Table of Contents
- Blind Dog Training: Can a Blind Dog Be Trained?
- How Long Does It Take to Train a Blind Dog?
- 5 Useful Tips to Train Your Blind Dog
- Blind Dog Training: Final Word
Blind dogs and cats are just as loving and affectionate as their sharp-sighted counterparts.
While training one may seem difficult at first, it will become easier once you get the hang of it.
Owning a visually impaired pet is not for everyone but it is definitely an extremely rewarding experience.
In this article, we’ll be addressing the following questions:
- Can blind dogs be trained?
- How long does it take to train a blind dog?
- What are some tips and tricks you can use to simplify the process?
So, without further ado, let’s step into the world of dogs and learn more about man’s pawsome companion.
Blind Dog Training: Can a Blind Dog Be Trained?
Being visually impaired does not hinder a dog’s learning ability.
Their minds are more than capable of creating associations and acting accordingly.
While they may take comparatively longer to train than other dogs, there’s no data stating that they cannot grasp the instructions given.
All you need to do is to practice a little patience as they adjust to your verbal and physical cues.
So yes, blind dogs can be trained, provided you’re doing it right. There are systematic ways for encouraging suitable behaviors.
We’ll be discussing them in greater detail below.
How Long Does It Take to Train a Blind Dog?
The duration of training required for your blind dog will vary depending on factors such as breed, ability to learn, and the expertise of the trainer.
Since these factors are difficult to quantify, there is no definite answer to how long training will take.
It could take a couple of weeks or even 1-2 years.
5 Useful Tips to Train Your Blind Dog
While training blind dogs is possible, it can be difficult for someone without prior experience.
What you need here are easy-to-follow steps and strategies to encourage specific behaviors.
Here are the top 5 tips you can incorporate into your daily routine to make training easier for you and your pet:
1. Start With Small Spaces at First
Blind dogs will have a hard time navigating through the rooms and backyards of their new home.
They may bump into walls, doors, or even a random bag lying on the floor that you probably did not think much of.
We recommend mentally putting yourself in their shoes to get a better idea of potential dangers and challenges they may face.
A strategy here is to not expose them to the entire home or backyard initially.
Starting with one room will allow your dog to be familiar with everything in that particular room.
The process will be less overwhelming for them, and this will speed up the training process in the long run.
So, make sure that they feel comfortable and become well-acquainted with the placement of furniture and the design of one room before exposing them to other areas of the home.
Make it a gradual step-by-step process, so they don’t feel overwhelmed with too much information.
How long your dog will take to learn the various spaces will depend on the breed and the overall genetic makeup of your dog.
You can inquire about the previous owner or employees at the adoption center regarding your dog’s personality.
This will allow you to better understand and adjust to their nature, making learning and transitioning easier for both of you.
2. Use Clicker Strategy to Encourage Desired Behavior
Understanding conditioning is crucial for training any pet.
Realizing that you are the one encouraging or discouraging specific behaviors is essential.
Think of it this way: if you’re given a gift every time you perform a task, you will automatically want to do it more often.
This is because of the dopamine you get from the reward, and your mind will look for ways to replicate this.
By using the clicker strategy, you can motivate or discourage acts that you would like your blind dog to do.
“But what is clicker strategy?”, you might be wondering. Don’t worry, we’ll guide you through the process.
What Are Dog Clickers?
Simply put, clickers are small-sized plastic devices that make a sharp and distinct sound when clicked.
They are generally inexpensive and available in pet stores both online and in person.
How To Use Clickers in Dog Training?
Well, there are two ways you can do it. Firstly, by using dog treats as a reward for performing tasks.
For example, let’s suppose you want your dog to sit. Hold your dog’s favorite treat in your hand.
Say the word “Sit” and as soon as he gets on his hind legs, press the clicker button.
Make sure you press the clicker as soon as the dog follows your command. Follow this with a treat.
When done repetitively, it will allow your dog to create a mental association between the clicking sound and treats.
You can apply the same trick when you want him to play with a toy or lie down.
Next up is reinforcement. Suppose you’ve been following this routine for a while.
If you want your blind dog to play with a toy, maybe he’ll start playing on his own too, without any command.
Here you should press the clicker whenever you see them playing and reward them with a treat.
Again, the clicker strategy is a simple, low-cost method of encouraging behaviors through positive reinforcement.
If your pet knows they’ll get to munch on their favorite snack after they perform an activity, obviously they’ll want to do it more.
Keep in mind the schedule of reinforcement is how much treats you give. This is very important.
How Many Treats Are Too Many Treats?
Remember: we are not asking you to shower your pet with his favorite snack all the time.
Over-eating can be harmful to your dog. It could potentially create stomach issues and even obesity in the long run.
As a rule, you can assign a 10 percent portion of your dog’s calorie intake to treats and divide them throughout the day.
It is also worth noting that certain dog breeds may have an increased susceptibility to weight gain.
To minimize the likelihood of any health concerns, make sure that you feed your pet nutritious and healthy treats.
3. Focus on Your Dog’s Other Senses
Generally, if an animal lacks optimum functionality in one sensory organ, the body compensates for it by sharpening the other senses.
This means that if your dog is partially or fully blind, it may have above-average smelling or hearing capabilities.
This is because it must rely on other senses for navigation which automatically makes them sharper.
This can be useful when training your blind dog to navigate certain areas or even help them distinguish objects easily.
Your blind dog’s sense of smell is likely to be strong. So, what you can do here is use certain scents for specific places.
For example, room #1 with his food and water, can have a hint of lavender.
On the other hand, room #2 with a spacious playing area, can have a trace of vanilla.
This will allow the dog to distinguish between different places easily. The process of navigation will become much easier.
Having scent-mapping on obstacles will decrease the likelihood of your dog running into doors and other objects.
Scents During Playtime
Playtime can be a tricky task for blind dogs. Since they cannot see, they may have a hard time locating where their toys are.
Regular physical activity is still a necessity for optimum health.
What you can do here is help create a mental association between the dog toys and specific scents.
While scent mapping can be done with lighter scents, this may require a relatively stronger one.
This is necessary for quick detection and chasing. Since the dog will smell it from afar, it will be able to chase after it.
Sense of Touch
Another thing you can do is use his tactile sense for easy identification of places throughout your home.
By placing rugs or mats with specific textures, you’ll be able to create a mental association between the place and how it feels.
You can place a small-sized mat at the entrance if you do not prefer a large rug.
Your dog will know where he is based on the texture of the surface.
Sense of Hearing
Adopting a blind dog is hard especially if you have other pets.
Your new pet may take time to adjust to other animals as their presence is a sudden change.
An easy trick here is to tie a bell around your other pets. The ringing sound may be sufficient to alert your new doggo.
They will learn to anticipate where everyone else is, based on the different sounds and movements.
4. Teach Commands to Make the Process Easier for Them
Teaching my dog to sit is the first thing I did when got her.
Since blind dogs cannot see, they’ll rely even more on verbal cues to understand what you’re saying.
“But why are commands essential?”, you might be wondering.
Well, creating an association between phrases and actions will make the entire process easier for your dog.
These instructions include commands related to:
- Stepping up the stairs
- Coming downstairs
- Turning right
- Turning left
- Introducing any new people, or other pets.
Using the same phrase every time you want to give one specific command will allow your dog to understand it with clarity.
For example, your dog may feel scared, startled, or overwhelmed if a hand randomly approaches to pet them.
By saying their name and enthusiastically asking “Who do we have here?” each time an outsider approaches, they’ll feel safer and more at ease.
They will anticipate petting every time the phrase is spoken.
5. Create a Safe Home Environment for Your Dog
Remember how our parents hid all knives, scissors, or other sharp objects away from us when we were kids?
Well, the same rules apply to your blind pet.
It is essential for them since they may hurt themselves by running into dangerous items accidentally.
Creating an environment that minimizes any potential injuries will include the following:
Look Out for Any Sharp Objects
Picture yourself as someone who cannot see well.
Think about how challenging it would be to avoid a table corner or a sharp object.
We recommend getting down to your dog’s level and then evaluating every square inch of your home.
Look for any corners, furniture, or objects that may prove to be dangerous.
Look Out for Any Sockets or Electrical Appliances
Being vigilant is key when protecting your blind pet. Someone at your home could be using a curling iron.
It may even be lying on the dresser unattended as they go into another room.
While it may just be a brief lapse, this could severely injure your blind pet.
Therefore, ensure that all seemingly harmless things that could be dangerous for your blind pet are safely tucked away.
Try Not Redecorating Your Home Too Often
Your blind dog will take his time learning the arrangement of your home.
Changing your home layout every couple of weeks or months will confuse your pet.
You’d have to take time re-teaching them where everything is.
While a change in settings may be inevitable at times, try not to overdo it.
You can also watch the following YouTube video to learn more about how you should care for a blind dog:
Blind Dog Training: Final Word
So, now we know that training blind dogs is possible and a surprisingly simple process.
While it may require extra hard work and patience, the bond formed with your doggo is worth it.
Do we recommend getting a blind dog? Well, yes, if you have the time and energy to invest in caring for someone who will reciprocate your love then go for it.
It depends on your lifestyle, affordability, and schedule. Just don’t let lack of sight become a deterrent.
You’ll be amazed at how this experience can open your mind to things you didn't notice before.