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Hello! I am new to this forum as I never knew it existed until now, but it seems to be a great place to seek help.

As stated in my profile; I am currently working in dog behavior and recently have taken on a project dog at my local shelter. She isn't my first dog I've worked with there and she is very sweet, but something about her is different than any dog I've met before; she is blind.

This dog can see shadows but nothing else, her hearing is OK but she doesn't seem to respond much to any calling or even treats. I had to place a treat directly in front of her nose and she still couldn't smell it very well. I'm wondering if the stress of other dogs/the shelter itself are making her even more displaced than she normally would be given her visual impairment.

To make things even harder on myself (because of course challenges follow me everywhere) she is extremely leash reactive to other dogs. She fence fights worse than most dogs I've experienced and every bark or whine causes her to dart towards the sound.

Does anyone have experience with a similar dog? Or just experience training a blind dog? Also does anyone know of a particular smelly/good treat? I'm thinking of giving her very fragrant treat to draw her attention to that.

I appreciate anything you could offer, wish me luck with getting this girl adoptable!
 

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It makes sense to me that a blind dog would be more likely to fence fight, as she probably can't see the fence. My past dog was far more likely to react to dogs behind fences at night, when she could hear dogs being threatening but not see that they were safely contained. Having volunteered at a couple of shelters, I can also say that fence fighting is a pretty common reaction to crowded, high-stress environments. She seems like a great candidate for foster placement, if that's an option in your area. Stress can definitely be a factor in not being able to eat treats.

For stinky treats, I like food tubes. You can get them at REI, or probably online (like this: Coghlan's Squeeze Tubes - Package of 2 - REI.com). Filling can include anything soft and delightful, like canned food, baby food, mashed sardines (with a little cream cheese for texture, mmm), peanut butter, and so on. Besides the fact that they can contain amazing treats, food tubes keep your hand a little further from teeth (handy, if you're working with a dog who might re-direct), plus dogs have to lick the treat and licking tends to be a soothing behavior. If your shelter has a fridge, you can keep food tubes filled & handy!
 

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I think to have a chance she's going to have to be fostered.

From your description not only is she blind, but she's extremely stressed and fearful. The not taking treats is a sign of the stress, the fence fighting is a sign of the fear. A shelter environment is a stressful place for a dog with all it's senses but for a blind dog it has to be pure hell.

My old dog went blind around 2 years before he passed away, for the year or two preceding that he had very limited vision near as I could tell he could see big shapes and light and dark. The dog I have now is fear aggressive towards people and large dogs, he will fence fight if I give him half a chance to do so.

What are you trying to teach her? For the fence fighting it's not going to get much better till you can get her overall stress level down, and to do that she needs to be out of the shelter. I work with my boy and he is getting better, but I can tell when he's been stressed by something because the reactivity is horrible. Try this site for tips on dealing with the reactivity Care for Reactive Dogs

If she'll play toys that make noise or have some sort of scent will be best for her.

For treats real meat works great, hot dogs are also good (don't feed to many), or cheese. You can also try making Tuna Fudge, most dogs love it and it's nice and smelly.

Good luck with her and thank you so much for trying to help!

Tuna Fudge


  • 2 6-oz cans tuna OR 1 14-oz can salmon — do not drain
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder or minced garlic (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Process tuna, garlic and eggs in food processor or blender (or mix in a bowl). Add flour and mix to a brownie-like consistency. Spread into a 9x9-inch greased pan. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes. When the brownies are done, they will have a putty-like texture and the edges will pull away from the sides of the pan.
Cut into squares and serve, or free
 
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