Problem with taking walks! Help please

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by starkisser24, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. starkisser24 New Member

    Hi All!!!

    So here is my dilemma! my 7 month old chiuahuah Toby will not take a walk anymore! when I first got him I would take him for walks every night, not very long ones and of course there was alot of him sniffing grass and being slow, but he walked and once you got him going he was great! then I started having medical problems wasn't breathing good (found out I have asthma) so the walks pretty much ceased, that went on for about 3 weeks, well, here recently I got the asthma under control and want to walk with him again! however, it's like he's never been on one! he will walk outside to do his business and then come back in with a little hesitation but walking, forget it, he acts like he's scared to go far and won't follow me and is behind me all the time or just sits down and won't go any further.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? treats don't work with him outside believe it or not!

    thank you in advance! I couldn't find any help with this, only found dogs who pulled ahead on the leash and that's not the problem with this one!


  2. ryleighgirl New Member

    If he normally likes treats then he isn't taking the treats when he is outside because he is stressed. Dogs won't eat when they are stressed. You might just have to start by giving him treats when he is at your doorway. Try starting out with really short distances. At first only go to the edge of your yard and give him treats or a toy. Then take two more steps past your yard and give him another treat/toy. If he stops taking the toy or treat you reached his limit. Go back to the edge of your yard and then repeat until you get to a little before where he stopped taking the treat/toy. Then go back home so you don't push him, and each day try to go a little further. Try to always end on a positive note not where he sits down and freezes up. Another dog that he likes going on a walk with him might help too. Eventually he will realize walks are a good thing. If you just can't get him to take to take treats or a toy try bringing him to a park or somewhere where he has never been. Somewhere that is quiter with few people and dogs so it won't be as scary.
  3. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Did the medical problems start when you were walking him? If you ever an asthma attack ever started during a walk or you generally just felt crummy when you usually walked him, he may have developed a negative association with walks. (NOT that walking your dog when you're sick will make your dog hate walks--what I'm saying is asthma attacks, when severe, are very stressful. If you'd never had one before and then all of a sudden started having severe attacks in the middle of a walk, he's not going to know how to handle that or what's happening to you.) Let's say your asthma is severe, and while you were walking the little guy your body became tense due to an oncoming asthma attack. If this happened even a few times, little Toby probably picked up on your tense, uncomfortable body language and perhaps he thinks walks are scary and dangerous now.

    There's a million reasons why he could be doing this though. When you get his leash, how does he react? If he's scared just by the leash, then you have to start there. Some things you can do:
    Sit down with the leash in the floor and a handful of treats. Click and treat every time he comes near it. After several times, don't treat. Wait for him to nose it or touch it. Click and treat. This will help him create a positive association with the leash.
    Clip the leash on him at random, IN HOME. Put it on him at mealtime, every mealtime, so he starts to realize that the leash means good things, not danger.
    Walk him around the house on-leash. Since the house is a safe zone for him, he should adjust to this very easily. If he's doing well here, then start walking a couple steps out the door, then back inside, and end the lesson. Do this several times a day, and when he's comfortably walking out the door and back in, walk further out the door. If he's still kind of uncomfortable, take treats with you. Hand him treats at random. You could even just sit outside on leash and feed him treats; you don't even have to walk at this point. Work in tiny increments--maybe start with two steps out the door, then 4, then just depends on the dog. Never move to a further distance unless your dog is 100% comfortable at the shorter distance. Work your way up until you can walk 10+ steps from the door, and from here just keep treats handy and remember to keep working in small increments. Eventually, Toby will be completely comfortable again with taking walks. :)
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Great ideas, as usual, Tx.

    Your dog may have interpretted your asthma attack as 'fear signals' from you during the walk.

    Starkisser, i saw a similar problem on a tv show, they drove/carried the dog who didn't like to take walks a block or so away from his home, and then the dog walked nicely on leash to GET HOME again, and that helped the dog get over his problem with walking.

    You might try carrying/driving your dog to other areas around your block, and stopping, treating and praising the dog, play with the dog, just quickie brief lil sessions, to show dog being over here is great fun thing, "i like it!!" kinda thing.

    They also invested in an entirely new leash and threw the old one out, who knows if that also helped.

    My own dog, Buddy, is not nearly as comfortable IN THE DARK as he is in the daytime. YOurs might be the same. Not sure when you say "at night" if you mean 5pm or 8pm...etc

    We usually walk Buddy off leash in the daytime, IF there are no other dogs or people or cars, and leash him only for those things. (we took months and months to get him to that point).

    But, if it is dark outside, and he is off leash on a walk, he is so alert he seems uncomfortable, and weirdly, if it is dark outside, he seems more comfy and relaxed ONleash..ha. So, if it is dark, we keep him ON leash, and he is way calmer. Go figure. but, i guess that doesn't especially apply to your situation, just thought it was interesting.

    Buddy's teacher said some dogs see a leash as a comfort, a familiar thing, and don't feel as 'in charge/on their own' or something...who knows, maybe that is why Buddy is happier on leash in the dark.
  5. starkisser24 New Member

    Thanks Everyone! Sorry it took me so long to respond!!!! it's nice to finally be on a board that has helpful people!!!!!!

    When he needs to go out, he goes to the door and sits so I can put his leash on with no problem and has no problem going outside across the parking lot to the grassy area to do his business (we call it poop hill, lol), he will walk around there no problem! of course if people come outside or another dog comes around he starts barking (i am working on bark control), but If I say take him back towards the house to go inside he wants to sniff around and won't come inside when I say "toby inside" so I normally will go pick him up and bring him in, however sometimes he will go running to the door if I say "lets go get daddy"! but if I try to say take him for a walk around our neighborhood (we live in townhouses that are connected to one another and he is always on a leash), he will walk a little, usually behind me and won't go far at all adn won't respond to me, treats don't work, he just wants to go off in the grass and sniff!

    Here's an Expample: The other day I wanted to walk up to our mail box (up front of the community), so I had to take toby, I put his leash on and we came out the door, he walked about 2 feet started sniffing, i pulled him over to me lightly and said come on lets walk, he walked a little more behind me as usual and started doing it again, so I picked him up and walked that way with him to the box, I then put him down to get the mail and then he walked all the way home!!!! seems like going is a problem but coming back is fine!

    so I am thinking that Tigerlily found a good solution! I'll try that as soon as this darned rain clears out!

    OH and to address my asthma, I didn't have an attack on a walk, I just had been short of breathe and stopped taking him out on walks because I didn't know what was going on with me. I think also that since we are in such a small busy neighborhood that all the people that were coming out and saying hi to him and the cars driving by and in and out were stressing him and I didn't know that and maybe he developed a fear and sniffing grass is his way of dealing with it? all I know is if we are on the way home he is walking just fine right out in front of me! the only time he walked beside me is when we first got him and we would go on walks and I would hold the leash tight so he had no choice but to walk beside me and he did get used to doing the loose leash walking, but of course once I stopped he stopped!

    I am going to try him on the long sidewalk that runs outside our community by the road (there is plenty of grass between the road and the sidewalk thank goodness! that way there might be cars going by but noone to stop and greet him! will see how that works1

    I will take any suggestions if you have any more! I need exercise when I get home and want him to walk with me so I don't have to leave him at home since he's already been in there all day! and my husband won't be bothered by him!
  6. fickla Experienced Member

    I just want to throw in that sniffing can also be a sign of stress in dogs. so that combined with the fact that Toby won't take any treats really has me believing that Toby is stressed for some reason. And going home is fine since that is the direction that Toby feels safe.

    Usually for dogs who don't want to walk and would rather plop their butt down or sniff (normal sniffing), I just keep going. Unless you have taught a dog that digging in their heels pays off by either you giving in and picking them up or going home, most dog will only drag a couple feet before walking. As soon as the dog starts to follow me I release all tension on the leash. However, I would be very hesitant to drag a stressed dog. If Toby is anxious and you drag him, it could make things worse.

    I would also recommend just doing some walking in your house, and any other area where toby doesn't have any bad connotations. Praise and treat like crazy. Maybe even teach Toby to follow a target stick so once he is a master at walking inside places and different neighborhoods, you can try the target stick in your own neighborhood.
  7. starkisser24 New Member

    The more I got thinking about it last night the more it made sense! that poor little dog has been thru a couple of things that, well, might have made him stressed about going out at our place! a neighboors dog (we call him psycho dog) got out accidentally one day and bit toby on the leg, enough to scare him, so of course whenever that dog is outside or he even thinks he's coming out he starts barking that direction, so the neighboor doesn't bring the dog out when we are out (I am guessing out of courtesy). then a couple larger dogs (german shepard and a pug) came sniffing at him one day and he was all scared. there are alot of dogs in our place and alot of them are large, I take him out normally when they are not around or I keep him distracted while they are out and it works. the only other thing I can think of is that I am not a big fan of the outdoors myself and of course after he does his business I want him to come in since all he does is walk around and sniff stuff adn won't move an inch so of course my stress is there, I don't mind being outside after work, but in the morning I want to go in right after he does his thing. Also, since I have developed asthma and allergies, well it's not all that comfortable for me to be out! before all this breathing crap came about, I had no problem! I even planned on taking him for walks in the morning and then when I got home from work! then this asthma business started and well, I hate it! I am still goign to doctors to get it figured out and under control so hopefully that will happen soon! not too mention the weather in florida is horrible! it's either super muggy and nasty hot or like this morning it was cold and rainy! if I could talk my husband into it, i would have this dog litter trained! but he doesn't like the idea!

    I am going to buy some hot dogs and cheese this weekend and start seeing if he will take those as treats outside! then start working on the things everyone has mentioned! Even if I have to take him outside my community to walk, i'll do it!!!!!

    Thanks for your input and support! it means alot!
  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    I think this lil dog is gonna be a lucky lil dog to have an owner who cares so much to try to understand the dog's point of view!!

    Off topic, but asthma is notoriously linked to anxiety, even without muggy, allergies, or whatever, plain old simple anxiety alone (well, no anxiety is that simple) can close up the bronchial tree!!!! (i'm a nurse). This knowledge does not neccessarily mean, one can easily control their own biofeedback to avoid the whole snowball thing, but, is good to know. Knowing something, and being able to control it, are two different things. But, still, it can help to know.

    I had a close pal, who was wicked asthmatic, adult onset, oh yeah, on tons of pills, many inhalers, and still poorly controlled. Her chest xrays were awful. She got bronchitis often. Occasionally, she had to use oxygen, too. Bad case of it.

    When she left her husband, amazingly, her asthma disappeared. She got off all her meds altogether. She and i were both fascinated with this. (not that this extreme case applies to you, but just to show my point, that some settings can set off various bioreactons in our bodies). so, maybe a whole other area to walk in with your dog, may help you breathe better, or not, but maybe worth a try.

    Maybe you also don't like something about your own area, maybe in the back of your mind, you worry about the other dogs biting your odg again or something, and so you might find walking in some park or some other neighborhood more relaxing and less stressful. When i take Buddy to our city park downtown, i think, to Buddy, it IS heaven. He can't stop smiling, and i do believe he laughs there. Yes, he does. which, of course, cracks me up, too.

    I love using hotdogs, minced up tiny, for treats, cuz they do have presrvatives so i don't worry as much about they're going bad. Fickla is right, all her advice there is good.
    It is A HUGE CLUE if your dog is NOT taking a treat, usually means he is WAY stressed, = is way past his limit of stuff he can deal with. LIke Buddy's teacher puts it, "You are asking too much of him." if that happens. How great you were able to identify the things that may have set your dog up to not like that area where he shuts down.
  9. starkisser24 New Member

    Thanks for the astma info!!!! I have no clue where it came from! only thing I can think of is that it came from smoking! I quit a few months ago and am falling apart! lol! doc has me on sinulair daily and I have an inhaler, so far the singulair is working, but just had some tropical storm weather blow thru and i've been miserable! so heading to a pulmonary doctor soon!

    You all make such GREAT points!!!!! I want Toby to be a good dog!!! He is such a cutie pie and I feel like I made a commitment to him as his "Mommy" and I want him to succeed!! My husband thinks I am putting too much pressure on myself and toby to be good, and maybe I am and it's rubbing off and making toby stressed, I guess it's like having a kid! We tend to know better the "line" to draw with a childs behavior, however when dealing with an animal, a Dog, if we have not had one before, that "line" eludes us! I, being a first time owner have no clue how much wiggle room I can give him behavior wise! I don't want a dog that is a "robot" so to speak I want a fun loving well adjusted dog that is allowed to bounce around! and I'm glad i found this board! you ladies/gentlemen are showing me the "line" slowly!

    I plan to arm myself with all this knowledge and hopefully have a dog that will walk with me anywhere!!!!! oh and be able to breathe!!!!! oxygen apparantly is very important!

    Thanks again!:msngrin::msngrin:
  10. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Ha ha, you're funny!! ha ha!!
    You will do fine, your dog will be loved, once you learn a few things like i had to learn, too, HA! i had to learn so so much, but your lil dog will let you know when he is done, when he can't take stuff.
    When a dog is done, you really can't much force them to do anything, but you can jsut change direction, move to another area, or move to another activity, or, take a break.
    YOu will learn his own lil signals that he is stressed, and do feel free to ask if stuff isn't coming along. My gosh, i had to ask a 100 questions, as others here can vouch!

    you are right, it takes some practice and learning--BUT WOW-- what a return for your efforts!!

    I wouldn't worry too much about your dog becoming robotic, you sound like a very loving compassionate person, your dog will probably always love playing, in areas he feel safe in.
    Who knows, as his lil confidence grows, that he won't be bitten anymore, he may learn to be more comfortable in his own area where he was bit once before.

    It sure can be confusing, i have a dog with "issues", and i had to learn so much from scratch, but, dispite my mistakes i made here and there, Buddy kept giving me more chances to get it right, and he bloomed along dispite my lack of knowledge of how to help him. I loved him, and he figured that part out, and that did help him, til i figured out what means what to HIM!! HA HA!!

    Lotta folks, when they realized how little i knew about dogs with issues, recommended to me that i read "The Other End of The Leash", is great book! And stay away from dog whisperer and do watch "It's Me or The Dog" ---Victoria Stillwell is good example of positive method trainer.
  11. starkisser24 New Member

    There is most certainly alot to learn!!!! I am realizing that and I know I'm not alone and that's the great part!!!! lol!

    After all this talking about walking problems, last night Toby would not go to sleep! I am working off of a combined 2 hours, took him out, played a little with him, put him back in his little house and about every 1/2 hour he was banging on the house and barking! I'm hoping it was one bad night as we have never had that problem with him! not too mention my asthma hit an all time high last night adn I ended up at the doctors this morning doing a nebulizer and getting a script for steroids! so taht didn't help it all either! we didn't change anything about the routine so maybe he just got a bug up his little butt! who knows!

    either way, i'll check that book out!!! and Thank you again for all your support!!!!!!!
  12. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Who knows if this liveliness in Toby is a "bad" thing?:msngiggle: MIght mean he is becoming comfortable to be his real self, and now, due to your efforts, is realizing, "That outside stuff is good! Let's do that again!":dogbiggrin:

    Here is a tip for that, if you don't/can't help him walk if off: (of course, there is nothing nicer for dogs than taking walks, helps them balance andrelax, and burn off stuff and explore, walks are like air to dogs....)

    ONe thing, i found out, with my BC, who i rescued right before the winter(severe ones here, like -10 below) is this:

    When Buddy got antsy, and it was just too freezing to be out long enough to burn off his energy, i quickly discovered---that if i take even 5 minutes to TEACH HIM A TRICK---that exhausted him, :msnhugegrin:settled him, contented him, he often laid down and took a nap after training sesssions.:msnhugegrin:

    So, next time Toby is all antsy, begin to try to teach him a new trick. Not sure if you have a lotta knowledge on that, but, first sessions are always super SHORT in time. LIke even 2 or 3 minutes is enough for beginner dogs, maybe 5 minutes TOPS.
    YOu want to end lesson BEFORE your dog zones out or becomes bored of it, end while he is still "with you" on the lesson. Might only take 1 or 2 minutes for some beginner dogs.

    USE ONLY POSITIVE REWARD method. You ignore wrong responses from Toby, do not say "no" do not scold, of course you would not.
    When Toby even comes close to correct response, click and reward that effort. End ALL training sessions on positive note, and play with Toby afterwards, so that Toby learns to LOVE learning tricks. Be enthusiastic, our dogs LOVE it when we are enthusiastic!! Make him proud!! Let him know, you thought that was GREAT!!

    ALL THIS TAKES ONLY MINUTES, LITERALLY MINUTES A DAY!! It is A GREAT INVESTMENT in the bond you and your dog will have.
    This should be fun to you too, might even help distract you, calm you on bad asthma days!

    I tell ya, this trick training is therapeutic for antsy dogs. GIVE IT A TRY!!

    You can repeat the lesson a few times a day, but keep it SHORT, keep it POSITIVE, make if FUN for your dog, and ALWAYS follow it with a play session, something Toby enjoys.
  13. starkisser24 New Member

    Sorry was gone so long!

    so figured out that I don't have asthma! had silent acid reflux acid was going into lungs so am now on prilosec treatment!!!! didn't post sooner as breathing got real bad and work was getting behind!

    SO Toby is doing alot better!!!!! now that I can breathe I decided to take him to a long sidewalk outside our community and WA-LA! he walks, ok change that runs! like the wind! loll!!!! so going to work on doing that 3 nights a week and making them longer!
    he learned how to high 5 so we do that after he does something good or listens! lol!

    i'm working here and there on the door thing! keeping him from running to it and letting us out w/out him being "right" there, but need to get some hot dogs! ones I bought went bad when my breathing got worse!

    So I think we might be on the right track! now only I could get him to sleep in on the weekends! lol! anyone know how to train them to do that!!!!

    again I appreciate all the help and comments and Tigerlily: training them to do something does wear them out!!!! keeping that trick in my back pocket!:dogbiggrin:

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