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Pulling *back* on leash (stopping on walk)

February 14th, 2009, 06:28 PM
Dear forum members,

I'm dogsitting two male chocolate labs who are 3 years old for a few months (they belong to my father-in-law), and I've noticed some odd behavior by one of them while on walks.

The slightly larger one, "J", is perfect.

The slightly smaller one, "W", will often pull slightly ahead, so I'll give him a little tug and get him back in line. Then every once in a while, sometimes after this happens, and also sometimes totally out of the blue, W will just flat-out stop and refuse to continue. He won't start again either for praise or treats.

It feels like a dominance issue; he's deciding that he won't play the game unless he gets to walk in front. So I've taken to just pulling him along and making him catch up, which he does, only the behavior doesn't stop. It also isn't consistent; I've been on a walk where he never pulls anything and is an angel the whole time.

Any suggestions? I'd like to exercise these guys, but I don't really like yanking W along, and I'm sure he doesn't like it.

(There's plenty more to say about these two guys. I'd say they're the bosses of the household, sneaking into their owners' beds, getting up on top of laps, on furniture, jumping up, etc. I'm just trying to find a way to exercise them healthily while I'm here; I don't hold out much hope for changing the behavior of someone else's dogs.)

February 14th, 2009, 07:49 PM
I'd get him checked for hip dysplasia. I had no idea that sitting down and refusing to move was one "symptom" - Bobby did that as a puppy and I thought it was a behaviour issue - it wasn't..

February 14th, 2009, 08:07 PM
I'd agree...and if the hips turn out okay, have some titers (or a 4DX snap test) run for Lyme's, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis--especially if the dogs frequent tick-prone areas. The tick-borne diseases very commonly have rotating (from paw to paw) or intermittent lameness as a symptom. One of our girls has chronic Lyme's and we can tell she's having a flare-up in part because she refuses to play or run in the yard.

February 17th, 2009, 04:29 PM
Thanks --- we may be heading toward a vet run; more on that in a sec.

Neither dog has any problem with unbridled energy, so I really doubt it's a medical issue or hip dysplasia, but I admit it can't be ruled out without a checkup. Still, they'll tear off and start playing very actively on their own once off leash, and I think I'd see some more evidence of physical malaise if it were a biomedical issue.

We've now found poop in the house dating from probably about 3am each night for something like 3 of the last 4 nights, in the same physical location. This morning, after picking it up again, I tried to more deeply clean the area, and that might help if the smell is helping trigger it. But here too, this seems like a good reason for us to take them both to the vet for a check-up.

Still, the pooping and behavioral issues on walks strongly suggest to me that the poor things (or maybe just one, it's not clear) are having a hard time adjusting to us dogsitters and are letting us know about it. It's the fourth week of about eight during which their owners are away.

February 18th, 2009, 12:30 PM
While some behaviors are generally attributed to dominance, IMO dogs do most things because they enjoy them or get some kind of reward from the behavior, not because they are trying to be dominant. That being said, if these dogs are used to sleeping in the bed, cuddling on someone's lap, and being allowed to walk ahead of the human on the end of the leash, then they are probably confused as to why these behaviors are no longer acceptable. Dogs like routine and changing that routine does require a period of adjustment.

The nightime accidents could be due to a change in their eating schedules or potty time schedules. I know my dogs would have a tough time adjusting if they were suddenly in a home without a dog door. Because they are used to being able to go outside whenever they choose, I would imagine they would have some accidents if that were to change.