Once, when you walked past a woman with an umbrella, and she reached down to stroke the dog, you saw his lip curl in a snarl. This alarmed you greatly, and so now whenever you see someone carrying an umbrella you tighten the leash, haul the dog towards you, and drag him away.
Indeed, things seem to be getting worse rather than better, and taking him for walks in the rain is impossible. A friend suggested putting an umbrella in the dog's bed so that he learns there's nothing to worry about, but this doesn't feel right to you. But this still leaves the question of how to handle his growing fear.
In addition, it's important to avoid actions that will make matters worse. This means never forcing the dog to face up to his fears, but counterintuitively it also means never soothing or petting the dog in a fearful situation.
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We’ve had Cash since he was 6 weeks old. He has recently developed a fear in assuming is shiny floors. He gets to the doorway and stops. The flooring goes from carpet to vinyl wood, he also has problems with tile floor and once he gets up the nerve to walk across it he runs which causes him to not have good traction. His nails are not long. He also turns himself around in doorways and walks backwards. The other day we were getting out of the car and he was to scared to get out. This is something he does regularly. We take him with us just about each time we leave except for work and date night.
Hello Nikki, I suggest having Cash's sight checked. If he is having issues seeing that can make him afraid of walking on reflective surfaces. While you are at the vet's also have them check his balance and his joints to make sure the issue is not his balance and stability. If he feels like he might fall that can make him fearful of jumping and walking on unstable surfaces, like slippery floors. If those things are fine, then probably something happened to cause the fear. It could have been something small, like a slip or something he wrongly associated with the floors. Gather several small door mats and place those in a line on the vinyl floor, spaced about one-and-a-half to two feet apart. Create a line of treats along the vinyl floor and mats to encourage him to walk back and forth between the small rugs. You can use his own dog food for this if he is food motivated, and you can cut back on his normal meal by that amount to prevent him from becoming overweight. As he becomes more confident walking across the mats and floor, then add about half-a-foot to a foot more between the mats. As he becomes more comfortable, then space the mats further and further apart, until you can remove the mats entirely. As you practice this, continue to replace the line of treats across the floor two to three times a day so that he will keep walking across it. He is likely scared to jump out of the car because it hurts when he lands. Since he is nine years old he probably needs help getting out of the car now. Hi jumps probably cannot handle the impact of the fall. Either support him while he jumps or install a dog ramp in your car. If he is overweight, then loosing weight will probably help also, but speak with your veterinarian about how to safely do that. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Just yesterday I was taking Dolce out for a walk and didn’t see him sneak up behind me when I stepped on his foot. He yelped pretty loudly and my immediate response was to pick him up and calm him down. I then walked a bit with him in my arms and put him back down. He was walking fine and doesn’t seem to be injured. The problem now is he shakes with fear when I take him on a walk. I have to carry him most of the way and he’ll only walk a bit. His behavior at home is completely normal. He used to love his walks and did great on a leash. What can I do to get that back? He’s also still perfecting potty training so he really does need to be able to go on a walk. I feel awful and I can’t seem to find anything online for this specific situation. Will he be like this forever?
Hello Tiffany, I would suggest gently rubbing his paw a bit to make sure that it is not still causing him any issues. If he acts like it is sore, then get it checked out. Carpeting in your home would make it less sore than hard concrete, so you want to rule out any lingering pain first, and if that is an issue, you want to address that so that walks are not causing him any more pain. If his paw seems to be completely fine when you are touching it and not at all sore anymore, then take him outside for a walk and create a line of treats, or toys if he prefers toys. Practice walking down the line and letting him pick up his rewards. When he finishes that line, then create more lines as you walk by dropping treats on the ground every couple of feet. Go on walks like this often until he begins to improve. To prevent him from over eating you can also measure out his dog food and use his dry dog food as treats if he is food motivated, especially after he is a bit less nervous. You might need tastier treats at first just to get him moving. When he is doing better, then space your treats out more and more so that he has to walk further and further before getting a treat. Do not pick him up or carry him if he is not injured, or that can make the issue worse. If he will not walk forward even with the treats, then put him on a long leash, such as a thirty foot leash, and get him excited with a toy and encourage him to chase you. Run back and forth and tempt him with the toy. Make a game out of walking and let him feel like he is off leash by using a long leash. As he improves, then you can gradually shorten the leash again. Continue to make walks really fun and pleasant every time that you go outside, whether that involves a game or treats. His view of being outside right now is fearful. He believes that something painful will happen to him again probably just by being in that location. The more experiences that he has in that area that are pleasant, the more that he should realize that painful experiences are unusual and pleasant experiences are normal there. Because he has gone on walks for so long and never experienced something painful before, he will likely recover overtime if you do not carry him everywhere and you show him that walks are still pleasant. Be patient though, and do not get discouraged if he needs a lot of practice outside again to get over his nervousness. Try to act upbeat and confident while outside. He will pick up on your emotions. Be his cheerleader. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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