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Dog refuses to leave driveway

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by RooH, Sep 13, 2018.


  1. RooH

    RooH PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone,

    I'd really value some advice on dealing with doggy fear as Niff is my first rescue dog and I feel a bit in over my head sometimes!

    We have recently adopted a 7y/o staffy-gsd-bulldog cross rescue who had been in the shelter a year (previous family had a new baby and the dog freaked out and guarded it) They said he had since 'become insecure in kennels'. He hated walks, so they would use a martingale collar and take off at a run, dragging him until he went. When playing in the yard by the enclosures he would continually run back and 'check' his kennel.

    I naively thought that once out of that stressful environment things might be different, but now he plants his feet on our driveway, pulls for home, tucks his tail, head down. The moment he's back in the house he's happy as Larry. We can get him out on walks only by bundling him into the car, which is ok for now, but I don't drive so if my partner is ever away I will have no way to walk him. He also shakes sometimes as he settles in the car so I don't think it's without stress.

    We've had him about 6 weeks now and he's an absolute baby in the house, very loving and playful. Barks and freaks out a bit with visitors, and is quite reactive to other dogs in the park (something we're about to start work on with reactive dog classes). He is happy being in a different room from us, sleeping downstairs when we're upstairs etc. He gets left alone for 3 hours max each day, and is not destructive.

    Things I've tried:

    - Scattering sausage & cheese around the driveway (he comes out but only if I'm crouching down, ie. he knows he's not going for a walk!)
    - Going out early when it's quiet (occasionally he'll go halfway down the road, then freaks out)
    - Going out for 2 minutes at a time only
    - Getting out 3 streets from home after the park and walking home (he's anxious but ok if he can't see the house. Once he sees it, crazy steam train dog)
    - Going out at a jog (nope)
    - Going really slow, opening the door and just letting him look out of it (avoids it)
    - Leaving it 3 days between attempts so I'm not continually triggering him
    - Throwing squeaky balls out (he carries them back in)
    - Going out the *back* door and down the alley (doable, but it leads round to the front and then we're in the same boat)
    - Using a no-pull Mekuti harness
    - Adaptil plug in and tablets (some success)

    He also guards the front window of the sitting room, barks and growls at anyone who goes past, so we have closed the blinds so there's only a thin strip showing. When he barks I clap and say Quiet, then sporadically reward when he stops. But I'm not sure how effective this is, it feels kind of like I'm joining in with him.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Are any of the 'things I'm doing' counterproductive (or on the right track), and do you think things might improve once he's been here for longer, or should I accept that this is ingrained and may not change?

    If anyone has dealt with this kind of thing before I'd really like to hear about it, even just as a reality check :)
    Cheers,
    Roo
     
  2. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    I suspect he came to you highly stressed and hasn’t really settled yet.

    I wouldn’t Clap when he barks as that might add to his anxiety. Rather just tell him Ah ah or That’s enough in a normal voice, call him away and treat when he does.

    I would be inclined to have a couple of weeks of just being at home with him using the garden. Do some obedience training to get him focussed on you and treats/toy/reward. He needs to feel confident you will keep him safe.

    Allow the stress hormone to dissipate completely and start again right from scratch.

    Put collar and lead on and just sit on the doorstep with treats etc. and gradually build from their. Don’t force him.

    If he never wants to go for walks no matter what you do, then I’d just keep him happy at home tbh
     
  3. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums Senior

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    Oh bless him, he sounds really troubled :(

    Did the driveway reluctance start after the reactive dog classes?
    I would worry that the reactive dog classes might be too much for him at this point. Those classes are really for dogs who are generally okay, just have some issues out on walks here and there. He sounds like he's more of a candidate for some good 1:1 training with a credentialed behaviorist.

    I would definitely stop trying to get him out. You're creating all sorts of anxiety associations with walking that are going to be hard to undo. A week, a month of no walks is not going to be the end of the world for him. He needs to get his confidence up first.
    Once you do start back up, or if he has a day he seems interested in going out, don't take him to his breaking point. Take him half the distance he's been fine to, and get him back home before he decides he's going to freak out. In other words, stop on a positive note.

    Also, I would stop clapping at him for barking, try to avoid all reprimands and startle tactics at all costs. He needs to learn that you are safe and it sounds like his confidence is too easily rattled at this point to tolerate anything but super calm behavior on your part.

    I really think you need professional help. Did you get him through a rescue? They really should be working with you to help with his issues. Do they have a behaviorist they work with/recommend?
     
  4. Heather65

    Heather65 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi Roo,

    In some of those respects I am currently in the same boat with our Lurcher we adopted almost two weeks ago. I posted in this same section of the forum (titled "House move anxiety or behaviour problem?") and had some advice from a few people that may help you, if you fancy checking it out!

    Gilbie was refusing to go out. Just sitting on the steps, shaking and terrified of people and dogs passing. In the last few days I've actually been letting him out off lead, which is risky, I know but he is so much more happy to go out now. His wee tail is up instead of between his legs and he bounds down the stairs. The trouble is he has no consideration of what a road is so tends to scoot into it whenever a person is coming up or down the hill. Thankfully our street is quiet-ish but I still have the fear and often end up putting his lead on. I do feel this has made a big difference to him, though. I'm desperate to take him somewhere he can have a good run around but I also don't drive and whilst we're not far from a park, he still won't go beyond our street and the one opposite (plus he's scared of dogs), so he's yet to get a decent amount of exercise. Do you think Niff would benefit from being let out of the house off his lead? Perhaps the stress of having someone running and dragging him has made him fearful of the lead. Which would be totally understandable!

    I feel like everything you've described are things that can be worked on. Not that I'm in a position to give advice as I'm new to this too! We have a dog trainer coming tomorrow. Hoping to deal with Gilbie's fear of dogs, people and attachment to me...
     
    RooH and Jamesgoeswalkies like this.
  5. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    Just want to say thank you to @RooH and @Heather65 for adopting unwanted dogs :)
     
  6. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    If you want to try him off lead on a secure area yes, but near roads I wouldn’t risk it.

    Apart from the dog being injured or killed on the road - worse than being stressed - there is the public liability issue and Dog Law to consider.

    On some roads it’s illegal not to have a lead on a dog.
     
    RooH and JoanneF like this.
  7. RooH

    RooH PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone,

    Thanks v much for the helpful and supportive replies. I've tried to quote & reply below (haven't used forums much before so hopefully it'll be comprehensible...)

    Thanks for the advice, it's actually a big relief to hear that I'm not being a terrible dog owner by not giving him walks every day. He's unfortunately been spooked by something in our garden too (could be noise from the building site 2 roads away) so we are playing a lot of ballgames in the house at the moment. I take your point on clapping too, think maybe I'll just keep the blinds down and avoid that stimulus completely for a bit.

    No, we haven't taken the classes yet. We are going to a seminar on it at the weekend and then the trainer will evaluate us/Niff, so I have a feeling she may also agree that it's too soon.

    This is really helpful, thank you. He's ok when in the park, but we've also just found a secure field we can hire where he can go bonkers chasing balls, so doing that once or twice a week seems like a better option?

    We did, and they are offering phone support, we knew what we were getting into tbh. As they're a 90 min drive away though I'm inclined to find somebody locally. I think you're right that we need 121 training.

    Awesome, thankyou. Good luck with your training session :) Re being lead-free, it's not an option for Niff as we live in the suburbs and I couldn't risk it with cars, pedestrians etc. We have him off-lead in a hired field, and sometimes on a 10m trailing lead in the park, but it doesn't feel safe even to do that for too long as he seems to attract off-lead dogs and can't cope with them

    Absolutely. Adopt, don't shop, all the way! It comes with its own learning curve, but so worth it.
     
    O2.0, JoanneF, Lurcherlad and 2 others like this.
  8. Kimmikins

    Kimmikins PetForums VIP

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    The whole “thou shalt walk thy dog every day” commandment really gets my goat sometimes, because it makes well intentioned owners like yourself feel like they’re failing as an owner when they can’t convince their scaredy dog that they really need this walkies.

    Fidget, my failed foster, very rarely goes out for a walk. This has been the case for the last 2 years; he gets offered most days (when it’s a promising time where it’s likely to go well) but he’ll often decline by taking himself to our bedroom or his bed. The BEST thing I ever did for him was to respect this choice. He is so much calmer and less apprehensive about the world.

    You’ve already received some excellent advice about how to increase his confidence and promote being outside as a lovely place to be. I just wanted to let you know that even if it never happens, he can still lead a rewarding life without walks. We train, we work on husbandry skills, we play games, we do some scent work, we learn some really useless tricks for fun...and he is very happy and fulfilled :)
     
    RooH and O2.0 like this.
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