Blind dogs have been banned from taking part in competitions after the Kennel Club ruled the activities cause the animals too much stress.The unexpected move has prompted anger among dozens of owners of blind dogs who say their pets have long enjoyed taking part alongside other dogs.The ban was introduced by the Kennel Club over fears that taking part in what the organisation calls Activities Disciplines causes blind dogs “anxiety and stress”.In a statement the Kennel Club – the UK’s leading body for the protection of the health and welfare of dogs – said: “It was felt that the stress of a busy, unfamiliar environment and the inability to see other dogs and their body language may potentially lead to hazardous situations and could cause anxiety and stress.“The Kennel Club is committed to the health and welfare of dogs competing in its various activities and considers this in the best interest of those dogs affected.”Introducing the ban it said it had concluded that “it is not in the best interests of blind dogs to compete in activities disciplines”, adding: “Following consideration by the Activities Committee and the Board it was considered that for the health and welfare of such dogs, they should not compete in any activities discipline.“This specifically relates to those dogs which have no sight whatsoever and does not directly apply to dogs with partial vision.”But the move has prompted an angry response from owners of blind dogs, who are calling on the Kennel Club to reverse the ban and allow their animals to continue taking part in organised activities and events.Nearly a thousand people have signed an online petition calling on the ruling to be revoked, claiming it discriminates against blind dogs who enjoy taking part in competitions.Joanna Holmes, who launched the petition, said: “As any moderately knowledgeable dog owner knows each and every dog is different. There are many dogs that find any of the activity competitions held by Kennel Club registered activity clubs stressful. There are often dogs, that we have witnessed ourselves, that find some of the aspects of the competition environment stressful. We have witnessed blind dogs at complete ease in the noisy and busy competition environment.Ms Holmes added: “If you were to ban all the groups of dogs that ‘could’ find the competitions and the competition environment stressful then all dogs would be banned for welfare reasons.“We feel that the rule is discriminatory and stops blind dogs from enjoying the stimulating activities that sighted dogs enjoy.”Owners of blind dogs say their animals benefit from taking part in activities, which they say provide their animals with “stimulation and enrichment”One owner of blind dog said: “I had a blind dog myself and know how well they adapt to life after losing there site. They accept their handicap and can continue living a full life. Not for one minute do they feel sorry for themselves.”Another owner, called Wendy, said: “A blanket ban like this is sheer discrimination. The owners of dogs know their dogs and what they are capable of. If a judge in any activity has a problem with the dog they can decide to discuss with the owner or the organisers as to whether a particular dog should not be working in their ring.”One blind dog owner called Elinor accused the Kennel Club of failing to properly research the issue, stating: “Dogs with compromised sight or even complete blindness use their other senses to ‘read’ signals from other dogs/people. The sense of smell and sensing of vibrations for example. Please re-think this poor decision.”The British Veterinary Association has however backed the ban, stating: “We appreciate that all dogs are different and that some with sight impediments may be able to undertake unexpected tasks. However, scenarios such as a competitive shows could be overwhelming and even distressing to a blind animal.”On the grounds of animal welfare, we support Kennel Club’s advice to competitors that it is not in the best interests of blind dogs to compete in such activities.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.