Blindscaping the Backyard

Radar approaching the furniture ring.

Radar approaching the furniture ring.

Radar happens to be tactile and depends a lot on his paws for finding his way. Although he knows the layout of my house and yard quite well, I use different textures to help reinforce his mind map. 

Indoor Textures

I have all hardwood and tile floors in my house. This enables me to use throw rugs and area rugs to mark or indicate different things to Radar. My house was built in the 1930’s so it has smaller rooms and is two stories plus a basement.

RadarSittingTopStair

Radar sitting at the top of the stairs on his fuzzy stairway marker rug after shredding a roll of toilet paper (hence the white tp on the floor behind him)

Stairs are of course a huge concern with a blind dog. I use fuzzy bath mats to indicate the top and bottom of the stairs. The rugs are dark brown so they are not very obvious visually, but they are very obvious to Radar. Radar knows when he is at the top of bottom of the stairs by feeling these rugs. I use a baby gate at the top of the basement stairs to keep him from going down those stairs unsupervised.’

Doorways and furniture can be obstacles for Radar so I use rubber backed throw rugs to denote doorways and large area rugs indicate different things based on the room. In the living room, the large area rug indicates the open space in the middle of the room and is Radar’s main thoroughfare through the room. The area rug in the dining room is what the dining table and chairs sit upon so in that room, when he feels the rug he knows to turn or he will run into the table or a chair.

Outdoor Textures

My yard is a fenced city lot. I have a sidewalk that runs the length of the yard on the one side so that provides a warning boundary on one side. My yard has a definite downward slope on the other side so that serves as Radar’s boundary warning on that side. The two short sides of the yard have flower beds with a stone border. These are a bit of an abrupt boundary warning but Radar prances and his toes hit the stones to indicate the boundary.

Radar with wood chip marked post

Radar with wood chip marked post

Obstacles within the yard have been more of a challenge. My yard is pretty open except for 4 obstacles: a tree, two clothesline posts, some lawn furniture and the kennel fence and gate. I discovered that the city I live in provides free wood chips. These are not the high quality wood chips like you buy, they are chipped from the branches discarded at the city’s yard waste sight. I used the wood chips to mark the tree, both of the clothesline posts and both sides of the kennel fence leading Radar to the gate opening. I also used the wood chips to form a circle around my lawn furniture since I do not have a patio and the furniture just sits on the grass/dirt.

Blindscaping with Snow Banks

Blindscaping with Snow Banks

This worked great until it snowed! All of the sudden Radar was running into the obstacles and boundaries because the sidewalk disappeared until I shoveled. The downward slope became less obvious and the stones disappeared. Not to mention the wood chips marking the obstacles were no longer “visible” to Radar. I noticed Radar was using the snow bank of shoveled snow from the sidewalk as an indicator so I decided to “snow bank” my yard. I shoveled a path about 2′ from the fence and piled the snow into a bank. I then created snow bank circles around the tree and clothesline posts. The snow banking worked like a charm and if I had wanted to ice skate, I could have flooded the yard and had a great ice rink!

FurnitureWoodChipRing

Wood Chip Furniture Ring

Eventually Radar may no longer need the “blindscaping” but as a youngster with lots of energy and play, he needs reminders of where the dangers are and these are pretty cheap methods to provide him with some security and reinforcement of his mind map.

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