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My dog won't walk if it's just me and him

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by mjharper, May 3, 2011.


  1. mjharper

    mjharper PetForums Newbie

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    I have a Bull Terrier about to turn 3. I've struggled with this problem for over two years now; when I take him for a walk just me and him I can't get him to go more than around the block. He will pull the other way, stop or turn for home (90lb dog btw!)

    BUT, you get him with other dogs and people and last week he did a 9 mile hill hike!

    It's a real struggle to get him around the block and I have to pull and battle him, according to a dog behaviourist this stresses him out and he's bitten myself and more seriously my mum on one occasion after one of these 'battle walks'

    As mentioned above I have consulted a professional behaviourist for one session and she showed me how to use hot dogs or other food to entince him around. This worked a couple of times until he got bored and seemed to realise what I was doing, now it's back to square one.


    thanks

    Mike
     
    #1 mjharper, May 3, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2011
  2. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    So stop trying to force him, noone's enjoying it, and a dog really ought to enjoy it's exercise time. Furthermore the conflict with the dog is causing aggression in response, not a good idea with any dog.

    What places does he like to walk? I'm concerned in your local area, there's ingrained habit and the dog expects an unpleasant experience. Quite possibly the hikes with other company work because there's no association with the routine.

    The dog behavourist was trying to make the walk pleasant, but unfortunately food as a reward in the outdoors with distractions isn't always the reward that really motivates the dog.

    So I'm going to ask, what does your dog like doing with you?
     
    Sled dog hotel likes this.
  3. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    When you said you took him for a 9 mile hike with people and other dogs, was this somewhere entirely different to where he usually walks, maybe even you took him there by car?

    If so, maybe there is something around the home that he has developed a phobia about, where as in an entirely different area and with other dogs giving him confidence the association with whatever caused the phobia isnt there so he isnt stressed because it is an entirely new area to usual.
    With some dogs it can only take one big fright, and they can forever try to avoid the place where it happened.

    Trouble is the more you force them the more he will get stressed, they can then turn it into re-directed fear aggression and nip and bite. It can even get to a point where they dont even want to go at all, and try running away and avoiding when you get the lead out. A really stressed dog also wont sometimes take food and treats once they get to a certain level.

    If you have access to a car, and he is ok in the car, you could try driving him somewhere to walk him, if you live in an area that is quite busy with traffic for example, try taking him to a park, or a field or woods, and see if it makes a difference. Thats of course if you havent before. If he does well and is happy to keep walking and is relatively stress free, then maybe there is the the start of your answer. if its a park you can take him too, then once he seems calmer and is happy to walk, and its surrounded with roads, maybe try taking him out the gate and doing some walks along a road for 5 minutes or so and see what reaction you get. If he wants to turn back then maybe its traffic or roads, if he seems happy and carries on walking and doesnt seem stressed in "new roads" then that might narrow it down that its something in the vacinity of home, that he doesnt like and finds stressful.

    Just some possible guess work of course, but might be worth an experiment or two to see if it does make a difference. If you try these suggestions (as I said providing you havent tried them before of course) and it does work at least you have a possible cause, and you can then either come back or consult your behaviourist again or another one, who might be able to help more if you can narrow a cause down.
     
  4. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Just read yours after I finished mine, looks like we are thinking along the same lines.
     
  5. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Yes, I caught the unanswered post and rushed a reply as I was off. I was indeed thinking about starting walk with trip in car to a park, to make sure the dog could walk happily on LLW with a comfortable walking system, as a step towards going round the block pleasantly.

    I doubted it's phobia, as the dog wasn't stressed enough to ignore food lure before, with the behaviourist. So I was wondering what made this Staffie tick.
     
  6. mjharper

    mjharper PetForums Newbie

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    Doubt it makes any difference but he's an English Bull Terrier not a staff, they are notoriously stubborn!

    I have tried the car thing. I'll drive him somewhere and he'll keep pulling back towards the car instead of the house as he does on local routes. again this is if it's just me and him, with other people and dogs he'll walk all day.

    At the moment I have to rely on organised group or charity walks but obviously these don't happen every day!

    Thanks

    Mike
     
  7. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    No it doesn't make too much difference, the less specific "bull terrier" became Staffie in my mind when I replied to Sled.

    Ask yourself if it makes sense battling a notoriously stubborn dog, rather than discovering how to motivate it to enjoy the activities with you. What matters, especially if it's not just as simple as riding the car, is what does the dog enjoy doing with you, so you can change it's perceptions from the rather negative experiences it's been having, bits of hot dog alone or whatever soon become predictable and boring.

    Do you do some basic rewards based obedience training with it? Play some games in the garden? Do you feel calm and in control of the situation when he's with you?
     
    #7 RobD-BCactive, May 4, 2011
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  8. ClaireandDaisy

    ClaireandDaisy PetForums VIP

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    Is he fearful? If he`s ok in a group, it could be that he`s nervous of being out with just you because he`s learned that you force him on and (to his way of thinking) make it worse.
    I would start again, by building up a relationship with the dog. Train him in the house and garden - make it fun. Positive training makes a dog feel good (gives confidence) and also helps him learn to trust you.
    When he is happy doing things for you at home, ask him to do something in the front garden. (Use a line not a lead as he will associate it with his terrors).
    When he is relaxed, then try lead training..
    It`s either that or ask a friend with a well behaved dog to go with you?
     
  9. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Exactly and in the OP and follow up, there's just seems to be no thought or consideration, about what the dog is feeling and why. Only focus on the inconvenient problem. :rolleyes:

    I have a "Don't blame the dog!" rant coming on.
     
  10. mjharper

    mjharper PetForums Newbie

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    I'm not blaming him I've just tried so many things it gets discouraging. I'd walk him miles every day if I could, you hear about these poor dogs left home all day with no exercise and I really want my dog to be fit and healthy.

    He loves playing with his rope toy in the back garden, so I could try using this some how?

    This morning I took him out and let him go where he wanted with no attempt to pull or force him, he only went about 80 yards from the house but maybe he'll start to go further in time.

    Mike
     
  11. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Great! OK so you can use the rope toy as a reward, as well as food.

    Try in youd garden like Claire suggested, doing some obedience training, rewarding sits and things, with fun stuff, as well as food reward. May be find some other games and also try and have dog learn to follow you at your heel off leash, then on leash. You can actually exercise the dog and stimulate the mind, so it learns following you pays off.

    The aim is to build trust in you; and for you to know the dog will enjoy responding to you once it understand what you want. Then you won't feel like you have to fight it, if he's not complying there'll be a reason, distraction, fear or new situation that confuses him.

    Can you also look at this sticky thread http://www.petforums.co.uk/dog-training-behaviour/88630-dog-body-language-why-matters-so-much.html, if you know what your dog is feeling, then you can understand why he wants to go home, rather than walk.
     
    #11 RobD-BCactive, May 4, 2011
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  12. mjharper

    mjharper PetForums Newbie

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    I had a look at that thread last night, very interesting. I've also ordered a book on dog body language/behaviour, hopefully this will help me understand him!
     
  13. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    Would he walk with you and another dog? Maybe there's someone living near you who could do with some help walking their dog?
     
  14. LuvMyDog_Worldwide

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    *sigh*

    He's bored, with no purpose to the walk. Give him a 'job' to do. Make him 'work' for his walk. English bull terriers love to please people, which is why the food 'treat' didn't work so well, he sussed that as a bribe, if he has a reason to interact he'll try to please, which is like the 9 mile hike scenario. It could be as simple as a doggie backpack where he takes his toy somehwere to play with it, or get excited when you arrive at a destination and it's his job to take you there.

    regards,

    Austin
     
    #14 LuvMyDog_Worldwide, May 5, 2011
    Last edited: May 5, 2011
  15. edidasa

    edidasa PetForums Member

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    if he don't want to walk, leave him... ?

    if you want to force him to walk - you could.... sounds cruel, but you are the only judge (and jury).

    there's a possibility that the dog has associated something negative with walking with you. got scared during a walk, loud sound or something - scarred him for 'life' (it's possible!) but we can never know what goes on in his head.

    if he needs the exercise, play with him or run him in a place that he 'does like'.
     
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