CARING FOR A BLIND DOG

There are many different health issues that may arise in your dog’s later years, or sometimes even in his early ones. This can mean your dog going blind, for any number of reasons, includingProgressive Retinal Atrophy or injury. You may also find a loving dog at a shelter that is blind and think, I want him, but how do I take care of a dog who can’t see me? Here are some tips that will help you to better care for your blind dog.

Always walk your blind dog on a leash, especially if you do not have a fenced in back yard. Until you know that your dog is sure of his surroundings, even in the back yard, take him out on the leash. Take it slow. Walk him inside the house at first, then in the areas of yard he knows, progressing as he gains confidence.

Attach a bell, such as a common sleigh-style bell, somewhere on your clothing as a signal to your dog that you are around. Make sure all humans and pets that are in your home and have the possibility of coming into contact with your dog, also have a bell on them. Wear the bell all the time. If you don’t have one available at some point, make sure you speak to your dog while walking around your home, just so he knows where you are.

Put a safety gate in any entryway that you need to keep your dog away from, especially the top and bottom of any staircases. If you live in an apartment or home where you have to go up stairs to get in, walk your dog on a short leash or by the collar, until he gets used to the stairs. You nail or glue pieces of rug down at the top and bottom of the stairs so he begins to associate the change in feeling under his feet, to the beginning and end of the staircases.

Use different scents, like perfumes, candles, or other air fresheners, around your home in areas that your dog could lose his place and get hurt. Scent doorways and entryways, also if you have any low racks or a dog door. Avoid using the scent too much and in too many places, as this will confuse your dog. Many of the fabric items in your home will have their own scent that your dog will be able to pick up without your help. Try not to use aerosol air freshener in your home too often, as it will overpower the scenting of areas you have done for your dog.

Always keep your dog’s things in the same spot, which he will consider the home base. His food and water dish, and his bed, should be near to each other and not moved. Your dog will be able to better learn the layout of the home, if he has a starting point. On that same note, you should not move your own furniture around in your home when you have a blind dog, as this will confuse him and present potential dangers. Make sure low corners of tables or entertainment centers are padded, so your dog does not hurt himself by walking into them.

If your dog did not know a lot of commands in the past, now would be the time to start teaching him! If need be, crawl around on the floor with your pup and give names to anything he could run into and get hurt. Help him figure out the layout of the home and yard in this way. Avoid picking up your dog to help him. This can be alarming to a dog that is blind, and he will want and need to be able to get around independently.

Remember that your dog is capable of learning to navigate his world whether he is blind or has perfect vision. Although you may feel bad, avoid doing too much for your pup or babying him. Watch for potential dangers around the home or outside and make sure you keep your dog from them. Encourage independence and talk to your dog often. Announce yourself when approaching before touching your dog, so as not to startle him.

Using these tips will greatly increase your blind dog’s ability to enjoy and live a full life, and will increase your ability to enjoy it with him! For further information, we recommend checking out books for owner’s with vision-impaired dogs, and asking your veterinarian if they know of any local trainers who have experience working with blind animals.

IS YOUR COCKAPOO GETTING ENOUGH EXERCISE?

It is a well known fact that dogs, like their human owners, need to exercise to stay healthy. Cockapoos in particular have a lot of energy. Any dog can becomehyperactive, or develop behavior issues such asaggression, when they do not receive enough exercise.

Many owners do not have as much energy or time as their dog to go for walks, play, and do all the things their dog would like to do. Other owners (and even some dogs) have physical limitations, due to age, disability, or illness. Still more owners live in an area where exercising their dog is difficult, such as a small apartment in a busy city, or in a very hot or cold climate.

So what is the best, most convenient way for you to work out your cockapoo? And how do you know if he is getting enough exercise? While there is no “one size fits all” answer to the question, there are many things you can do to make sure your dog stays physically fit.

First, consider your dog’s weight and age, along with his physical disabilities. Is your dog overweight? Many are and their owners have no idea. In fact, as much as 40% of dogs in the US are obese. Find out if your dog is obese here. The link opens in a new window, so you can do this now if you like, or bookmark the page.

A good rule of thumb is that your cockapoo (and you) should receive at least 20 minutes per day of aerobic exercise. You’ll know your exercise is aerobic if it makes you slightly short of breath, to the extent that it would be hard to hold a conversation. Your dog may pant slightly, and will be focused on the exercise. Such activities can include walking, jogging, swimming, running and playing with a neighbor’s dog, or playing an active game such as fetch. Don’t overdo it: once your dog is tired, stop.

If your dog requires even more exercise, due to high energy levels, behavioral issues, consider some of these high-energy exercises. Throw a flying disc specially designed for dogs,like this one made by Kong, for him to run and catch, and make the sessions last until your dog is quite tired. Take him to agility training, a bonding experience where his wits and physical abilities will be tested. Consider going to a clean, well-regulated dog park so your cockapoo can play with other dogs, just make sure he is up to date on vaccinations and that you practice good hygiene (no drinking from other dog’s bowls, for instance.) You can purchase an inexpensive portable dog water bottle/bowl combo to keep your pet hydrated. Is your cockapoo too old or unhealthy for vigorous exercise? Consider brief swimming sessions with your dog, or take short walks together. These sessions should not be pushed further than your dog is comfortable with, but even 10 minutes per day of light aerobic activity is better than nothing.
If you cannot walk or swim due to disability, teach your dog to walk on a treadmill. This is also a good tip if you live in a small apartment in a bustling metropolis, work the night shift, or otherwise can’t take your dog for walks as often as you’d like. If you have a big yard or dog-friendly park nearby, take him out to play fetch. If you are too ill or busy to do even these things, please have a friend or dog-walker make sure the dog is getting at least one walk every day.

Do you live an active lifestyle? Include your dog! If you like to hike, take him on hikes with you. If you sail, teach your dog to be comfortable on a boat (with a flotation jacket and a leash, please.) Into cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing? The snow is great exercise, just be careful your pooch doesn’t get too cold or wet. Consider dog booties if your dog will be walking on snow, hot pavement or sand, or rough surfaces such as scree or gravel.

Use common sense. If it is hot where you live, exercise your dog early in the morning or after the sun has begun to go down and the weather is cool. If there is any danger to your dog in the are you are taking him, use a leash. Keep plenty of water on hand (for both of you.)

Follow these tips and you may find that your dog is happier, more well-adjusted, and healthier. You may even find that you are, too!