Approaching and greeting a blind dog

Because a blind dog cannot see you, it is important to remember that she may be a little hesitant or defensive at first. “Most blind dogs are very sensitive to movement,” Dawn Rehus, a certified pet training instructor, advises. “People generally want to put their hand in the dog’s face or pet them right away.”

Fitting seeing dogs with things that jingle can help blind dogs hear them coming.

Rehus recommends a gentler, gradual approach to greeting a blind dog. “A blind dog – as well as a seeing dog – should always be allowed to approach a person at his own will, be given time to smell the air and pick up the scent of the person,” she says.

Karen Belfi, president of the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance, agrees, adding that it is important to make a little bit of noise on your approach to let the dog know that you are there. “I would greet them first by voice,” she advises, “then let them sniff your hand, then pet,” she advises.

Children should always be taught how to approach a dog properly, but this is especially true with visually impaired dogs. Teaching a child to greet a blind dog in a calm, gentle manner will make for a comfortable experience for both kid and canine.

When introducing your blind dog to other pets, Rehus advises to do so with your sighted pets on leashes and your blind dog off-leash. Having the seeing animals on-leash can give you control of them, while your unleashed blind pooch can be allowed to flee if scared. “If he becomes frightened the last thing you want is for his flight response to be compromised,” she says.

Belfi suggests fitting your pets’ collars with tags that jingle. “The blind dogs can hear them, and no one can get snuck up on,” she says.

For more information

Living with a blind dog (main page)

Prepping your house for a visually impaired dog

Socialization is key

Toys and games for you and your blind dog

Training a blind dog

Why do dogs go blind?