February 8th 2009 9:02 am
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Well it seemed a good time to post this with Pugsident Irving loosing his sight after too much anesthesia. I wrote an article for blinddogs.com when Linda Glass was still alive. I tried to recreate the most important stuff here for our puggie pals just in case someone needs it.
We just heard that Irving has recovered his sight!!! Yahoo, Yippee!!!
We are delighted that Irving wont need this but perhaps someone else can use it, so here tis....
Our Beloved Pugsident has joined Onry & many friends at the bridge since this post, but we know there are still many blind dogs out there who may need some tips. Right now Cooper de Duper (think Barney) a one eyed, vision impaired in the other Bloodhound who weighs in at 135 & sports a 44" chest is thriving & learning with this method, so THIS IS NOT FOR PUGS ONLY.
This is good to keep on file just in case. I also do this stuff with my sighted pugs because eye injuries in pugs are all too common.
If this seems long and alot to do. Let me assure you these things become routine quickly. You take doing them for granted in a very short time.
First and foremost, your pet’s blindness is harder on you than on them. Sight is the third choice of senses for dogs, first comes smell then hearing. Blindness is totally different for them than us, UNLESS, you are so anxious about their condition that you pass on those negative feelings.
Your dog has scent markers all over your home and yard, more than you ever want to know about. After the initial shock, your dog will resume using those markers to locate.
Use a leash, even indoors for a while. You on the other end of that leash is a big reassurance of safety to your pug. A traffic lead is great at first, short and close to you. If you don’t want to buy one, use a rubber band to take up the excess on your regular leash.
Try to keep your dogs schedule and life the same as usual. Walks, play dates, car rides, pug meetups, visits to the neighbors or family, and all his normal activities should continue or your dog may become depressed.
Snap your fingers to lead your dog on an on leash or off leash tour of the house/yard etc. If he can’t find something (food, water, bed, toy, the back door) DONT TAKE IT TO HIM OR CARRY HIM TO IT. Guide him to it by snapping fingers to guide him. Tap your foot on the floor to point out food he may have dropped or a toy on the floor.
Snap your fingers or slap your thigh/hip as you walk your dog outside. To this day I can’t walk a dog off leash without snapping my fingers. I alternated hands so my pugs have a center location for me. Left hand snap, Right hand snap etc. I really advocate the snap over the slap, because as you & your dog age and hearing fades, a sharp snap is easier to hear and easier on the hip/thigh.
Establish a safe comforting haven for your pug. Place a small bed or blanket next to his water & food bowls TEMPORARILY. This gives him a home area from which to explore. Having the food and water handy is a reassurance, especially to a pug, and also makes this point easier to find. This all adds up to increased exploring in the early days of blindness or a move to a new home.
Use baby gates or other methods to block stairs. Do not assume a newly blinded pug will not try the stairs and fall.
Outdoors, use a leash in your yard or usual walk route while practicing your own, or the safety cues below. Also invest in a leash splitter if you have two or more dogs. The proximity of a buddy is an invaluable confidence builder and will teach the second dog to be a better guide. The guide dog will also learn the cues which may someday be invaluable, especially if he is also a pug.
Do NOT treat your blind dog like an invalid. You must adopt the attitude that this is perfectly normal for your dog to adopt the same attitude. Dogs CAN THRIVE despite blindness.
Blind-proof any obstacles and architectural features that may result in a fall. Basement window wells can be covered with plywood, stairs can be blocked, doors that swing inward should be left closed at first unless the open up flat against a wall
Put a wind chime on each porch or at each door to help your pet find the way in. Jingle the chime when you call him. You may want to add a wind chime temporarily in your kitchen to use at mealtime for a while.
If your dog sleeps in your bed consider a ramp, not those stairs on tv. 4” sides are adequate for a blind pug, carpet is mandatory to leave a good scent trail & to give your pug secure footing even when sleepy. If anyone wants a photo of mine, let me know. Onry used it for 5 ½ years and sighted Sapphire, Bandit & Hilde all like using it. To make one requires minimal skill, little lumber and about 3 carpet squares or a small carpet remnant (the size which your local carpet dealer usually throws away). If you want to build one, I can provide the dimensions of mine. If you wish to purchase one, I can look at it or recommend one. Mine was bought on ebay from a seller who gave a discount to all rescues & rescued dogs. Also good is to place some old pillows or couch/chair cushions next to the bed in case of a night time fall.
Use your voice to let your pug know you are coming. REQUIRE children to do so also, a startled dog may bite.
If your dog sleeps in a crate either remove the crate door OR turn it on its side and tie the gate open on top. These doors can really injure your pet if he walks into the edge.
Use a halter for better control for all breeds. In an emergency a halter provides a way to pick up your pug immediately or control a larger dog. Dogs on a halter (and a shortened leash) get used to subtle steering cues that aren’t apparent with a collar, even without any effort on your part.
Temporarily you may stiffen the leash with a lightweight pipe or a shower bar cover if you want to actively steer your pug. I have never done this myself but some people find it helpful.
You can make a blind dog hoop fastened to a leather halters side straps to give your pet a heads up that an object is ahead or to the side. I made one for Onry but she preferred her e-collar for exploring and learning the layout of the house and yard. Her e-collar was sufficient to keep her safe except from thorny bushes. Her e-collar also saved her life when she decided to check out the toilet and fell in head first. We stored the e-collar flat on a nail in the wall and got it out for each furniture rearrangement. You can move furniture with a blind dog in the house! Trust me, I get restless and it’s easier and less trouble to rearrange the house than move. Hoops can be made or bought. Vest Hoops are also available online.
This is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself and your pet. Learned safety words will give reassurance to you as well as your pug, keep them safe even off leash and allow them to run and behave like they used to even in strange settings.
You MUST be consistent in using the same word for the same thing EVERY TIME. It doesn’t matter what words you use so pick ones that come naturally to you
Some of mine are:
STOP: use to mean stop immediately, danger ahead. Giving this command with a sharp tug on the leash will result in quicker learning unless you regularly give sharp tugs.
WAIT: use for longer non-danger stops, like emptying the mailbox, chatting with a neighbor, waiting for the walk signal etc.
EASY: use as a cautionary command to slow up a running or walking pug Also use this to cue your dog into the fact that a non-danger stop is imminent, IE approaching a street corner where you will cross the road.
STEP UP: use for each and every individual step at first. Later on, on stairs your dog uses regularly, you can use step up once or STAIRS to indicate a whole flight that he is familiar with. ALSO use when approaching a curb you need to go up. I have seen dogs with scraped legs and chins from not receiving this simple cue.
GO FOR A RIDE, GET IN: Used to get into the car. For small blind dogs use to get them onto the vehicles floor, then use STEP UP to get them on the seat. Your blind dog may be more comfortable riding on the floor for a while as speed can be scary at first. A car harness is highly recommended for blind dogs as they are reassuring and prevent harm to your pug. I had a wreck with my first blind dog in 1970, well before car harnesses. She was so traumatized that she took off running, right into traffic. She escaped harm but was always secured after that. To secure her I used a short leash closed in the door.
STEP DOWN: use at curbs and stairs as above.
WE’RE HERE, GET OUT: May require two steps, one to the floor and the second to get out of the car. Later your dog will probably gain enough confidence to just jump out. If there is a curb in the way, pick the dog up or use a hand on the harness to guide him out.
WATCH OUT: I have been criticized for teaching this BUT there are hazards, obstacles, etc that occur that you don’t have a cue for. If a kid on a bicycle suddenly darts in front of you, if there is a chained dog baring his teeth in someone’s front yard, if anything unexpected pops up this is a good all purpose command to use.
TREE: use to indicate a tree either as an obstacle or a sniffing place or to indicate a place to go. Teach it even if your pug knows where the trees are because if he decides to tuck and run trees can hurt. If your pug loves to tuck and run try putting wood chip mulch or rubber weed rings around the trees and bushes. Texture can give clues as to obstacles & doorways.
FENCE: like tree fences hurt and can be peed on or sources of p-mail. Blind dogs do run, usually when you least expect it!
WALL: helpful to know at the vets etc.
DOOR: meaning you are going to hit a door or wait while I open the door.
Onry knew about a hundred and fifty safety & navigational words (and many more for food). Start with just the essentials for safety & navigation. Later add words specifically for your unique situation, ie: elevator, cow, pond etc.
Your blind dog may become a part of your calf. I had one that always leaned into my calf when walking anyplace other than in the house. When he passed away my calf felt naked and cold for months but sometimes I could still almost feel him.
If your pet takes up sleeping on your foot or leaning against you allow and encourage it. He is telling you this is secure for him, be flattered not annoyed.
If you have questions, concerns or something I havent addressed let me know. I love blind dogs and have over 30 years experience with them.
Onry's da momma, Daria
OOPS ALMOST FORGOT A VERY IMPORTANT LINK:
BUY TALKING, ANIMAL SOUNDS, OTHER SOUND TOYS THERE!
Bandit gives a 4 PAWS UP to the Deedle Dude Toys (all of em).
ENJOY! A blind dog is not a liability but a JOY & A PRIVLEGE
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Hello Donna Lee, I will take some photos later today and post them on Onry's Page tonight. I will show sides back and bottom so if you are looking to build one it will be easier to see the whole thing. Please p-mail me if you want measurements too. I've had a couple of strokes but hubby can measure for me. Good Luck with your new baby. Blind dogs really are a pleasure!
If I can be of any assistance please p-mail. Also, would you please send us a friend request so we can visit & welcome your new pug?
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