Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

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Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

Post by keelann0604 on Tue Mar 13 2018, 15:40

Hi,

I have a nine month old female staffy who at the moment I am really struggling to get her to go out for a walk Sad
Up until four/five weeks ago she was fine, not always keen to put her harness on but once on and the front door open happy as larry to go for a walk, tail wagging all the time we were out... then about four/five weeks ago it all changed.... Sad Started one morning, left house as normal but a few minutes into the walk she suddenly refused to walk, insistent on turning round and dragging me all the way home, I allowed her to head for home but tried to encourage her to walk past home and in the opposite direction but no she was having none of it!

For the next few days after I tried to coax her out, some mornings getting her as far as just outside the door only to sit and refuse to move, I have tried picking her up, comforting her and walking with her to put her down a few steps further on and for a few moments she will walk and then about turn and head for home again. Now, shortly after this she came into season and I read that this can sometimes make them a little more nervous/skittish etc... and because I now needed to be very careful with her for the next three/four weeks I did not push the walking so much, I did try to get her out very early morning each morning on the lead for some exercise but again did not want to go, so we spent more time playing/exercising in the garden..

Now the season has passed and I was hoping that so would the nervous behaviour but it no....... If I go to get her harness she runs and hides, if I do get it on her she will not cross the front door, if I carry her out of the house and then put her down she just cowers and pulls back to try and get home. The only thing that I can think of that could have spooked her is a few weeks before whilst out a car back fired somewhere in the distance, at the time I honestly would say she appeared not bothered and carried on with her walk as normal but I'm thinking now could this be the reason? She has not been a nervous pup at all up until now, the fireworks didn't bother her one bit and she isn't spooked by noises when she's in her garden just when we leave the house:-/

I have a car, she travels very well so I have been driving her to the park and she seems quite happy doing this but the other day when I took her out to the local pet shop to buy some treats she was shaking in the back of the car and I am scared now that if she is that scared of walking for what ever reason she will associate the car with walking and consequently be scared of the car/travelling as well...

So sorry for the long post but I didn't think I could abbreviate it and give you the full picture of whats happening.... I have been looking online to bring in some trainer to see if they can help but I thought I would ask if anyone here has any advice please???

I really am at a loss as to what to do.... I don't want to push her and therefore lose her trust in me but at the same time she really does need to exercise and I'm worried that this isn't happening for her.....
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Re: Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

Post by LizP on Tue Mar 13 2018, 17:25

Fear is a funny thing (that's not as in funny ha ha), it can start so quickly and then build out of all proportion to the inital even. Here's my take on how it works, based on my work with scared horses when I was a professional trainer.

The initial fear starts for a reason. It could be, as you suspect, her season, it could be something that you'll never know. There would, though, have been a trigger. Then 3 things happen - the first is the survival instinct to avoid potentially dangerous things kicks in. It's logical that if something made you feel in danger yesterday (which is what fear is), it might well be dangerous today, in which case it's safest to avoid it.

The next is that (in my theory), fear feels horrible. It makes your heart race, it makes your breathing go up, it can make you shake, feel physically ill. I think this reinforces the initial fear, a sort of 'told you so', I thought that scary thing was going to make me feel bad and it does.

The 3rd thing is association combined with anticipation. Going for a walk induces fear, so things associated with that action, e.g. the harness, also become causes of fear. When she puts that harness on she's going to try and take me out, going out is dangerous therefore the harness is a precursor to that danger and to be feared as well.

Getting in a trainer is a great idea (provided it's a good, positive method trainer), but failing that, here are my thoughts on where I'd go with this.

It sounds like things are fairly well entrenched in Winnie's mind, and that trying to take her for a walk of any sort might only make matters worse. My suggestion would be to do something completely different. If you can, forget about walks for a while. As long as she has somewhere to relieve herself, she can live without walks for the moment. Instead, spend the time interacting with her through games. In particular, work on retrieving, using anything that she likes. If this isn't something she's doing yet, then now's a good time to start.

The objective is to get her listening to you, having fun with you, looking to you to keep playing fun games. This should mean you can play with her in different places and she knows it will be fun.

Once this is easy, and once you've got a short distance very happy fetch going, start taking that towards a safe door. By safe I mean one that's not directly onto the road, so the back door if you have one because ideally you don't want a lead on her. What you want to be able to do is throw the toy towards the door, starting from a point where she's not at all worried, working gradually towards the door when closed and then when open, building up at a pace she's happy with. Slightly concerned is ok as long as she can then give you 'oh, I thought that was going to be worse but it's in fact ok'.

What you should then be able to do is throw the toy ever so slightly out of the door, for her to go outside of her own free will to get it. Don't make a fuss of it, just play with her in and out then call it a day. Next time, you should be able to throw it further.

If you don't have a safe door, you'll need to have her harness on. You're going to have to crack this one anyway. I would use a clicker but that's not necessarily for everyone. If you do use a clicker (or would like to), the method is to teach her to target the harness for a click-treat, then work toward putting her head through it. Without the clicker, you could put the harness on the floor and put treats on top, so she has to go to the harness to get the treats. You then build that up to having the harness on top of the treats so she has to interact with it, then to you holding it, then to her having to put her head through it. As with the fetch training, this is all a great game, huge fun. She should feel no pressure.

Spend time on the over-the-head phase, putting it on and taking it off, before you move to doing it up. You want her to do this willingly, not just 'quick do it up before she runs away'.

I'd also recommend you having harness training sessions at random times of the day and continue to put it on as a game away from walk times for a while so that you're breaking down the association.

I'd then suggest a long training line, 5m or so, so that she's got the space to make her choices but she can't actually run off or anything. When you work with the real world outside door, put her harness and line on then you can work safely. What you want to be able to do is play your games near the door, then through the door, without any pressure from the idea of going for a walk. She should learn that this door thing just isn't a big deal, that going out is fun.

Hopefully, what should happen is that she looses her anxiety around the door, and that you should be able to go out with her, maybe just a short way to start off with, but out together with her on her line without stress.

Just go a few yards to start off with, then stand there for a few minutes relaxing, before turning back. Don't make a big thing of turning back and do it in different places, because you want to.

If you go too far and she puts the brakes on, just stay where you are. Don't turn back but don't press on either, just wait and relax. You should see her start to assess her options - it might take a bit of time to start off with - and one of those options should be to relax. That's actually all you want the first couple of times, just that she's not tense before you turn for home. Theoretically, she should learn that getting tense gets her nothing, relaxing gets her home. You might then also find that you can throw some treats on the ground for her to snuffle up - including some that are away from home.

This might be enough to crack it, because you're each time showing her there's nothing to worry about.

See how that all goes and let me know how you get on.

(and you thought your post was long Laughing )


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Re: Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

Post by -Ian- on Tue Mar 13 2018, 19:11

Brilliant post by Liz above.

What I would add are 2 things, is Winnie in any sort of discomfort? Nobody wants to walk if not comfortable and also, have you tried driving to a park (if able) and seeing what happens then?


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Re: Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

Post by gillybrent on Wed Mar 14 2018, 11:23

Liz's advice once again spot on!

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Re: Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

Post by keelann0604 on Wed Mar 14 2018, 11:33

Hi Liz,

Thank you so much for the advice that all makes total sense to me... Smile
At present Winnie will happily go out in our back garden, no problem passing the back door at all and happily spends time out there playing in fact she would play all day the problem only occurs when leaving the front of the house onto the street. Great advice re the harness I hadn't thought the way she perhaps see this, I have a clicker which I got to help with recall but to date haven't been to successful with but I will try it again if not the treat idea working with the harness is definitely to be tried..... I will keep you posted as to how we go on over the next few days - thanks again.
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Re: Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

Post by keelann0604 on Wed Mar 14 2018, 11:43

Hi Ian,

Thanks for your reply, Winnie is fine in herself, lively in top form, I've checked all her paws and felt all her legs for anything obvious that could be causing her problem. Being so young she has had numerous heath checks at the vets, granted not in the past five weeks or so but there is nothing that I can see that has changed... I have driven her to the park as this seems to be the only way I can at present get her to go for a walk, usual thing applies, play hide and seek and capture dog to get ready to go, but once we are there on the most occasions she has been fine, exploring, waggy tail, enjoying meeting and greeting other four leg friends, only once did she get spooked which was last week and there is some light building work going on near to the local park and one of the builders dropped something and she instantly refused to carry on and headed back to the car pulling all the way, we have been since though and she was fine? I took her out the other day just to get her in the car and take her to the pet shop to buy treats, thought I would show her that nice things do happen by wearing the harness etc... but when I went to get her out she was shivering/cowering slightly and I am really worried that by using the car to take her to walks, until I get the fear of walking sorted could..... possibly cause her to also see the car as now a scary place to be??
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I had the same problem

Post by francoise62 on Fri Mar 16 2018, 11:31

Hello, I can relate to you as it happens to us. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be patient.
My staff was scrared to go out and could not pass the house. She has been in my arms walking and was fine once she was far away from the house. One thing I have noticed, she hated wearing her harness. I stopped. She was still unsure but not so much.
I started taking her in my arm without a harness and let her have fun in the park which she loves and come back on the lead. She knew she could have fun outside. The problem was leaving the house. Forcing her was not a good idea.

I live in a very quiet road so it was easy to be in the front garden with the door open and wait for her to go on her own and see me. She got more confident.
Next steps, was on the pavement in front of the house. I have another staffie, which may have helped her.
Next steps again was without a lead walking when she was ready in the front garden, pavements and slowing increased to the end of my road.
I never forced her at the end as it made things worse.

She slowly gained confidence with treats, rewards, cuddle and lots of patience. She felt sometimes confident to walk on the road instead of the pavement so I let her and slowly went back on the pavement (she was on the lead).

You have to take little steps and be very patient and supportive.

Now my dog loves going for her walks and as soon as I put my shoes on she is at the door. It will happen to you.

Good luck.

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Re: Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

Post by keelann0604 on Fri Mar 16 2018, 13:43

Hi Fran├žoise,

Thanks for the advice, it's certainly good to hear that there is light at the end of the tunnel, just wish we were bit nearer to it Smile

Today..... when i went to just get my walking coat on she had hidden! She has never been bothered by the harness she has worn one since 12 weeks old so it all seems just so very strange, I have never just walked her on a collar (she does have the tendency to pull, although she was getting better) but maybe this is something that I should give a go and see how we get on.

Thanks again



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Re: Nine month Old Pup won't walk Outside

Post by -Ian- on Fri Mar 16 2018, 19:26

Good news that once at the park Winnie enjoys herself, rules out any kind of injury. If it's any consolation my Girl refuses to walk to the park, has done for a while now and did think that maybe she'd start again after her surgery but nope, she becomes a rock. Like you we have no idea why but pop her in the car and happy days.

I think the advice Liz has provided is spot on, let's hope her confidence builds quickly


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