Helping Blind Dogs Cope

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Mostly blind, Mini Schnauzer Sydney lived a full & happy life

Blind dogs or dogs visually impaired can still lead happy fulfilling lives. And although there will be many challenges ahead, you can make a big difference in helping your Miniature Schnauzer cope with his condition, through continuous training and a few lifestyle changes.

Also, remember your Schnauzer wants to be loved and cared for as always, but try not to over do it now. You don't want to express pity or coddle your Schnauzer. You want him to remain confident.

The best thing you can do to help your Miniature Schnauzer adjust to his limited vision or blindness in dogs, is help your Miniature Schnauzer learn new ways to manage day to day life on his own. Your Schnauzer will begin to rely more heavily on his keen sense of smell, taste, sound, and touch.... AND your Miniature Schnauzer will learn to adapt.

Below are some tips that can help you, help your dog with a vision impairment.

How to Help A Blind Dog Adjust

You can really help your dog by making just a few simple changes or adjustments in your home environment. Here are tips and suggestions to help you, help your dog.

Dog-Proof Your Home & Yard - Remove any objects from your home or yard or otherwise prevent access to them, that could pose a threat or harm to your Schnauzer. Make sure unused items are picked up off the floor so your Schnauzer does not trip or bump into them. Examine your backyard and take the necessary precautions outside as well. For example, do you have a rose bush (or some other thorny plant) that is at your Schnauzer's eye level? If so remove it or blanket it when your Schnauzer is outside. A dog that cannot see could easily scratch his cornea or hurt himself if he were to run into it. So get on all fours and check out the potential dangers inside and outside your home.

Rearrange Your Furniture - Although you want to keep things as normal as possible for your Miniature Schnauzer, you might need to rearrange your furniture a bit to help him out. By creating wider paths and/or removing any unnecessary pieces of furniture, your Schnauzer will be able to navigate through your home quite easily on his own. However, try and do this only once so your Schnauzer can feel confident in navigating around alone once he has familiarized himself with the new placement. Rearranging furniture too often can cause major dog anxiety and stress in dogs with limited eyesight.

Create a Pathway - Make paths for your Schnauzer by putting in place plastic floor runner so your Schnauzer can navigate more easily throughout your home. He will learn from touch and sound that he is on the right path.

Block Danger Zones - Limit access completely to potentially dangerous areas of your home (like the stairs) by installing baby gates. Also close doors to rooms that may prevent hazards to your Schnauzer. Rooms with lots of items, clutter, work areas, etc…

Create a Safe Place - Have a designated area in your home for your Schnauzer’s crate or a soft doggy bed where your Schnauzer can easily navigate to on his own when he feels the need for some alone time.

Also, always keep your Schnauzer's dog food dish and water bowl in the same area.

Keep Canine with Limited Vision on Leash - Whenever you go outside with your dog, be sure you have complete control of him at all times by keeping him on a leash (unless you are in your own fenced-in backyard). Even then you must be mindful of hot tubs, pools, playground equipment, or other items that could pose a threat to a dog with limited eyesight or blindness in dogs. Never walk your Schnauzer off leash or let your Schnauzer loose in unfamiliar areas. And be sure your Schnauzer is always wearing his ID tags.

Continue Training - Be sure to continue training your Miniature Schnauzer daily. Train your dog on the new set-up of the home and yard so he can navigate them on his own. Pretend it’s an obstacle course and he must learn where to turn right, turn left, go straight, etc… Reinforce verbal commands and teach your Schnauzer new skills using lots of praise and other positive reinforcements. Knowing the lay of the land is a huge confident booster for a canine with limited vision or blindness.

  • New Commands to teach your dog: Here are some new verbal commands that will help blind dogs manage - Step up; Step down: Approach; Stop; Slow; Right; Left; Back; and Lift.

note: While training Step Up and Step Down use treats on each step to help encourage your dog. Another tip, use some type of marker at the end of the very last step down so your dog knows when he has reached the end of the staircase. You can just add a different rug or again use the clear plastic ribbed floor runner.

Inform Visitors - Blind dogs may get defensive or aggressive when others approach, so inform visitors or strangers you come in contact with about your Schnauzer's blindness. Have them lightly clap their hands or speak to your dog, so your Schnauzer knows someone is approaching. (Or have them use the approach command). The approach command is great for you to use when walking your dog. You can use it when you see other people or animals coming in your direction. The Approach command puts your Schnauzer on notice so the passersby won't startle him.

Noise Reference - If your dog is completely blind, he may feel more at ease in your home if you wear a bell or some other item that makes noise as you move about. Here's how: Tie a bell around your belt or have one put on a chain and wear as a necklace when you are at home. This will help your dog know where you are and when you move about in the home. It's also a good idea to have your blind dog wear a bell on his collar so you know his whereabouts too.

note: Some blind dogs have a problem with separation anxiety, as they rely heavily on their owners. Using the bell will let them know when you are around for sure. Also teach your blind dog an easy path to their safe zone. This will help your blind Schnauzer cope when he feels stress or fear when left alone.

Playing with a Blind Dog - It's important that your Schnauzer still gets adequate exercise and play time. Daily walks will help your Schnauzer physically as well as get him accustomed to being out and about with his impairment. It's also a good time to continue to work on his new verbal commands.

Play time is also important for blind dogs. Teach your Schnauzer games and dog tricks like Find It, Pick One, and other games that require his sense of smell or hearing. (see dog toys)

A Miniature Schnauzer with limited vision or blindness will learn to adapt. And with your help, your precious pet will continue to lead a very happy, loving, and fulfilled life. Books about blind dogs.

Dog Toys for Blind Dogs

If your dog is visually impaired or blind, he still has the need to play and be mentally stimulated. Check out these great dog toys for dogs losing their vision are noisy or scented toys.


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