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Any advice on how to help/cope with my 14 year old dog now she's deaf?

(10 Posts)
onedayiwillmissthis Wed 16-Oct-13 16:28:25

Hello, I'm new here, and could really do with some help

My little dog (poodle x bichon, that I've had since a pup) is now 14 1/2 and over the last couple of years has lost her hearing and her vision is starting to go as well, but other than that she's fit and well. She doesn't run quite as fast nor jump quite as high but fantastic for her age...always supprises people how old she is.

The problem is that since she's gone deaf, her sense of smell is soooooo important to her, that walking her has become a nightmare. Her head is constantly down, nose glued to every scent she finds...in the past, when she was having a good old sniff at something...and I wanted to walk on I would 'click-click' like you do with a horse and she knew it was time to shift. She's such a sweetie, but if i pull on her lead to get her moving...she looks at me so sadly...like I'm a puppy abuser sad

She's only little so I can't easily reach her to get her attention with touch...I end up feeling like I'm dragging her along...trying to keep her head up...with her looking so sad...tail down...neck arched...going slower and slower...it's just not fun...for either of us...the more i try and 'pull' her along...the slower we go...I feel like a mean, old ratbag...cos' I start to feel a bit cross with all the stopping...then she looks so pathetic that I loosen up the lead...head goes down...tail comes up...we come to a halt.

I want her to have a good old sniff at stuff...reading her 'wee-mails' as I call it...checking out all the other dogs in the neighbour hood...but there is a limit. Any advice...please...I've never had a dog as old as this before...not sure how to handle things.

CEvert Wed 16-Oct-13 16:36:47

Try using a harness and an extendable lead. This allows the dog to keep its head down to sniff. And the gentle pull from lead tells it where you are. Hopefully the dog's eyesight is not too poor so it can still see where you are.

onedayiwillmissthis Wed 16-Oct-13 17:10:29

When she is wearing her harness she just uses her whole body weight to resist moving...and we already use an extending lead. She can see fine up to about 10 feet or so...but not well enough that I could risk letting her off the lead anymore. She still like to play fetch with her ball around the house and garden smile

Is there another dog you can walk with? Someone who walks at the same time as you perhaps? Your dog may grow in confidence a bit if there is another dog to follow - as well as a real live dog being a bit more exciting than the smells they leave behind.

Maybe I'm missing something, but surely all that sniffing is one of the most pleasurable bits of the walk for the dog? Her nose is super sensitive compared to ours - just allow a bit more time and let her enjoy herself. If the problem is you feeling cross - could you change your expectations of the walk? Instead of it being a routemarch, think of it as being a very gentle bimble.

What I found immensely helpful on a recent TTouch workshop was learning a much greater appreciation of using posture and weight in a back and forth between me and the dog(s). It probably sounds a bit daft, but I think of it now in terms of a dance - it's very gentle and subtle between us, and is about shifting the weight/balance. Because I'm thinking more about that, I don't get frustrated by the apparent need to sniff every single tree, pine cone, twig, pebble and puddle on our walk (and to wee on them). grin

Ours take more leisurely sniffs if it's a very familiar walk -what happens when you take her somewhere new?

moosemama Wed 16-Oct-13 23:01:14

I think Scuttle is right. She probably just wants and needs to bumble around sniffing for the majority of her walk. If she's deaf and blind, it must be one of her few pleasures.

If you do have times when you need to move her on, could you perhaps take a nice smelly treat, eg garlic liver cake out with you and stick that under her nose to lure her forwards?

onedayiwillmissthis Thu 17-Oct-13 11:42:28

Hello...thanks everyone.

I have always let her sniff and mooch around, absolutely agree that is probably the best part of it for her. Its just that now, she has become so obsessed by scent, and also so determined that she is going to get every last bit of enjoyment out of her sniffling and snuffling that we are moving at such a slooooow pace...untill that is...she spots a cat (she's not exactly blind...she has cateracts forming in both eyes, but is still okey cokey on movement) ...or picks up a scent that suddenly veers off across the road...then whoaa she takes off pretty smart like.

Scuttlebutter...yes you are right about the route march type of thing...we have always walked between 2-4 hours a day, much of it at a cracking pace...but a lot of the time we were on a beach and she was off lead so could snuffle about much as she liked, then catch up or run back to me when called. Had a couple of close calls in the beginning before we realised she was going deaf etc, when she got too far away and spotted someone who she thought was 'mummy' and ran after them...the look of panic when she got close to them...realised her mistake and then frantically looked around for me...so now only off lead for short periods of time under very close supervision...on an empty beach...as soon as she starts to lose interest in the ball...she's back on the lead.

So, I have slowed down now, I realise how important smell is for any dog...my vet suggested I hide bits of her food around the house for her to find (just have to remember to check she's found them all).

Its just so sad when I'm talking to her and she's looking into my eyes...and I know she can't hear me...i think she must be confused...wondering why no sounds?

We have been constant companions for 14 years...we go everywhere together...I spend more time with her than any other family member...I guess I just hate the fact that I'm being reminded that she won't always be with me...selfishly I just want everything to go on as always.

Oh gosh, sorry but I'm crying my eyes out here...silly sod...sad

Sorry for going on like this...
Thanks

SnakeyMcBadass Thu 17-Oct-13 12:32:22

It's not silly at all. But try and take comfort from the fact that despite the deafness, she is clearly enjoying life still. I agree with the others' who said you should change your expectations of walks. Just head out for half an hour, and if you only get to the end of the road, so what. She'll enjoy the sniffing and being out. Stick your earphones in and listen to a book or something. She sounds like a delightful elderly lady who just has to slow down her pace a bit smile This is the worst bit about dog ownership, accepting the fact that they will leave us sad BUT, you are giving her a pleasant dotage where she is loved. That counts for an awful lot.

You are NOT being silly - you love your dog and want to help her - I go all gulpy too when I think about our lovely oldies.

If her hearing is going, there is a lot you can do with teaching hand signals that will help her. Also, what happens if you use a whistle? Dog hearing covers a different range of frequencies to us - have you experimented with this? There are some fabulous Deaf Dog Network pages on FB - lots of very active groups with masses of expertise - might be worth popping in to see if you can pick up some tips. smile

You might also find it interesting to do something like a TTouch workshop - you can communicate so much to your dog through touch and this very gentle massage is lovely. I took our 10 year old along to a workshop recently and she was completely blissed out by the end after having virtually a whole day of being gently stroked.

We get so much information and advice on puppies - but I think there is a huge need for support and information for those of us who love our oldies.

onedayiwillmissthis Thu 17-Oct-13 16:13:13

SnakyMcBadass - thanks for that suggestion...maybe take my ipod...i have got a couple of audiobooks I never seem to have time to listen to!

Scuttlebutter - we have tried with various dog whistles...she's totally oblivious to them...and although I do use some hand signals they only work if she's looking at me. I shall look up the TTouch...when we are home she's never usually more than a few feet from me...we even have two chairs pulled next to each other at the desk, so that she can curl up next to me smile...'course now she's deaf she sleeps really heavy (and snores) so I can sometimes get up, go to the loo or to get a coffee and be back next to her with her none the wiser...she always used to follow me everytime I left the room (I got her from a rescue when she was 11 months, and we've been overbonded ever since.

I guess because she's so fit and well (apart from the deafness and decreasing vision) I forget she's getting on...and as my previous darling girl had to be put to sleep by the vet when she was only 8 with distemper (yes, they can still get it even tho' they've always been vacinated) I have no experience of elderly dogs.

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