Teaching a Blind Dog to Walk Up Stairs
Blindness for your pet is at first very scary for him, whether the result of his elder years, an accident, or eye disease. It is a challenge to determine if there is an up or down he needs to consider. Fortunately, this can be mastered in time as your loyal friend gains confidence and sureness of paw.
Starting with only one or two steps keeps this from becoming a daunting task for you both. This is a safe way to begin, using a leash to guide your pet gently, while allowing for some independence that will encourage him on his journey. While calmly announcing "STEP", you can then ascend or descend the stairs. This helps to establish for him a reliable and reassuring "connection".
Using patience and a calm voice are key to allaying any fears your dog may be experiencing when his training begins. Let him progress at his own, comfortable pace, as he becomes familiar with his environment. Reward him with words of praise when he reaches the top or bottom and, of course, a favorite treat to seal the deal. The more confidence you express, the more his confidence will build.
With my dog, lots of repetition was an essential part of the process, turning his awkward, reluctant approach to all this into part of his daily routine. A friend suggested I try using a subtle scent at one end or the other of his destination; it signaled for him a point of departure or its destination...such a simple, but a great idea. Prior to that I was using a food treat to lure him onto the staircase. The scent approach was soon working wonders, adding another success to his daily accomplishments.
Making his way around the house was helped, in turn, using his Puppy Stairs and dog ramps to reach chairs and beds and the sofa where we have our afternoon naps together. Their soft, firm edges are a safe and easy way for him to navigate, climb and generally acclimate himself to some of his preferred locations.
All the direction you have been giving your companion will add to his preparedness in more unfamiliar places, both indoors and out, where there are other obstacles to overcome. Commands of "SLOW" and "EASY", followed by your words of praise when your pet succeeds, keep him in motion and self-assured. Be sure to speak soothingly to him as you approach, to alert him to your presence. It is comforting to my dog when I inform him of my comings and goings, carrying on a conversation with him as I move about; this can sometimes prove quite humorous.
Meanwhile, daily use of his veterinarian recommended Puppy Stairs and dog ramps continue to expand his boundaries, as I place them in various locations around the house for his convenience and safe travel options.