Choosing a Collar and Leash for a Blind or Deaf Dog
If your dog is blind or deaf, chances are they have adapted well to their disability and live a very normal life at home- navigating the familiar environment by using their other senses and their memory.
Venturing outside of this safe, familiar environment can be frustrating for many blind or deaf dogs, but your familiar presence can help guide and reassure your pet.
Choosing a dog collar and leash for a blind or deaf dog is more specialized than shopping for a typical dog. A disabled dog will need a collar which can appropriately and gently communicate your guidance to your dog.
It’s much more important that disabled dogs know basic obedience. While a handler can use correction collars on most opinionated dogs, using a correction collar on a disabled dog attempting to navigate their environment can be very frustrating for the dog.
If you have not already, teach your dog to heal. Much like a blind person can use a seeing dog to navigate an unfamiliar environment, your dog will use your presence to guide them. If your dog is blind, make sure to always navigate obstacles with plenty of room for your dog to follow at your side. (Much like a guide dog must learn to navigate the world with a human’s height in mind, you’ll need to plan your movements to include the width of your dog)
Blind dogs will rely on your voice to help navigate, while deaf dogs will use your body language and even hand signs. For both types of disabilities, though, the leash and collar become an important connection and method of communication in themselves.
Your lead and collar can be used as an attention grabber for deaf dogs, to alert them to redirect their attention on you for a non-verbal cue, and for blind dogs, to warn them a direction change or step is coming.
Both blind dogs and deaf dogs should always be worked with in a flat buckle collar. To use a narrow, round, or choke collar can potentially cause unnecessary discomfort when you are using the collar’s pressure to communicate with your dog. Some owners may find chain martingale collars, helpful- as the jingle of the chain being collected can be a cue before the dog even needs to feel pressure of the collar constricting, but for most dogs a flt buckle collar- as wide as comfortable- is the best choice.
Ideal leashes vary for blind and deaf dogs. Deaf dogs may benefit from a longer leash, to allow them to turn and watch your body language, while blind dogs will benefit from a short traffic leash that holds them close by your side. When selecting a leash for walking a blind dog, try to purchase the stiffest leash you are able to find, as the leash itself can be a way to guide and redirect your dog.