All dogs need physical and mental stimulation, regardless of their size, and dogs who are blind are often able to enjoy many of the same activities as their sighted partners with just a few extra considerations. Finding distracting activities for your dog can help to ease their anxiety as well as instilling confidence in your canine companion. Some of the activities that can help keep your blind dog occupied and entertained can include games and activities like hide and seek, agility training, and even tactile obedience training.
In some cases, particularly with elderly dogs or dogs with merle coloration, you will have dogs that are either deaf or hard of hearing as well. While many trainers will focus on either visual commands for deaf dogs or auditory commands for a blind dog, what to do if your dog has lost both senses is often overlooked. Even if you have a blind dog who’s hearing is intact, this type of training can be useful in situations in which the dog's owner is temporarily unable to speak or be heard as well, as can sometimes happen with a simple case of laryngitis.
Hide and seek has been a favorite childhood game that has been enjoyed by children worldwide in one form or another for hundreds of years, and it is a game that canines are uniquely equipped to play with us. Just because your pooch can’t see doesn’t mean that they can’t seek. While many dogs will use sight to help find you when playing this game, many dogs are more likely to rely on their sense of smell or sense of hearing to lead them to you. This game has the added benefit of helping your dog get used to navigating around furniture and other obstacles in their own territory in a fun and rewarding manner.
In most cases, dogs like toys. Sometimes they like to have toys that they can chew, other times they might prefer puzzle toys that make them think. Neither being blind nor small changes this desire and for the most part, doesn’t inhibit their ability to interact with the toy much at all. Dog toys not only entertain your dog, they help to stimulate their mind which can reduce anxiety and improve your dog's overall mood and disposition. This is often a good way to entertain your pup while you are busy attending to other things nearby and in some cases, toys can be comforting rather than stimulating.
Many small dogs very much enjoy swimming and in most cases dogs who have lost their sight or who never had it can also enjoy swimming in a safe and controlled environment. Blind dogs may have more difficulty navigating in the water and should always wear a life vest designed for dogs when swimming.
Taking a walk can be just as enjoyable for your unsighted pet as for sighted pets. Blind pets, especially those who are newly blind, may be startled by loud or unexpected noises, so a fairly quiet walk in the park may be a better choice than walking near a noisy road.
While it may seem like an activity that is beyond a dog without sight, several blind dogs have been taught to run an agility course either by vocal commands or in a few rare cases, by scent alone.
The quality of a dog’s life does not have to decline just because they lose the use of their eyesight. With just a few considerations, most blind dogs are able to do many of the activities that sighted dogs can by utilizing their sense of smell and sense of hearing to explore their world.