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5 Myths about Blind Dogs and Advice if you're Adopting One

Have you heard any these myths before? 

If you get a blind dog, you won’t be able to move your furniture!

You can’t have a blind dog if you work full time.

Blind dogs are so sad.

Chances are you probably have! You might even believe some of them yourself. These myths are pervasive and before Chelsea Hindle started volunteering with Hear No Evil, Deaf Dog Rescue, she believed them as well...

August 23 is International Blind Dog Day, a day for spreading gratitude for the disabled dogs in our lives and raising awareness of the plight many blind dogs find themselves in. Unfortunately, it's still common for blind puppies to be euthanised or abandoned, simply for being blind. Blind dogs are overlooked for adoption because people believe they are too difficult to care for.

In honour of #InternationalBlindDogDay, let's bust five myths about blind dogs and their lives, training, and care.

#1. Blind Dogs Do Not Have A Good Quality of Life

One of the most common myths about blind dogs is that they live sad lives. People often react with pity when discovering that a dog is blind or losing their vision. Puppies born with vision impairment are often put down, and dogs with acquired blindness are euthanised because it is seen as a kinder option than helping them adjust to life with no vision.

Sparky, owned by a HNE volunteer 
has age-related blindness & glaucoma
While there are underlying causes of blindness that can affect their quality of life, such as 
glaucoma (a condition where pressure builds up in the eyes) or microphthalmia (a condition where eyes are smaller than normal), blindness itself will not affect your dog’s happiness.
The brindle Staffy in the lead shot is Mia, a Hear No Evil, Australian Deaf Dog Rescue adoptee wo had glaucoma in both her eyes.

Humans rely a lot on our sight, but it is important to remember that dogs aren’t the same. For dogs, their sense of smell is essential to navigating the world, while their sight is comparatively poor. This means that the vast majority of dogs aren't bothered by losing their sight, and puppies born blind don’t know any different at all.

There is no need to pity a blind dog's sad life. As long as any underlying medical issues are treated and well-managed, a blind dog can live long and happily as a beloved family pet.

#2. Dogs Can’t Adjust to Blindness

Sonar modelling her "I'm Blind"
Dog Bandana by Byron & Co
There are many reasons a dog might go blind later in life. While some dogs are born blind due to inherited conditions, such as complications from the double merle genes, other forms of blindness are acquired. 

These are many and varied, but the most common reasons include glaucoma, cataracts, trauma, eye removal, or old age.

It can be devastating to receive a diagnosis of vision impairment for your pup, and many people worry about how their dog will cope. This is a valid concern, suddenly having a blind pup in your life can be an overwhelming life change.

It is important to remember that dogs are individuals, and each will cope differently. 
Some may struggle at first, and others may adjust quickly. Either way, there are a few things you can do to help your dog adjust to their new life experience.

✔️ Gate off stairs until your dog learns to navigate them safely.

✔️ Teach commands like "up", "off", and "careful".

✔️ Remove or minimise as many hazards and obstacles as possible.

✔️ Add tactile cues to announce a barrier (rubber mat at the front door, for example).

Keep life as normal as possible. Let them do the things they love, like digging, chewing, playing fetch, and going on walks.

 Adoptable Navy (VIC), a deaf ACD loves the outdoors - Hear No Evil, Australian Deaf Dog Rescue

#3. Blind Dogs Can’t Enjoy Sports and Activities

Sometimes it can feel like we need to bundle our blind dogs up in bubble wrap, in case they get hurt. Thankfully, this is not true and blind dogs can enjoy almost as many sports and activities as sighted dogs can.

Blind dogs particularly gravitate towards scent-based sports games, such as scent work, tracking, or man-trailing

Since their noses are so sharp, they can do exceptionally well in these events - some dogs go above and beyond and earn championships!

While blind dogs love using their noses competitively, they are more than competent at a range of other dog sports. Obedience, Rally, Trick Dog, Barn Hunt, and Earth Dog are all sports popular with blind canines. 

Max, the mini Fox Terrier rescue had one eye removed but is still happily competing at flyball

Dogs with minor vision impairments can compete in sports like flyball and agility on a case-by-case basis. Even if you (or your dog) aren't the competitive type, there are still plenty of activities for you to enjoy! 

Photo: Hear No Evil, Deaf Dog Rescue
Blind dogs can safely enjoy the backyard or house by themselves. 
They can go on hiking, kayaking, biking, or on a relaxing stroll. Many of them have their signature zoomies and way of playing fetch, even if they can't see the ball. 

They can also enjoy enrichment such as puzzle toys, snuffle mats, and fun chews.

It is completely up to you what activities you and your blind dog decide to try and the world is your oyster!

#4. Blind Dogs Are Untrainable

"Can you train a blind dog?" is a question that dog trainers are very familiar with. It is usually quickly followed by, "How do you train a blind dog?"

On the surface, training blind dogs looks different from training sighted dogs. But that's the catch, while it looks different, all dogs learn the same, and blind pups are no different! Dogs learn through a simple process of association, their behaviour causing a consequence that is either rewarding or punishing. If the consequence was rewarding, they'll do it again. If it was bad, that behaviour will decrease.

Adoptable Sonar with her foster carer
Photo - The Intellectual Canine
Of course, that doesn't mean that training a blind dog can't be overwhelming for a new owner - or even an experienced one!

Marker training is a popular method that works well with all dogs but can be particularly effective for blind dogs. Marker training involves pairing a "marker" (a noise from a clicker, or a word such as "yes") with a reward.

When the dog does something correctly, the marker is used, and the dog is given their reward, soon they associate the sound of the marker with having completed a task successfully.

If you happen to have a dog who is deaf and blind, you can use tactile cues. These are little taps or pats given on different parts of the dog's body to mean different things. For example, a tap on the paw might mean "shake", while a tap on the shoulder means "lay down".

If you are having issues with training your blind dog, or are experiencing more significant behaviour issues, there are several resources and trainers you can reach out to, which are listed at the end of this article.

#5. Blind Dogs Are Always Anxious

It is commonly believed that if you adopt a blind do you will need to be with them all the time, or they'll develop anxiety. Sadly, this keeps many people from welcoming a dog that would otherwise be a wonderful fit for their family. Related myths include: blind dogs need a sighted dog to guide them around, and that blind dogs always have separation anxiety.

Some aspects of blindness do indeed make blind dogs more susceptible to being anxious. Being scared of loud noises makes sense if they can't see what is making the noise. 

Skye, part of HNE's shelter visit program
 had an eye removed due to trauma
However, in general, blind dogs are no more prone to anxiety than any other dog. If your dog is experiencing anxiety though, it's important to reach out to a qualified trainer who has experience working with blind dogs and their quirks.

You also don't need to work from home or be retired to own a blind dog. There are many blind dogs available for adoption who are more than happy to nap on the couch while you are at the office and enjoy a fun adventure or a snuggle when you get home. 
When adopting any dog, you need to consider the needs of the individual dog and your lifestyle before committing to them, blind or not.
If you are considering welcoming a new furry family member to your home, take the time to meet a blind dog and see if they would be suitable. 

Blind dogs are often overlooked in shelters and rescues, and they deserve a chance to live a long and happy life in a home just as much as any dog.

Hear No Evil, Australian Deaf Dog Rescue specialises in rescuing and rehoming dogs with hearing, vision, and neurological impairments, and they currently have several blind dogs available for adoption. I encourage you to fill in an adoption application and see if your next best friend is waiting for you in one of their foster homes!

written by Chelsea Hindle from The Intellectual CanineJuly 2023 for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved).

Resources for Blind Dog Owners:

To adopt a blind dog:


Trainers who work with blind dogs:

Blind dogs social media accounts (Instagram):


About our writer

Chelsea Hindle
is the owner of The Intellectual Canine, an avid writer, and “mum” to three gorgeous pups. She has had a passion for rescuing and advocating for disabled dogs since she became a foster carer with Hear No Evil Deaf Dog Rescue in 2021, and regularly writes about her experiences fostering disabled dogs on her many social media accounts. 

On the rare occasions she’s not with her dogs, she can be found knitting… probably something for her dogs!

For more information, visit

Follow @the_intellectual_canine on Instagram or on Facebook   

Follow Chelsea’s personal journey as a dog lover on Instagram @a_girl_and_her_menagerie 

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