Just because a dog can’t see, that’s no reason for them to stop having fun. When my Chuck lost his sight to diabetes, I wanted to be sure his life was still stimulating and interesting. That meant we continued his daily walks … and even our trips to the dog park.
But, I had to make sure the park remained a safe place for him.
If your pup loses his sight due to age, disease or even if he was born that way, he can still do all the things a sighted dog can; it’s just up to you to do a little of the seeing for him!
Here are some tips to ensure your blind dog’s trip to the park is fun and as safe as can be.
1. Do a walk-through
The first few times you take your blind dog to the park, keep him on leash. Walk throughout the property and let him explore. He’ll stay safe as you guide him and will become increasingly confident in his ability to navigate.
2. Go during off hours
You dog will enjoy the park most if he doesn’t get overwhelmed; that means avoiding peak hours (like going after work). A few dogs in the park is good, but too many will mean your dog is more likely to bump into other pups, and that could spark an altercation.
3. Make sure your dog is on solid ground
Many dogs love to dig holes, especially when they’re at dog parks. That means, if your park is like mine, there are usually at least a few craters around. You certainly don’t want your pooch falling into one, so walk around the park and if you see a hole, kick the dirt back into it.
4. Scout the park for obstacles
Take a look around to identify any items that your dog can bump into. Our park has plastic chairs that people move around throughout the day; if those chairs aren’t being used, I’ll pick them up and group them around the trunk of a tree. That way I just need to be sure Chuck says away from that one area.
The park might also have pooper scoopers, which are frequently propped against a fence for easy access. Collect the wayward obstacle and put it next to the garbage can. Same goes for water bowls; put them next to the water spigot. Again, the goal here is to group moveable obstacles with stationary ones so there’s fewer places to avoid.
5. Go on doody duty
Although everyone at the dog park should clean up their own dog’s poop, not everyone does. That means your dog could very easily step in some strange dog’s mess. Not only is that unsanitary, it’s unhealthy, too. So, as much as you shouldn’t have to do this, for the safety of your blind pup, be sure to pick up any poop you see. It’ll be way easier to clean it up, than to scrape it out from between your dog’s paws (gross, but true).
6. Stay clear of the play zone
At some point when we’re at the dog park, there’s usually someone who is playing fetch with his dog. That means some lucky pup is all keyed up and running like greased lightening to chase down a ball. Make sure you’re watching the park for when these games begin so you can keep your dog away from the action. Better yet, relocate to the other end of the park.
7. Inform others your dog is blind
Depending on who’s at the park and their demeanor, I sometimes tell other park patrons that Chuck can’t see. Mostly so they know if they move toward him, they shouldn’t expect that he’ll move out of their path. That way they don’t trip over Chuck, or hurt him by plowing into him. This seems like a basic thing, but it’s the basic things that you need to consider when your dog can’t see.
8. Stay attentive
Just if you were to have a blind child, a blind dog requires your complete attention. Don’t let yourself get lost in a conversation or become distracted while at the park; stay engaged.
In closing, remember that confidence is the key to your blind dog having a fun time at the park. If he is confident that he won’t have any negative encounters (like falling into a hole, bumping into a pooper scooper pole or getting run over by a ball chasing youngster), he’ll be more apt to roam about happily.
Creating a positive experience for your blind pup at the dog park is almost entirely in your hands. Take that responsibility seriously…and then have some fun!