can also use different tones of voice to indicate different commands. Suppose you want your dog to stop or slow down. In that case, you can use a lower tone of voice, while a higher tone of voice can signal them to continue. In this way, your dog can learn to rely on their hearing and develop a strong sense of trust with you.
2. Improving Your Dog’s Self-Esteem
Sometimes blind dogs suffer from low self-esteem. Especially if the blindness appeared suddenly, such a pet is usually lost. They hear a lot of sounds, smells a lot of smells, but they can’t see where they are coming from. Wouldn’t you feel disoriented too? Before a dog gets used to a new situation, they will experience a lot of stress. That’s natural. Without a doubt, this can negatively affect their self-esteem. In addition, low self-esteem in dogs leads to many behavioral problems, including separation anxiety or aggression towards other dogs, animals, and people. Sound scary? Calm down; you can prevent it!
Try to lower your dog’s emotional level daily and reduce their stress. To get a calm and balanced pet, take care of all their basic needs.
Appropriate quantity and quality of walks
A daily dose of exercise is extra endorphins and a great way to tire your pet out. Make sure your walks are diverse and exciting. Allow your dog to pick up scents freely.
Proper quantity and quality of sleep
Good, deep sleep allows the body to regenerate and reduce cortisol levels in your pet’s body. Your dog should have their bed/kennel in a quiet part of the house. Remember never to disturb their rest.
Opportunity to have fun together
Nothing lifts the mood like a good time. Give your dog a little joy, and it will take away all the tension. You can, for example, organize a game of tug-of-war together. Check the DOGO app to see how to do it.
Satisfying the daily need for sniffing and chewing
Chewing and nibbling on chews is very exhausting and calming. Sniffing activities, on the other hand, improve your pet’s self-esteem in addition to calming them down. How does it work? It’s enough to organize a game where your dog has to use their sense of smell to find hidden treats. Finding food on your own is very encouraging! And besides, it’s an excellent activity for blind dogs. It allows them to improve their other sense, that of smell! It will be instrumental in training together.
Learning is very pleasant and rewarding for dogs. However, it is essential to remember to make it an enjoyable and positive process. So how do you make this process enjoyable for a blind dog? Read on!
Calm atmosphere while leaving alone
Blind dogs can feel anxious when left alone, which can lead to destructive behaviors such as chewing furniture, digging holes, or barking excessively. To prevent this, you can try using calming aids such as pheromone diffusers or music therapy. Pheromone diffusers mimic the natural calming scent produced by a mother dog to soothe puppies. They can help to reduce anxiety levels in your pet and make them feel more secure. Music therapy has also been shown to have a calming effect on dogs. You can play classical music or nature sounds to create a relaxing environment for your pet.
3. Building the right relationship based on trust
An essential first step to training a blind dog is to build the right relationship with them. You need to earn their trust! Make them feel safe, comfortable, and at ease in your company. Try to show them support in difficult, stressful situations. Don’t yell at them when they are struggling with something. Be patient! Spend time with them in creative and exciting ways. Introduce a lot of joy and fun into your relationship. It will make your dog want to interact with you.
To build a strong bond with your blind dog, you can try introducing them to new smells and textures. Blind dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to navigate the world. Therefore, you can use scents to create positive associations and stimulate their senses. You can introduce new smells by using essential oils, spices, or herbs. You can also let your dog explore different textures such as different types of fabrics, toys, and surfaces. This can help to keep them mentally stimulated and engaged.
4. Turn your dog’s dysfunction into their strengths
Blind dogs can excel in many activities, such as scent work, tracking, and obedience training. You can enroll them in classes specifically designed for blind and visually impaired dogs to learn new skills. These classes can help to build your dog’s confidence and provide them with socialization opportunities. You can also introduce your dog to new environments to challenge their skills. For example, you can take them on a hike or to a new park to expose them to new sights, smells, and sounds. This will help to keep them mentally stimulated and engaged. Remember, a blind dog can achieve anything that a sighted dog can with the right training and support.
Don’t focus on the fact that your dog has lost their sight. Remember that they still have two valuable senses – hearing and smell. Usually, when a dog loses their sight, their other senses sharpen. Take advantage of it! In the DOGO app, you can introduce all commands by guiding your dog to the correct position with a treat. Your dog doesn’t need to see the treat to follow it – they need to smell it. Make sure the treat’s smell is intense. If you have observed your dog before, you know which scents are most attractive to them. According to our instruction, you can add verbal commands to the exercises, to which the dog should react in the final result of the training. If you additionally use a clicker for training, you will make the dog’s task easier!
What is a clicker, and how does it work?
It is a device that, when pressed, emits a specific “click.” The most important thing is to teach your dog that they get a reward after every click. Then the clicker will be synonymous with the appearance of something pleasant. When teaching your dog, it helps to point out what they get a reward for precisely. For example, if you guide the dog to the “sit” position, you should click exactly when the dog performs the task – in this case when they touch the floor with their back. The dog will hear the sound they associate with the reward at the exact time they sit down. By doing so, they will associate the reward with that particular position, and what follows? They will perform it more willingly and more often. In the DOGO app, you will find a virtual clicker that you can use.
Ultimately, a blind dog should respond to your verbal commands. For obvious reasons, gesturing will not be necessary. Therefore, make sure that the commands you say are intoned in various and interesting ways. Dogs pay much more attention to high-pitched tones. Do not forget to give enthusiastic praise to your pet.
While training a blind dog, Remember to adjust the expectations of your dog according to their abilities. If you expect the impossible from them, you will create demotivating pressure. Such training is not enjoyable or effective. Instead, enjoy the process of learning together. Support your dog and appreciate any progress you manage to make. Good luck!