Helping a Blind Rescue Dog with Communication Tips and Scent Games

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 15, 2021

For this Santa Monica dog training session we did some visual impared scent games and shared tips to communicate with blind dogs to help a beautiful 10 year-old Pit mix Kiki.

I fell in love with Kiki the instant I laid eyes on her. She had a wonderful warm energy and while she was excited, her tail was moving in a long slow sweeping motion in the middle which was extraordinarily welcoming and polite.

A close second were Kiki’s amazing guardians. I’ve worked with a lot of people and dogs as a Dog Behaviorist and it always warms my heart when I see the perfect pairing; a dog with special needs who finds humans who go the extra mile to provide them.

I shared a number of tips that are helpful for blind dogs like Kiki. One that I really hope the guardians will look into is getting her a halo. This is a ring that attaches to the harness, chest or shoulders and provides them with feedback before they run into things. This is a wonderful tool to use for a blind dog especially when they are in new areas that they haven’t already mapped in their mind.

I also recommend that the guardians wear a bell themselves, especially when they are on walks. This can be comforting for blind dogs because the ding of the bell allows them to keep track of where their humans are in relations to their position. This sort of doggy-sonar is something many people are unaware of but can really help with the confidence and comfort level of blind dogs.

One of the tips that I shared involves doing some scent games. This is something I like to do with just about all of my dog behavior clients, but in Kiki‘s case, it took on even more significance. Being able to burn energy in the home by using her nose can help keep her satisfied and occupied.

Well Kiki did very well with the cookie in the corner exercise, there were a few treats that she was unable to find. I showed the guardians how they could leave scent trails for her to make it easy for a blind dog to locate a treat on the floor. It went so well I decided to do a free positive dog training video on how to use scent trails to help blind dogs.

It was great to see how quickly Kiki picked up on the scent trails we were drawing on the floor. This is clearly one smart pitbull. If you have a visually limited dog, I would recommend that you use the same tip to help a blind dog find something. It’s easy, you don’t have to be a professional pitbull dog trainer to do it, just some stinky treats and a good surface.

One of the challenges of having a blind dog is communication. For dogs, a lot of communication occurs with body language but obviously that is something that Kiki is unable to observe. I handed my camera to one of the guardians so that I could go over a number of tips for communicating with blind dogs.

Using the secrets of communicating with blind dogs will help Kiki feel more confident and better understand what it is her guardians are trying to tell her.

Next we turned our attention to Kiki’s separation anxiety problem. I went over how to desensitize a dog to the triggers associated with our leaving and shared a number of other tips to help such as increasing exercise before hand, playing music in the background and helping the dog practice being alone. This video from another session for a dog with separation anxitey will help with instructions and tips. Its a process that takes repetition to work. Fortunately Kiki’s guardians are more than equal to the task.

Before we wrapped up the session, I recommended that the guardians check out Denise Fenzi’s scent work courses. There are a number of other courses out there that could also be helpful but this would be a great way for them to get started.

As much as I enjoyed this in-home Santa Monica dog training session, eventually it had to come to an end. To help the guardians remember all of the tips I shared with them, we recorded a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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