Understanding Anxiety in Visually Impaired Dogs

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Understanding Anxiety in Visually Impaired Dogs

In the Understanding Anxiety in Visually Impaired Dogs, a blind dog may be very jumpy around things that would not bother a sighted dog, such as traffic cones or men wearing hats. If the dog is repeatedly displaying this behavior, it should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible to make sure there is not an underlying medical cause (pain, itching, illness). It can also be helpful to work with a veterinary behaviorist who specializes in anxiety issues.

It is also important that the human remains calm and upbeat around the pet, especially if the dog’s loss of vision is recent or acute. A fearful, sad human can transfer that feeling to the dog and may exacerbate their anxiety.

Many visually impaired dogs begin to rely more on sound cues, so it is important to keep familiar objects in their place, and not move their food and water bowls or furniture around. This can make them feel lost in their own home.

Understanding Anxiety in Visually Impaired Dogs

In some cases, a previously aggressive or dominant dog will now have to fight for survival without the ability to see their family members and other household pets. This can lead to aggressive behaviors such as snarling and biting.

Oftentimes, using classical conditioning (CC) can help a visually impaired dog overcome their fear. In this method, the feared stimulus is paired with something they enjoy, such as treats or toys. For example, a dog who is afraid of storms could learn that storms mean hot cheese or other treats. It is important to remember that comforting a fearful dog does not help them learn to deal with their fear, because it reinforces the feeling of being scared.

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