Taking care of a blind dog comes with a lot of emotional turmoil. You are always wondering what they can handle and what’s too much for them. After all, mistakes can come with much more dire consequences than with a seeing dog.
So it’s natural to worry about your blind dog and to even stress over them. But can you leave your blind dog home alone to go blow up some steam? Does doing so leave them at a higher risk of eating foreign objects like screws?
Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. In this post, we are going to cover whether you should leave your dog alone and what you can do to help them through the process, especially if they have separation anxiety. So sit back, relax, and get ready to be thoroughly informed.
Can You Leave a Blind Dog Alone?
Yes, you can leave a blind dog alone. You just have to ensure that they have all they need nearby and aren’t exposed to any safety hazards. Generally, blind dogs can adapt to being left alone well. These dogs usually depend on their other senses to get by.
For instance, they can use their sense of touch, smell, and hearing to find their way around the house. Interestingly, they can even use their whiskers to get around. That’s why you shouldn’t shave your dog’s whiskers, especially if it’s blind. While they may seem useless, your dog’s whiskers help them have spatial awareness and even provide them with some sensory information.
They help your dog accurately estimate the speed, shape, and size of nearby objects. Moreover, they help your dog appropriately position its head while they are swimming. What’s more? They can help a swimming dog where a current is flowing to.
Should You Leave a Blind Dog Alone?
You shouldn’t leave your dog alone immediately when they go blind. It’s better to give them a few days or weeks to get used to their environment before you do so. During this adjustment period, blind dogs are usually sensitive. As such, they can struggle with their confidence and even develop separation anxiety.
However, once they are over this phase and become confident again, you can leave them alone without any worries. Just ensure that you don’t leave them for days or weeks on end.
At the very least, you need to arrange for someone to check up on your dog from time to time while you’re away. Also, keep in mind that you will need to do some things before you leave.
These preparations and precautions will keep your dog healthy and happy while you’re away. So don’t just rush through them. Instead, take your time and always double-check – you can even create a checklist so that you don’t forget anything. And when you decide to go on a long trip, you can leave this checklist with the person you have appointed to check on your dog.
What Should You Do to Leave a Blind Dog Alone?
- Check for any obstacles or hazards
Get on all fours, walk like your dog and see what obstacles or hazards you encounter along your way. If you bump into any furniture/decor or get tripped by wires, remove them. These are hazardous to your dog.
Leave the furniture where it is
Once you have removed all obstacles, leave all the furniture the way it is. Changing the floor plan of your house after your dog has already gotten used to it and mapped it will disorient them. So always double-check that you haven’t left anything out of place before you leave the house.
Create a safe space
Another thing you can do to help your dog is to create a safe space in the house with all their basic needs. A corner is a particularly great place for a safe space. This spot should have its crate, bed, bowls, and toys.
Install a pet camera
To keep you from getting worried throughout the day, you can install a pet camera in the room your dog is located. This will allow you to keep an eye on them without having to rush home. The good thing is that pet cams are affordable and readily available in many online and offline stores.
Turn on some music
To keep your dog from getting lonely while you’re away, you can leave the radio on or play some music. A soothing playlist can even help them calm down. Also, they can use the sound of the music to navigate around the home.
Use essential oils
To help your blind dog safely get around, you can use essential oils. For instance, you can place a different essential oil in each room so that your dog can figure out where they are by smelling. Ensure you only use a small amount of essential oil, though – since dogs’ sense of smell is powerful, too much of it can overwhelm them.
Make toilet areas easily accessible
If your dog pees or poops inside the house, ensure that they have a doggy toilet or puppy pad near their safe space. If they are an outside dog, though, ensure that they can easily find the doggy door and don’t encounter any hazards outside. You can do this by placing wind chimes outside the door, filling all the holes in your yard, and removing all sharp objects from it.
Provide a variety of toys
To keep your dog occupied and engaged during your absence, provide them with a variety of toys. Chew toys are particularly good for this since they offer other health benefits as well. For instance, chewing on such toys can release endorphins in your dog’s brain, keeping them relaxed.
Before you leave your blind dog alone for hours or even a day, try leaving them for short periods first. For instance, you can start going out for 30 minutes each day and see how they behave when you come back – try not to make a big deal of it, though. Once they are used to that, you can then increase the length of your absence until you feel like they’re ready.
Plan for someone to check in on them
If you’re planning to leave your dog alone for a substantial amount of time, you’ll need to arrange for someone to check up on them and spend some time with them. For this, you can use a friend, family member, or even a pet minding service. Whichever one you opt for, though, they will ensure that your dog doesn’t feel lonely in your absence.
Get your dog a companion
Honestly, this is a big decision that should only be made after a lot of thought and consideration. However, it can be helpful – evidence even suggests that blind dogs are usually happier and feel safer when they have a sighted dog as a companion. So if you can and are willing, go ahead and do it – just ensure that the two dogs are compatible.
Place food and water in the same spot
Whatever you do, don’t change where you usually place your dog’s food and water – this can throw them off. Just ensure that it’s near the safe space you have set up for your dog. To make things easier for your dog, you can even consider offering food with a strong smell.
Exercise your dog
Before leaving your blind dog home alone, consider taking them on a walk or engaging them in another form of exercise. This will deplete any pent-up energy they have and make them more likely to stay calm and stress-free while you’re away. This can even reduce the chances of them destroying your furniture or other items in your absence.
Train your dog
If your dog only just recently went blind, you will have to learn how to train them without visual cues and proceed to train them regularly to adjust to their new lives. The training will not only engage them mentally but also help them build confidence. This is important if you plan to leave them alone from time to time.
Leave them with a used shirt
Leaving one of your worn shirts in your dog’s safe space can not only calm them when you’re away but can also help guide them to bed later on in the day. This is particularly effective because of dogs’ strong sense of smell. Just don’t leave them with your favorite shirt, though – they may end up tearing it in their enthusiasm.
Consider confining them to one room
To keep your dog from getting into your clothes or even groceries while you’re away, consider confining them to the living room. Close the doors to the other rooms and just ensure that they have access to a doggy door if they are an outside door. This way, you can reduce their radius of destruction if it comes down to it.
What About a Blind Dog with Separation Anxiety?
If your blind dog has developed separation anxiety, you can still leave them alone. In fact, never leaving them alone reinforces the separation anxiety. However, these dogs do need a little more attention and training than those without separation anxiety. After all, this anxiety is usually caused by legitimate stressors.
There’s one thing you need to know about separation anxiety in dogs, though – it is commonly misdiagnosed. So before you assume your blind dog has this form of anxiety, you need to observe how they behave after you leave. You can do this by setting up cameras in your home and reviewing the footage later on. If you notice that your dog only paces, whines, barks, or digs for a few minutes and then goes back to normal, they don’t have separation anxiety.
But if your dog continues with this behavior for more than 20 minutes, they could have separation anxiety. Keep in mind that peeing/pooping in the house or chewing on your stuff when you’re away doesn’t indicate that your dog is anxious. This behavior could just indicate that your dog needs potty and behavioral training. Even if your dog has separation anxiety, though, it’s not the end of the world – there are ways you can help your dog overcome it.
How Can I Help a Blind Dog with Separation Anxiety?
Calmly leave and enter the house
To avoid reinforcing the social anxiety your dog has, avoid making your departure and arrival a big deal. So don’t pet, cuddle, and talk to your dog every time you enter or leave the house. This riles them up even more and can make their separation anxiety worse with time.
Instead, just act naturally and go about your business. This will signal to your dog that this is a normal part of life, and they will soon get used to it.
Give them stuff to do while you are away
To distract your dog while you’re away and make them associate your absence with fun activities, always leave them with exciting toys. For instance, you could leave them with a food-stuffed kong or a chew toy. You can even give them a different toy each time you leave to keep things interesting.
And when you notice that they have a favorite toy, set it aside so that you only give it to them when you leave. This will act as a treat that they can get excited about instead of worrying about when you will get back. To reinforce this behavior, you can even take the treat away immediately when you come back home.
Use your dog’s triggers against them
If you notice that your dog starts getting worked up when you pick up your car keys or head to the door, you can use their triggers to confuse them. You can do this by regularly performing a trigger and then staying in the house. For instance, you can pick up your car keys and then go lie on the couch and watch TV.
You can even do something more serious such as walking to your car and then coming back inside and going to bed. This can disarm your dog and make it impossible for them to know when you’re actually leaving. Eventually, this can go a long way in redefining your dog’s triggers.
When it comes down to it, any dog can be left alone, even a blind one. All you have to do is ensure that your dog will stay safe and healthy in your absence. This is where thorough preparation comes into play. Ultimately, your dog’s well-being is up to you and you alone.