The first question is whether or not the dog was born blind or became blind? The reason is simple dogs born blind are much easier to acclimate to life without sight because they never miss what they never had… This is the case with my big girl Leo! She is a 110 pound Leonberger whose optic nerve never developed. Vets estimate she is approximately 70-75% blind, they think she can see some motion and maybe some degree of light and dark.
 She is now almost 4 years old and if you didn’t know she had vision issues you would have no idea… She is a therapy dog, a demo dog for my training business and well not to sound corny one of my best friends. Did I have to work hard at socialization? Yes, I did but to be honest I don’t really feel like training her took any longer than it had with any of my other dogs… In fact I will be honest with you I feel she has taught me more than I will probably ever teach her!
The only real difference I had with Leo was really working a lot with verbal commands (she obviously doesn’t do so well with hand signalsJ) and I had to teach a real reliable “pet” command. I simply say the word “pet” before someone is allowed to pet her, that way she knows that someone is going to touch her. This was the way we got her to quit ducking every time someone attempted to pet her on top of the head…
Ironically if folks would learn dogs don’t like to be patted on top of the head this would not have been such a huge issue, but I don’t think we will ever get to a point where all folks will learn this basic dog 101 fact…
Dogs do not like being patted on the head rather if you are going to say hello pet them gently under the chin! And only after asking and receiving permission to do so!!!!!
What if the dog in question becomes blind? Well that is a little bit trickier, you have an animal that became use to seeing the world one way and now has been thrust into darkness! Think to yourself about how scary that would be? Remember that dogs operate off the idea of the freeze, flight, fight principle, and anything scary can get a flight or fight response. So go slow and let the dog become accustom to this new life at his pace not yours. 
To be honest in this case I really would recommend not only a great vet but a trainer to help you through the process! But here are some simple guidelines:
1.      Do not move furniture
2.      Do not change routines (keep things as regular as possible)
3.      Do not approach the dog from behind
4.      Do not approach the dog quietly (make sure he knows you are there)
5.      Do not let strangers approach without warning
If your dog has been losing vision gradually over a period of years these issues may not be so critical but are definitely things to consider when living with a visually impaired dog!
Hopefully this article gives you some ideas of how tricky it can be, but tricky or not these dogs make wonderful loving pets. In the end they teach us about what humanity and kindness really are. I can tell you from personal experience that being a Seeing Eye human is a job I would not trade or give up!
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