What It’s Like Living With An Old Blind And Deaf Dog

senior-dog-old-age.jpg When it comes to problems experienced by aging dogs, our dog Rascal has most of them.

Though he is still in reasonably good health and not suffering from many aches and pains, his navigational skills have been reduced to what he can smell.

With doggie cataracts and hearing loss that has eliminated most of our ability to communicate with him, Rascal still seems to get around the house with little trouble.

He definitely relies on his nose a lot more now. He uses smells to reassure himself that he’s on the correct or intended path.

Yes, our old dog has slowed down a lot, but he’s still the same old Rascal to us.

No longer does he run about the house like he used to.

Instead, he sleeps away most of the day.


The Nose Knows

When he does decide to take a stroll, it’s at a slow determined pace — with his nose pointed straight out. He uses his nose as a blind person would use a cane; walking slowly enough that when he bumps into something it’s at such a slow speed that no damage is done.

That’s the only way that  Rascal can recognize when something is in his way. Like a windup toy that is designed to spin and go another way, he will simply alter course and continue on.

It’s such a common occurrence that it can even be somewhat comical at times. For example, if Rascal manages to get under the dining room table with 6 chairs, he can spend up to a half hour bumping into different chair legs while trying to find his way back into open space. There’s no pain, I assure you. It’s simply Rascal’s way of navigating his world these days.


When Your Old Dog Can’t Hear You

Calling our aging dog by name is a waste of time. Thankfully, he still responds to a sharp noise, like the sound created by clapping your hands together.

When we let him out onto the deck to get some air, finding the door to come back in is difficult for him. But if I snap my hands together a couple times, he can usually get his bearings and find his way to the door.

Surprisingly, it took very little effort to train this old deaf dog to respond to certain sounds. He learned rather quickly what is meant to help him get by.

Must Read: Dog owners share their tips for living with a deaf dog.


Old Dogs Are More Sensitive

old-dog-sign-by-Amber-Rhea.jpg Old dogs can easily become insecure. Whether it’s from his diminished senses, or maybe his mental capacity is slipping as well, I don’t know.

I do notice that when using his nose to navigate, he will come up and bump his nose against our legs — just to reassure himself that we are close by.

And his nose goes up and he starts sniffing the air whenever we are eating, because he still wants his share of any treats that might be getting passed around.

I make it a point to pick him up and snuggle him, while talking to him with the side of my cheek against him. He may not hear the words, but the vibration tells him the tone of voice I’m using. This way, he knows that I’m comforting him and all is good.


Setting Boundaries For An Old Dog

Adjusting to a blind and deaf dog really has taken very little effort.

Naturally, we can no longer turn him loose in the yard. When he still had partial sight, we would watch him in the yard as he set his own boundaries to define his space. Our yard is enclosed by concrete sidewalk, and he knew as long as he was inside the sidewalk space and never stepped down off the curb he would most likely be in our yard.

Occasionally, he would manage to get to our neighbor’s porch instead of ours (a very short distance). But since we would be watching him very closely, it was only a simple matter of retrieving him.

Even old dogs like to feel they have some freedom and ability to get by on their own. Like humans, giving up that last bit of independence is something they really don’t want to do.

Fortunately, Rascal’s navigational problems have advanced to the point now that he is more than willing to turn over the reins to us. He is totally dependent on use now, and he is quite happy to have it so. It’s just one less thing for him to worry about.

Curtis Carper

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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  • Sglenna

    Actually, a pretty sad story – taking a half hour to get out from under a table doesn’t seem quality of life in a spirited pooch. My older dog (only 13) is close to being deaf and now completely blind. She’s very disoriented and her home and world seem like a scarey, foreign place to her. As much as it breaks our hearts and makes me tear up to write it – I should put her down, if it’s about her quality life and not my emotional attachment to her. We are their caretakers, so what is best for them?

    • Gilmour Josh

      What did you end up doing? I have a dog in the exact same position, and I feel the same way…

      • Jaime’s proud owner

        We have a 14.5 yr old cocker. Totally blind & deaf with all of us in the family able to finally agree on the dog’s abilities.  We’re going to love the hell out of this dog who has given us nothing but love.  When he can’t eat or walk is another story. 

  • Vfassett

    My Yorkie Missy is newly diagnosed diabetic, now has gone blind overnight and well as nearly totally deaf. I am looking for any tips, assistive devices, answers, how to cope because my heart is breaking, and finding very little on the Internet. There is plenty for blind only or deaf, or from birth but not so much if is a senior blind deaf dog. I am desperate to help make things better for her to adjust and be happy in her remaining years. Thank you!

  • Ann

    I have a17 year old shih stzu and he is deaf and now blind. We never move furniture or allow him to jump up on the chair tolook out the window. His fav past time. Sooo sad, but  he still appears happy as could be. He has two  patient parents which means everything.

  • Jaime’s proud owner

    My dog is a 14.5 yrs cocker spaniel.  He has just gone blind and deaf.  however, he still senses people with bad energy and barks like hell at some people.  Love this dog.

  • Precious Owners

    We have a toy poodle that lost his sight first, and now has lost his hearing. I am concerned but he really seems healthy. Glad for the comments of others to reassure me that he will be ok. The blindness didn’t bother him so much, he didn’t know he was blind. But now the deafness is a lot harder on me for sure as he goes in circles when I try to call him, so there must be sound but he can’t recognise where it is coming from. No doubt we will just enjoy him and hope that he’s ok.

  • Barbara

    My little ChooChoo, 15 yr old poodle has just gone blind (already deaf) and it is so sad for me, but she seems just fine……the tail wags just like always when she finds me. I make it easier to find me by wearing perfume on my legs and trained her to that particular scent by putting it on her pillow and on the tee shirt she sleeps under. This scent has become her “safe” scent and she knows it will lead her to MOM!

  • Ed Grabusic

    My 17 shih tzu , Blue had a cataract about 3 years ago in one eye the blue one. Now both have cataracts and he’s totally blind and deaf but has a little peripheral vision left when we walk in the park and the Sun is bright enough, he see me slightly. If no other dogs are on the cart path I take him off his leach and give him all the freedom he need if a cart or another dog is coming I clip on his collar till all is clear.When we come back i have to carry him off the golf cart and take him right to his bowl of water so he doesn’t dehydrate, we live in Florida and it’s easy to do..It’s probably taking me longer to adjust to him then it did him to me as they say they are your kids and a family member.

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

      Hi Ed – Thanks so much for sharing your story. Sounds like your dog is SO lucky to have found you! You’ve helped him tremendously when he needed you most. And you’ve clearly been blessed as well. Hugs to you both.