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Old January 19th, 2011, 01:21 PM
ihavefeet ihavefeet is offline
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My dog insists on walking only one route

Hello all, I'll start by saying that this is my first post to this forum; I found it looking for some help with a problem. I will try to be a concise as possible while still giving all the relevant information.

My dog Satchmo is what I call a pure-bred mutt, and is about 5 years old. I've had him almost 7 months. He came from a rescue group that brings dogs from Taiwan, so he was born a street dog.

Over the past number of weeks I noticed a gradual change in his energy level, and an increase in his nervousness and ability to be spooked by things. (Even at the best of times he is a very timid dog.) Last week I discovered that he had a fairly serious bacterial infection in his gut, and since getting that treated (he is still on antibiotics) he has regained much of his old energy and playfulness. However, one very puzzling behaviour persists. When we go out for a walk, he only wants to go in one specific direction; down to the path near the ocean by my house. Any attempts to take him elsewhere in the neighbourhood are met with extreme stubbornness and it becomes a situation where I drag him a little ways down the sidewalk and then give up, because it's so frustrating. He also will happily get into the car to go for a ride to a park somewhere, and once we are in a less familiar area he will walk and run anywhere.

Before his behaviour started changing due to what I now assume was his illness, he would be happy to walk anywhere so long as he was by my side. I could take him to the shops with me and leave him outside no problem, I could walk him to a friend's house to have a visit in the evenings. No more. He only wants to go on our regular walking route by the ocean, and that's it.

I would be very grateful for any thoughts on what might be causing this stubbornness, and what a good way to change the behaviour would be? I really want to be able to take him everywhere with me like I used to!

Thanks in advance to all who take the time to read and reply!
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Old January 19th, 2011, 01:50 PM
Mirela Mirela is offline
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Assuming that you have to turn right to get to the path by the ocean and left to go anywhere else, I would think that there must be something that spooked him while going left. A noise?, a smell? an aggressive behaviour - human or animal?, ...something must have triggered his reaction. Especially, as he is fine if you drive him anywhere else.

What you could try - if you cannot identify what spooked him, is to drive with him "to the left" then park and try to walk back towards your place - see if he stops, and where - maybe you can identify the trigger. Once you do that, there might be things you can do to make him comfortable walking anywhere again.

....as a last resort - turn right, then , right, then right again, and go whwre you want to...just take a longer route

Of course, all this is if any health concerns are addressed.
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Old January 19th, 2011, 03:15 PM
ihavefeet ihavefeet is offline
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I've thought about whether it was just something that spooked him, and I think that could be part of it, but it is not specific to going a different direction out the door. He refuses to make any detour off of the walking path along the ocean, even if it's to another area of the park, no matter how far away from the house.

He has always had a strong attachment to that route; he gets to run off leash and has bushes and beach to explore, so it's definitely the most exciting place to walk in the neighbourhood. I wonder if maybe I've had him long enough now that he's feeling comfortable enough in our relationship to try to start testing me, and see what he can get away with? (When I got him he was VERY submissive, and he's built up a lot of confidence over the months.)

Or,possible that he's still not yet feeling 100% better from his infection, and that he wants to walk in a place that makes him feel safe and secure (i.e. bushes and beach)?

cheers
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Old January 19th, 2011, 03:59 PM
Mirela Mirela is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavefeet View Post
I've thought about whether it was just something that spooked him, and I think that could be part of it, but it is not specific to going a different direction out the door. He refuses to make any detour off of the walking path along the ocean, even if it's to another area of the park, no matter how far away from the house.

He has always had a strong attachment to that route; he gets to run off leash and has bushes and beach to explore, so it's definitely the most exciting place to walk in the neighbourhood. I wonder if maybe I've had him long enough now that he's feeling comfortable enough in our relationship to try to start testing me, and see what he can get away with? (When I got him he was VERY submissive, and he's built up a lot of confidence over the months.)

Or,possible that he's still not yet feeling 100% better from his infection, and that he wants to walk in a place that makes him feel safe and secure (i.e. bushes and beach)?

cheers
Oh, then that ^^ explains a lot .
Of course he wants' to go where the fun is, not to walk on-leash on "boring" streets

And, yes, probably there is a bit of "all of the above" in his behaviour.

Now, joking aside, from a training point of view - it's not too good to let him dictate where to go at all times - try to make going where you want into a game or a training session - practice simple commands like "look at me" or "come" or "take it" while keeping treats on hand and taking small steps in the direction that you want to go. If it's safe to do so, perhaps a close game of "fetch" - but only throw the toy a few feet away at any one time - you want him be willing and able to go fetch, not ignore you because he's not comfortable getting away from you...
The important thing is to keep building his confidence and train him gently and patiently - after all, your loving care has to "fix" about 5 years of probably very hard life...
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Old January 19th, 2011, 06:45 PM
ihavefeet ihavefeet is offline
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Again, thanks for the reply. What you've suggested is basically what I'm doing. He doesn't play fetch; the only toy he shows any interest in is a food ball in which I feed him his kibble. But, I've been trying to use treats in the ways you suggested. I'll throw one 10 feet or so in front of us, and keep doing that down the block. Or, I'll have a few in my hand hanging right in front of his face, and if he is walking in the heal position I'll let him grab one every 20 seconds or so.

Mainly what I'm puzzled about is that this is a new behaviour and I don't know what caused it; he was the perfect on-leash walker up until recently. I could bring him anywhere; leave him tied outside a shop, or even bring him in if they allowed dogs inside. Do you think it's more likely that he has adopted this new behaviour as a result of feeling "off" from his infection, or that he's lived with me long enough to know that I'm not going to hurt him if he makes me mad (as others have done in the past, no doubt) and so he's trying to push his boundaries with me? It seems to me that I might want to approach the situation differently, depending on what it was that triggered it?

Also, sometimes if I walk really quickly and pull him along with me, eventually he'll give in and not resist. (He wears a harness, so I'm not hurting his neck.) However, I'm reluctant to do this, unless I'm trying to get home and have run out of treats, because I'm not sure if it is counter-productive or not?

Thanks again.
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Old January 19th, 2011, 07:46 PM
Mirela Mirela is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavefeet View Post
[...]
Do you think it's more likely that he has adopted this new behaviour as a result of feeling "off" from his infection, or that he's lived with me long enough to know that I'm not going to hurt him if he makes me mad (as others have done in the past, no doubt) and so he's trying to push his boundaries with me? It seems to me that I might want to approach the situation differently, depending on what it was that triggered it?.
I don't know if the infection/ felling off and subsequent treatment has anything to do with this behaviour - this is something that you should bring up with your vet though - it does not hurt to ask. I'm not going to venture an opinion from this point of view because I'm not a vet.

As for pushing boundaries - is this the only change in attitude you have noticed? If he's getting a bit more "cheeky" in general - yes, that might signal that he's getting confortable with you and testing boundaries - nothing wrong with that, as long as you make sure to set them, of course, and teach him what is acceptable and what not. You can't go wrong to get back to basics and treat him like a puppy until you both are happy with the results.
But; if this is the only thing that changed, then you're right to keep searching for what triggered it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavefeet View Post
Also, sometimes if I walk really quickly and pull him along with me, eventually he'll give in and not resist. (He wears a harness, so I'm not hurting his neck.) However, I'm reluctant to do this, unless I'm trying to get home and have run out of treats, because I'm not sure if it is counter-productive or not?
Thanks again.
It is a bit counter-productive because, inherently, you will get frustrated and Satchmo will pick up on it and get even more nervous - thus a never-ending circle. Plus, it's tiring for both of you...and annoying...
Of course, once in a blue moon you will have to do this, but the important thing is to try to minimize the occurences. It will happen, of course, that you will get into a battle of the wills with him and you're the one who should win ( you're the "parent that knows better ) and will have the patience to get this solved.

Oh, and feel free to come here and vent when things get set-back . It helps
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Old January 19th, 2011, 07:54 PM
t.pettet t.pettet is offline
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My dog insists

Perhaps something scared him while he was tied outside a shop waiting for you. That is a dangerous practice as many dogs are dognapped or attacked by other dogs and they're pretty defenceless while tied, can't even run away.
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  #8  
Old January 19th, 2011, 08:20 PM
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Sib.HuskyMom Sib.HuskyMom is offline
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I guess the reality is, you may never find out what "spooked" your dog, the key is to help him through it.

Kind of a different approach that I just thought of, but worth a shot, right? What if you had someone else walk him in the direction that he doesn't want to go in, rather than you?

I'm guessing that walks are probably turning into a stressfull situation. Whenever you want to go another direction, you probably tense up and get frustrated and perhaps a feeling of doubt before it even really starts, because you're already anticipating his reaction and his reluctance, am I right? Even if you're just experiencing a little bit of those emotions, your dog is probably picking up on it.

Whereas if you had someone new (like a friend or family member) come and take the leash and just non-challantly started walking in any which direction, would it trigger the same reaction from your dog, or would he see it as a fresh perspective and say "hey, they don't care, why should I?".

Just a thought. Sometimes it takes a village to raise a chile (I mean dog)...
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Old January 19th, 2011, 09:41 PM
ihavefeet ihavefeet is offline
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Thanks for the reply. My friend has been walking him sometimes as well, and he is just as bad, if not worse, with her.

I got a new kind of treat for him today that he's pretty nuts about (freeze dried liver), so hopefully that helps motivate him.

I'm thinking I might try using the off leash beach area as a reward for walking a couple of blocks around the neighbourhood first. If he refuses to walk any other way (with motivation from treats), I'll just bring him inside and try later. Then, if we have success walking up the block, then I'll loop around and take him to the beach for a little while.

The other half of the problem, however, is that he is starting to refuse to leave the off-leash, whereas before all this started he was absolutely great, and would sit as soon as he saw me starting to get the leash ready to put back on. I've been trying to get him leashed up at a random time, rather than when we reach the end of the path, and reward with treats if he doesn't duck into the bushes and hide, as has become his habit.

Cheers
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Old March 5th, 2011, 03:07 PM
jackardi jackardi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavefeet View Post
I got a new kind of treat for him today that he's pretty nuts about (freeze dried liver), so hopefully that helps motivate him.
I realize this post is over a month old, but is the freeze dried liver something that was advertised for dogs? I read an article about harmful food for dogs saying too much liver could result in vitamin a toxicity. "Raw liver or too much cooked liver (three servings a week) can lead to vitamin A toxicity. This can cause deformed bones, excessive bone growth on the elbows and spine, weight loss, and anorexia. Check the label of your canned dog food to be sure that it does not contain liver if you are giving your dog liver also."

Here's the article (I'm pretty sure I got it from one of the sticky-ed posts of this message board)

http://lacetoleather.com/fataltodogs.html
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