Your senior dog is beginning to walk more gingerly and run into things around the house; a visit to the vet determines that he is losing his sight and going blind. Or perhaps you have opened your heart and home to a special needs dog who cannot see at all or was born without eyes. How can you make sure that your dog is safe and unlikely to harm herself, especially when you aren’t at home to help guide her?
Crate training is a successful method often suggested for general training, behavioral, and safety purposes for dogs of all ages. When trained correctly, a dog can come to see the crate as a throwback to its ancestors’ den, a place that is entirely the dog’s own and entirely safe.
Crate training always takes some time, but with a blind dog, it can be more time-consuming and challenging. Ultimately, when done right, you can create a haven with a crate and keep your blind dog secure and comfortable.
While the main goal of crate training a blind dog is placing the dog in a safe location, consideration also must be given to the dog’s comfort and sense of security. Slow, measured training and a properly created environment will help eliminate any anxieties or fears your dog may have when alone and in an enclosed space.
A blind dog is liable to panic, thrash about, bark or whine, and possibly hurt herself if she is unfamiliar with or fearful of her crate. Be extra patient, gentle, and positive in helping your dog understand that the crate is a place that will be her own, full of creature comforts and smells that will encourage calm. Take care that the crate is structured in a way that will best assist your blind dog and not startle or hurt her at all. By following any of the training methods below, you will ensure that your dog is content and protected from harm.
First, have a crate that is appropriate for the size of your dog. You want a crate that allows your dog to stand up, lie down, and turn around without difficulty. Avoid purchasing a crate that is too large or too small as excessive or overly restrictive spaces will not feel comfortable to a blind dog--or any dog for that matter.
Certain objects that your dog might imprint on, like blankets, toys, your clothing, food, and treats can also be helpful during the training process. Also, make sure to keep the crate wherever you first place it. Avoid rearranging where the crate is located as that can confuse and upset a blind dog. Most of all, patience, understanding, and compassion are necessary to help your special needs dog live the happiest life possible.
My pup developed meningitis at 4 weeks. This resulted in her losing her sight and smell. These may come back, however I am struggling to get her comfortable enough to sleep in her crate without falling asleep on me first
Hello, be sure to ask your vet for assistance at any time if you are concerned about Maebh. She is very young to be away from her mom and siblings, so it is understanding that she wants a cuddle and warmth to fall asleep. I would personally indulge her once in a while, with all that she has been through. Let's hope her sight comes back. I have a dog without sight since birth - she has done just fine. Having Maebh around other dogs when her vaccines are up to date will be important so that she gains confidence and learns from other dogs how to have fun and be a dog despite the rough start. A suitable daycare now and then could do wonders. Ask your vet for recommendations on daycares. For tips on how to get Maebh to like a crate, take a look here and consider the Surprise Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate. Good luck!
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