Will Training Be a Burden on Blind Dog?

When I attended the talk party at D.I.N.G.O. TAIWAN, I received a useful question from a participant. “Will training be a burden on a blind dog?” Most of people feel like that. At one time also I felt that and was really wondering about whether I should continue to train my blind Doxie Nono or not.

When I knew Nono’s eye disease

Nono was kind of intimidated but not have any behavior problem at all. I decided to take a dog training class because I had wanted to be a dog training instructor. I found out Nono’s eye problem after we just had started taking a training class. I brought her to two eye specialst vets and both vets gave a diagnosis as PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), said her left eye alreadly lost sight and her right eye almost lost sight.

PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is a genetic disease that has no cure and lead to blindness. When I knew that, I felt sorry for her and can’t stop crying. I though training might be a burden on her and spent a lot of time worrying about whether I should continue to train her or not. And then I decided to continue to take a dog training class as in the past because Nono seemed to enjoy training. I thougth to continue to do training as long as she enjoy it.

The key is to make a dog want to do

Nono became to have more incentive and enjoying training after I changed my opinion. Behavior is born from feeling. I became to pay attention to her willingness, evaluate it and give a reward for it rather than the accuracy of behavior.

I think “motivation” is more important than “form of behavior”. If a dog want very much to do something, he/she try to achive it by using his/her abilities. Even disabled dog including blind dog is the same. Disabled dog try to make best use of remaining abilities.

So we can bring out disabled dog’s abilities/potential and give the opportunites to solve problem for himself/herself by reward-based training and motivating him/her. And it enhances self-confidence and self-control, and increases what he/she can do for himself/herself.

Why can the reward-based motivational trainging generate fun for blind dog?

In the reward-based motivational training, dogs get a victroy at each step and moves to next step. Dogs can find a goal by thinking and choosing for himself. It’s a brain game for dogs like a quiz or puzzle.

Blind dog likes and enjoys training because reward-based motivational training gives him/her the opportunities to prove himself/herslf and to discover something new. So reward-based motivational training satisfys blind dog’s curiosity. Especially, clicker training can generate fun for blind dog because it’s safe, easy to understand and he/she can focus on thinking.

This is evidenced by the fact that Nono requires me eveyday to do training for new or complex behavior rather than easy behaviors and tricks for her such as sit, down, spin, back-up, head-down and do on. I need to come up with new trick one after another. It’s hard for me! 🙂

Thank you so much CK for your good question!

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