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July 3, 2012 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Adopting a Special Needs Dog

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

A dog with special needs can live a very fulfilling life. Don't quickly walk past a dog at the shelter that is deaf, blind, or using a wheelchair. There are thousands of dogs that have special needs that need their forever home too! Are you intrigued and considering adopting a special needs fur kid, but don't know how you would communicate, or provide a safe environment?

No worries, I am going to offer some tips on how to do just that.

Special Room / Area

Baby Gates are your best friend! - Using a baby gate to secure areas around your house is a perfect way to provide a safe environment for your disabled friend. A dog that is suffering from these disabilities will do best if they are not left with the free-run of the entire house. Avoiding areas with stairs and blocking them off are imperative to a special needs dog.

Provide one room that is their area to have full access too. For example, the family room but not the entire first floor of a home. If you live in a ranch-style home, keep bedrooms and bathrooms off limits and instead give them access to only the living area

Do not seclude them away from everyone. Remember, dogs are pack animals and they do best when they are with their human family, closing them off in a room that is away from everyone is isolation and cruel.

A blind dog will require that the furniture is positioned safely in their area and will not hinder their movement. For example, remove any coffee tables as these can easily be bumped into. Make sure kids' toys are not on the floor and sharp edges on tables and corners are padded. Once you do this, do not reposition the furniture in this room, leave as is, your dog will quickly learn their way around it.

In their special room, your special fur kid should have a crate, their food, water dish, toys, and dog bed

Ideals to Help your Blind or Deaf Dog

Provide a water fountain for drinking. A blind dog can hear the trickling and flowing of the water, a deaf dog can feel the vibrations of the motor running.

When feeding your furry canine, take the bowl and gently place it to their nose, they will sniff the bowl and then guide the bowl slowly to the ground so they follow it with their nose.

Toys that squeak, rattle, or vibrate are the best types of toys to use to engage play with your fur kid. If you can find ones with scent on them that is even better!

Keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced-in yard when outside. All dogs can easily roam and explore, a dog with a disability can easily get lost and confused.

Help Calm Your Dog

Learn the T-Touch method: a therapeutic touch massage therapy that helps to calm and relax a dog.

Provide your dog with an all natural anti-anxiety or calming medicine such as Anxietrex or Chill Out Chews from Vetionx.  This helps keep them balanced and healthy mentally.

Potty Training

You would think that a dog with these types of disabilities is impossible to potty train, NOT SO!

  • When potty training do it like you would with a dog without a disability
  • Use a crate, don't punish if they have an accident in the house (expect accidents)
  • Use treats and LOTS of PRAISE (through physical touch or verbal) to reward when outside and the dog takes care of business
  • Put a special textured rug by the door you let the dog out of, the feel of this special rug will help teach the dog the door is nearby
  • Spray the textured rug with a special scent to also guide your dog

Respect Your Dog's Disability

Not all families with small children are compatible with a dog that has these types of disabilities. Children need to be gentle and approach their special needs dog with calmness.

Using touch is a great way to communicate to your dog what you want from him/her. Spend time bonding with your dog by playing, cuddling or going for walks outside (remember you will need to guide your dog around obstacles outside).

Teaching Your Blind or Deaf Dog to Communicate

A dog that is deaf can easily learn to watch hand signals for a way to understand commands. Hire a professional dog trainer to help assist in teaching you and your dog these hand signals.

Using a leash on your dog is a great way to safely approach your dog without startling them. Pick up the leash and give it a gentle tug, this will teach your dog that you are near if they are blind.

Never sneak up behind a dog that is blind or deaf. Instead, for a dog that is blind, use the leash method or make soft noises to let them know you are approaching. For a dog that is deaf, use the leash, stomp your foot on the floor, or clapping your hands together loudly to get your dogs attention will help. Dogs that are deaf learn quickly to follow vibrations.

Some blind dogs can still see some type of bright light, flicker the light on and off in the room that you are entering. This is a great way to get a deaf dogs attention too.

Use positive reinforcement training (LOTS OF PRAISE AND TREATS). Never ever use a choke, prong or electrical collar on your dog. They require a gentle and kind approach to training methods.

Announce Your Dog's Disability

  • Make sure people (strangers, family, friends) know your dog has a disability
  • Have a tag made that says "I am Blind" or "I am Deaf" with your contact information on it
  • Have a special bandana or vest made that lets people know you have a dog with a disability, this is especially helpful if your dog gets lost

Adopting a Dog in a Wheelchair

Congratulations! These fur kids adapt very quickly with your assistance. For example, providing them an easy ramp to use for stairs (make sure the ramp has walls to prevent their wheelchair from slipping off the edge) is a great start.

Adjust your furniture in the areas of your home to help your fur kid ease around the rooms in their wheelchair. Use a baby gate to protect your fur kid from stairs.

If your dog drags their back paws they will need to wear booties to help prevent them from getting injured while dragging them.

Although these dogs have limited or no function of their back legs some are able to go to the bathroom like a dog without a disability. Others will need to be assisted with their potty breaks and a vet or the adoption person can teach you how to do this. It is a simple process that takes a couple of minutes to do.; If your wheelchair bound fur kid cannot control their bladder, using a doggy diaper or belly band also helps.

These fur kids enjoy what a wheelchair offers them, mobility!; So grab the leash and get walking! Some will even play fetch!

Although they are special needs, these fur kids are easy to take care of with some help in the potty area.

Has your heart opened up to the potential of adopting a"special needs" fur kid? Don't discount them, they adapt quickly and you will fall head over heels in LOVE! Their requirements are minimal: a patient, calm, and gentle family and the rewards of what they give back outweigh all of their special needs.

Resources:

How to Help Your Blind and Deaf Dog

How to Care for a Blind / Deaf Dog

Paws to Adopt - Blind and Deaf Dogs

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