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Puppy runs away

December 4th, 2007, 04:42 PM
I have a 10 week old puppy who runs away whenever anyone approaches him. He doesn't seem to be afraid of people, in fact he wags his tail and seems delighted whenever people are around, and loves being petted, but when he's on the floor and anyone walks towards him he runs in the opposite direction. I don't know if he's nervous because he's very small, or if he's playing, but it's becoming a problem since we end up having to chase him around even to put his leash on to take him out. I've tried turning my back on him when he runs; any other suggestions?

December 4th, 2007, 06:49 PM
I've been researching lately the different stages of puppy development. Here's a site that talks about it.

Just something I pulled up at random when web searching for "puppy development."

Did anything happen with people to make human contact unpleasant? Puppy underfoot and got stepped on? Shooting in the dark here...

Did you try food bribes? :laughing:

December 4th, 2007, 06:57 PM
No, nothing bad I can think of. He seems happy and well adjusted, and loves people. The only thing I can think of is that he's very small (still only about 4 lb) and is afraid of being stepped on... or that he's playing. This only happens when he's on the floor and anyone's walking towards him.

He doesn't really seem to care very much about treats, and isn't allowed any at the moment anyway due to suspected allergies, so that's out! Any other ideas?

December 4th, 2007, 08:33 PM
10 weeks is quite young, your puppy still needs an incredible amount of socialization. He will likely get through this fine but don't be surprised when he goes through other fear periods if this reoccurs (even if its been absent for months!). ETA - I am sure your puppy hasn't been with you long so this could also just be an adjustment period...)
Either way, I would start laying the foundations for an incompatible behaviour, for instance teach the puppy to hold a sit-stay/wait when people approach so that there is less chance of him getting caught up around your legs. You can also teach him to go to a mat or even hop onto a stool or foot rest until you release him.[I am assuming your dog will stay reasonably small so teaching him to stay still or go to a specific spot will ensure that he is never accidentally stepped on (which will only increase his fear of moving legs)]

You can try desensitization - so when he's eating or chewing a toy or bone you can slowly walk by from distance (far enough away that he notices but not close enough to make him scamper away)... Eventually make your way closer (toss treats occasionally but otherwise ignore him - you don't want to push him past his threshold).
Or you can make people walking by a wonderful thing - use anything that motivates your dog as a reward (could be treats, could be toys/tugging, petting, praise, going for a walk etc...) So anytime you walk by, make sure something rewarding is happening. Even when you are sitting you can feed or play with him and shuffle your feet (pair the scary thing with something fun so the scary thing gradually loses its scariness LOL)
Whatever you try, get down on his level when you approach to encourage him over (at first, then fade), Using a clicker and target stick might help (especially for a little dog you can smear a bit of wet food or peanut butter on a target stick - eliminates you having to bend down to reward which can also be scary for small dogs and you should instantly get a puppy that is glued to the target LOL).
Never call him over or walk towards him to do something unpleasant. And remember that's anything your dog considers unpleasant not what you think should be pleasant/unpleasant. Another big thing is to never accidentally reinforce this behaviour - so babying him and even running after him is not a good idea. It's much better to act oblivious to your puppy's actions until he is doing something right - then praise and reward the heck out of him!

I would also keep him on a light long line for now (I'm sure a cat leash will do)... It eliminates having to chase him when you approach. Evading is self-rewarding for the dog, not to mention an unsafe behaviour in the long run ). I wouldn't encourage reeling him in, I would much prefer he approaches on his own - so you may want to walk around with a bunch of possible rewards at first! Different squeakers work great. I would also use a toy attached to some rope or a lure pole (like a fishing rod)... Cat teaser toys are the best and it may encourage your dog to chase after you and gain confidence. Just make sure to quickly pair that with a sit or wait so your dog doesn't think its a game of tag (although at first that's fine, you just need to know when to set boundaries).

He doesn't really seem to care very much about treats, and isn't allowed any at the moment anyway due to suspected allergies, so that's out! Any other ideas?

There are plenty of treats that only have a single protein and carb and you can always make your own to be sure. Your puppy cannot be allergic to anything he has not yet come in contact with so I'm sure there's plenty out there. Generally you don't wanna use anything dry and bland - my dog loves baked liver and sweet potato, there's also a recipe online for "tuna brownies" that dogs go crazy for.
But remember, all dogs work for something (and ideally will work for multiple rewards) - you just need to figure out what that is... My dog will work for any morsel of food (bland or not) and it took a while to get him motivated by toys/tugging but we got there... Other dogs love toys/tugging/praise. And some are more of a puzzle - I saw a dog that was only motivated by aluminum pie tray's and pine cones... So you really need to figure out what motivates your dog and how you can use it to your advantage!

Good luck!

December 4th, 2007, 09:00 PM
if you are chasing him when he runs away, stop doing that,it will make the problem worse, because he may see that as fun and he will keep doing it. for now keep him on a leash so that when he starts to run away you can step on it, or grab it. also you could try: keep some treats or a small ball in your pocket, and have him in a closed space (big enough for you both to be in, like a small room with the door closed, gradually going to bigger rooms) and when he starts to run away just sit down on the floor and have a treat/ball ready, but dont let him see it ( you dont want to bribe him to come to you, cause what will happen if you dont have a treat one day?..he wont come to you) and just sit there untill he comes to you and when he does give him lots of praise and the treator toss the ball, this will also help you in the future with teaching him the come because he knows going to you is a good thing. i hope this helps :)