Dedicated to beagle butt and L.E, two of the greatest dogs someone could have
I have been around dogs for almost my entire life, and love them very much. My first dog was certified with me so we could become a therapy dog team, sharing the love of dogs with others. After she passed away, my family adopted a puppy who was much more active, though has calmed down over the years. Here are my tips for interacting with dogs as a person with visual impairment, and adding a dog to the family. Please note that this post does not cover guide or service dogs, just companion dogs.
Research what dog breeds are best for you
Look for dog breeds that will work well for you and your lifestyle, but be open minded as well. My family originally decided that a springer spaniel was the perfect dog for us, and then we realized that was not the case at all. We then fell in love with a beagle- the last dog breed we ever expected to like!
My favorite resources
Some of my favorite resources for researching dog breeds include the American Kennel Club website and Dogs 101 videos on Animal Planet. Note that these only cover purebred dogs, and not mixed breed dogs.
Before adopting, flip the dog over
A dog trainer my family worked with taught us that if you flip a dog over so its stomach is facing upwards and the dog does not flail around uncontrollably, then the dog is submissive and is more likely to listen to its owner. This is a great trait for a dog if being adopted by a family with kids, and a great trait for therapy dogs too.
- Why Every Visually Impaired Child Should Meet A Therapy Dog
- Why To Attend Therapy Dog Reading Programs
Introduce the dog to the blindness cane
It’s important to familiarize the dog with the blindness cane and ensure it does not mistake it for a giant toy, or proceed to bite it. I do this by holding onto the cane and allowing the dog to approach me naturally. My dog usually just sniffs the cane and moves along.
Practice walking around with the leash
It’s important to practice walking the dog, and not having the dog take you for a walk! My dad encouraged my brother and I to practice walking the dog on her leash and learn how to control her. Because our current dog tends to chase after animals, I never walk her alone.
Make sure you don’t pull on the dog’s ears, tail, or similar. While many dogs that are good with kids won’t snap, they are still dogs, and can’t be trusted 100%.
Dogs are smart and will adapt
My dog has noticed that I frequently run into objects and sometimes have trouble walking. As a result, she has learned to follow me around the house, although from behind. I have run into my dog several times because I didn’t see her, so she has learned to adapt to this.
Don’t get a puppy
I know I mentioned my family got a puppy, but it was not a good idea. The first few weeks and months were chaotic, as she enjoyed biting onto the bottom of our pants and tripping us, as well as running around in general. While she is a good dog now, my mom still insists we should have gotten an adult dog, since they have grown into their personalities and are more even tempered.
Both of my dogs came from our local humane society, as did our cat. Think adoption first when looking to add a dog to your family. While tools like Petfinder are awesome, I recommend visiting shelters in person, as our second dog had just arrived at the animal shelter twelve hours before and didn’t get listed on the website.
Dogs are great
I love dogs so much, and can’t imagine life without one. However, adopting one is not a decision to be considered lightly. Think it over before adding one to your family, as they are a huge responsibility. But if you do get a dog, send me a picture!