By Chris Pitts, RVT, of Broadway Animal Hospital
Deaf or blind dogs can be great travel companions. Most of the issues these dogs have when on vacation have more to do with the disorientation they feel from being in a new place, and less to do with their physical handicaps. Since deaf and blind dogs rely on routine and often map out the lay of the land in their minds, keeping to a routine each day while traveling will lessen any stress your dog may have from being out of his normal environment.
Both deaf and blind dogs benefit from being on leash in a new environment. They will not get lost, and you can retrieve them quickly from danger, whether it be from falling into a lake, wandering into traffic or falling down a set of stairs. Being on leash also makes it easy for you to take your dog on a tour of his new surroundings as he is figuring his way around.
Bringing a bed that smells like home may help your dog have a space he can easily identify as his own. If you don't have your dog's own bed with you, try placing a shirt you wore on the area where your want him to sleep. The shirt acts like a marker, especially for blind dogs. Similarly, using his normal food, and placing the food and water in as similar a position in your vacation space as in your home space will help him to find them. Although deaf dogs do not have to worry about bumping into furniture as they figure out a new hotel room layout, they still enjoy a few reminders of home.
Keeping as close to your regular schedule as possible is helpful too. So, if you usually get up at 6 a.m. to let your dog out to pee, be prepared to snap a leash on your dog and get him outside at his usual time. If food happens at 6:30 a.m. at home, it should happen at the same time on the road too. And don't get too fancy with food. Most dogs tend to get GI upset when they have a diet change. Keep the food to the tried and true. Your dog's idea of comfort food is more than likely to be his normal fare.
Even though you may be trying to break the monotony of your normal routine by going on a vacation, your deaf or blind dog will feel more at ease if you can bring some of that home-style routine with you. So bring something that will remind him of home, give him a good tour of the new place when you get there, and have a nice time.