Tips on Caring for and Training a Blind Dog

ffac151f-0247-4040-ba24-a9af9c1ac28cBy Laurie Darroch

Blind dogs may find ways to adapt to being partially or fully blind on their own, but might also need help adjusting in a world where visual cues are one way of communicating and getting around. A blind dog can present a special challenge in training and daily living, but you can make life easier for them by using some tips to help them adjust and cope.

Alternative Senses Cues

Because a blind dog cannot respond to hand signals and other visual cues, focusing on the functional senses they do have and using those productively when training the dog is key. Using a consistent sound in training will let them know precisely what they need to do. Try using a clicker or rattle to guide, and some healthy, natural CANIDAE dog treats as a reward when they achieve each step in their training and to help them cope daily even after they have learned. Like any other dog, it may take some practice to help them understand and learn. Be patient.

Blind dogs can be taught to use sense of smell as a guide, but it’s a good idea to use that in a very specific way. Anything with a smell leaves trails of scent, and blind dogs do not have the added benefit of vision to sort out the mixed cues. If you use a scented cue, place the object at the spot or target you want the dog to focus on. Don’t move it around or toss it since the scent travels around in the air as well, which can confuse your dog.

Blind dogs can also use touch, smell and feeling with their muzzles, paws and bodies to determine where they are and what is around them. As they are learning to cope with blindness, you can help by guiding them to specific places and using a guide word for each thing, such as bed, food, step up or down.

In the beginning, think like you were blind too and learning to cope. Put yourself in their position and walk the house with the dog to see what they may need help with.  Cover dangerous or sharp parts of furniture. Use a child gate on steps to keep them from falling down them. As they learn to cope without vision, they will map the house with their senses until they learn and are comfortable enough with their surroundings to get around easily. If you change things around in your home, guide the dog around to learn the new placement of things so they don’t get confused or injured.

Simplify Verbal Commandscebed1f7-d2f1-4ac4-91ca-cc81838b1c7a

Keep your commands and guide words simple, so the dog knows precisely what they need to do or not do and where they need to go or not go. Establish a specific command word that lets them know they are in danger and immediately stops them from an accident or injury.

Consistency

Be consistent when you are guiding or training a blind dog. The consistency will give them a sense of security and help lessen any possible confusion. Repetition and consistency in training gives the dog structured guidelines. Once they associate certain sounds, verbal cues and smells with specific needs or requests, they will easily find their way around daily activities and your home. Be sure to include all family members or housemates in the training and learning the various commands and cues.

If you want to try a little experiment to give you an idea of how the world seems to a blind dog, turn off all the lights at night time and walk around the house in the dark. You will quickly learn what obstacles your dog may need help with to overcome.

Blind dogs can lead very normal lives. The added training you do as a responsible pet owner will make life more pleasant and easier for both of you. Love is blind!

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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How the Domestication of Dogs Changed Civilization

civilization shenandoahBy Linda Cole

For centuries, dogs have been used by humans to do a variety of jobs. Before the invention of gunpowder and firearms, canines were instrumental in helping hunters put food on the table and protect their family. However, the greatest and most significant impact of dog domestication was how it changed human civilization.

History is an intriguing and complicated mixture of stories passed down from generation to generation, and documented accounts preserved in paintings, sculptures, ancient writings and cave drawings. Archaeological discoveries add important information about events that took place thousands of years ago to help scientists unfold the why, where, when and how.

When we use the word “theory” it means an idea or hunch about something. In the scientific community, theory is how researchers interpret facts. During the very early years, our closest now-extinct human relative, Neanderthals, and modern humans (Homo sapiens) co-existed for a time in Europe and Asia after humans migrated from Africa into Neanderthal territory. Both used fire and tools, and were expert hunters, but Neanderthals became extinct while humans flourished. The general consensus as to why Neanderthals died out is believed to be climate change which caused changes in the environment that Neanderthals couldn’t adapt to.

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6 Jobs Cats Would Fail Famously

cat jobs bnilsenBy Rocky Williams, feline guest blogger

Awhile back in 10 Purrfect Jobs for Cats, I discussed careers that would suit a feline’s nature. Because every job seeker – cats included – must be aware of their shortcomings as well as their strengths, I decided to explore a few careers that felines would fail famously. I should add a disclaimer though: some of these job fails might only apply to me, i.e. all cats might not be as unemployable as yours truly.

Laundry Folder

Imagine the scene: a huge pile of a freshly laundered clothes and towels is laid out on a table, ready to be neatly folded and put away. What would any cat do? We’d climb right to the top of that pile and proceed to catnap for hours, that’s what!

Butler or Maid

We cats do not wait on people. Ever! Can you imagine? Even if we had opposable thumbs and could admirably perform the duties of a butler or a maid, I don’t know a single feline who would. Our view of the world is that we are the ones to be waited on hand and paw by the humans, and this has worked quite well for us for eons. What fool would ever challenge that?

Supermodelcat

When my human aims her camera at me, I turn my head. I can’t help it! Catching sight of the flashy beast triggers some sort of reflex, as though I’ll be turned to stone if I actually look straight at it. So the major reason by human never shares photos of me here or on her Facebook page is that 99% of them are of the back of my head. A profile photo of me is a stroke of luck, and a full on, look at the camera pose is as rare as an albino alligator (look it up!)

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Bathing Tips for Dogs with a Skin Condition

bath tonyBy Langley Cornwell

If you have a dog with sensitive skin or a predisposition to skin conditions, you may have fallen into this circular trap – you need to bathe him more often because of the condition but the more you bathe him, the worse his skin condition seems to get. That’s because a regular dog bath can exacerbate his problem. Dogs with acute allergies or a propensity for other skin conditions need special care when receiving a bath.

Symptoms and Causes

In many cases, you will know if your dog is suffering from a skin condition simply by looking. Excess hair loss or bald spots are an indication of a problem, as are dry, flaky patches, scabs or rashes, lumps and bumps or anything out of the ordinary. If there are no visual indications, but you notice your dog chewing, scratching or licking himself excessively, then a skin condition may be the issue and you should make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the cause of the skin condition and the best treatment plan.

A variety of things can cause skin conditions for dogs. The most obvious reason is fleas and/or an allergic reaction to them. Other external parasites could also be the culprit. It could be a result of an infection, hormonal or metabolic issues, allergies, yeast overgrowth, stress and boredom, or even a reaction to the shampoo or grooming products you are currently using on your pet.

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Can Dogs Recognize an Angry or Happy Human Face?

dogs recognizeBy Linda Cole

We can usually tell what kind of mood a person is in by observing their body language, facial expression and tone of voice. It’s an ability only seen in humans and one other species – dogs. But do canines know when we are happy or angry just by looking at our face? According to a new study, the answer is yes; your dog knows if you are giving them a smile or a frown!

Researchers in Vienna, Austria put 11 dogs through a series of tests to see if canines can recognize a happy or angry face by looking at images. The dogs were never shown the entire face of the person, and could only see either the top half of the face or the lower half. They could only make their decision by viewing the person’s eyes or mouth.

To begin the study, each dog was trained to correctly pick out images of the same person with either a happy or angry face. The group of dogs included a Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Fox Terrier, Border Collies and mixed breed dogs. Half of the dogs received a reward for picking out a happy face, and the other half had to pick out the angry face to earn their reward. To make their picks, each dog had to tap the correct image on a computer screen with their nose. A correct tap sent a treat down a tube to the dog.

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How Dogs Use Their Paws to Communicate

dog paw larkynBy Laurie Darroch

Dogs have many non-verbal ways of communicating with us, including the use of paws to get a message across to their human companions or even to other animals. Paws are much more than merely the part of their body used to walk on; their use has an individual language all its own. We just need to learn how to understand that method of communication.

Pay Attention to Me!

Dogs are much like small children. Sometimes they simply need our attention for a myriad of reasons ranging from wanting some play time or affection, to letting you know they want some one on one time. Dogs like to be included in whatever is going on. How many times have you seen a child tugging on her mom’s clothing or poking her to get attention? It is the same for your dogs. They use their paws to say “Here I am! Pay attention to me!”

I’m Sorry

If you’ve ever had to scold your dog or put them in time out for bad behavior, the reprimand is often followed by some sort of apology. There might be suddenly contrite behavior or even calmly placing a paw on your arm, lap or leg immediately following the scolding. They are trying to say “I’m sorry” in their own way. Dogs follow their instincts and may become rascals when temptation is too much. They sense when they have behaved badly by reading your body language and hearing the tone of your voice, but also by training. It is hard to resist that plaintive look accompanied by a gentle paw placed on you. They are asking for reassurance when they paw you after they have been bad.

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