Is it cruel to keep a blind dog? This is a question that I can honestly say that I hadn’t considered. So I was quite surprised when a fellow dog walker mentioned that some people would put their dog to sleep if they went blind. She said my blind Husky Luna was an excellent example of how well blind dogs can cope. I have to agree with her.
As long as your dog is still enjoying its life and is otherwise healthy, it is not cruel to keep a blind dog. Sight is not a dog’s primary sense. Instead, a dog relies on its nose and hearing before its eyes. Therefore, a blind dog can do as much as a sighted dog with the proper training and guidance.
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Can A Blind Dog Enjoy Life
From my experience with my blind Husky, I would have to say yes; a dog can still live a full, rich life without its sight. If you saw my Husky, you wouldn’t instantly know she was blind. She moves around very confidently and listens to verbal cues. Luna can walk on-lead, go off-lead, play with other dogs, run and swim. Her life hasn’t changed since she lost her sight completely in 2021.
With my blind Husky Luna, we don’t always stick to the same walks, either. Instead, we explore new places and different types of terrain. Having your dog well trained to vocal cues is essential when they are blind. Not only do the verbal cues keep them safe, but it also allows them to maneuver confidently.
Are Dogs Sad When They Go Blind
My Husky had primary glaucoma, so she lost her first eye in 2019 and her second in 2021. Unfortunately, the eye specialist told us she would lose her second eye within a few years. Luckily we had this time to really work on the directional training cues.
Being forewarned about Luna going blind gave us this time to prepare ourselves and get the training embedded. I think because of the constant directional cue training, when Luna went blind, it didn’t have a massive impact on her. We carried on with her usual routine of daily walks and treated her normally.
From my experience of having a blind dog, I can say that my dog did not become sad when she went blind. The only way her life has changed is that she is no longer in pain with glaucoma.
However, I know that some dogs can become sad, depressed, or anxious when they become blind. This does not need to be a permanent state for the dog. Some simple adjustments can reassure your dog that they are safe, and there are things you can do to encourage them to enjoy life again.
How Can I Build Up My Blind Dog’s Confidence
Sometimes if a dog suddenly loses its sight, it can adversely affect the dog’s confidence. The dog can become anxious and sad. However, there are some things that you can do to reassure your dog and help them rebuild its confidence.
- Always announce yourself to the dog as you approach; make sure everyone who comes into contact with your dog announces themselves
- Always use a happy, upbeat tone of voice; let your dog know that you are pleased with them
- Vocalize everything! Get your dog used to hearing directional cues, approaching them, if you are going to pet them or brush them
- Introduce simple scent tracking games to encourage your dog to play and use their nose
- Buy a ball with a bell inside so that your dog can chase it
- Use different scents or flooring for different rooms to help orientate your pup
- Always have the food and water bowls in the same place
- Try not to move the furniture at home – your pup will have a mind-map of the layout
- Use a harness and shorter lead to help guide your dog on walks
- You can teach simple directional cues using treats and saying the cues as the dog is doing them, e.g., Left, right, walk on
- You can also teach up step and down step by placing a treat on the step and encouraging your dog to follow their nose up the steps, saying up step each time they go up a step. The same method can be used for down step
- Always go at your dog’s pace, don’t rush them. By going at their pace, you set them up for success, which will build their confidence
- Try not to lift your dog; allow them to find their independence and do things for themselves
- Don’t treat your dog differently. They will adjust quickly if you allow them to
- Continue with your walking routine, if your dog is happy to carry on their walks
- Comfort your dog when they need it
The most important thing you can do for your dog is to give them time to adjust. Keep things at their pace and try not to rush. They will let you know when they are ready to go further.
We were amazed by how quickly our Husky Luna adjusted to being completely blind. She was keen to go on walks; she wandered around our house without any problems. However, she did startle easily if someone approached her and touched her without announcing themselves first.
Before she had her stitches removed, she wanted to go off-lead in the woods. Luna had no eyes, but she sat and glared at me to let her off. At that point, I didn’t want her to burst her stitches; she was supposed to have calm walks.
However, once she had her stitches out and wanted to go off-lead, I let her. I simply cannot describe the awe I felt watching her navigate through the woods. Her resilience and confidence blew me away! I can honestly say that Luna’s quality of life hasn’t changed since going blind.
Luna goes for walks, hikes, swims, and plays with other dogs. However, her nature hasn’t changed either. Luna is still a confident dog; if anything, Luna is more relaxed now because she is no longer in pain. It honestly didn’t occur to me to put her to sleep or rehome her because she had gone blind. Luna is part of the family; Ohana means family, and no one gets left behind!
Without a doubt, I can say that having a blind dog isn’t cruel. A blind dog can still live a rich life if its guardian is willing to make some minor adjustments and put in some time and training with them. But that is true for a sighted dog as well as a blind dog. You get out what you put in. If you put in the time and effort, you are rewarded with a loyal and loving dog.
Good luck, and I hope you found this article helpful. #blinddogsrock