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Terrified dog(10 Posts)
Hi, I have a 2.5 year old patterdale terrier (I'm not sure if the breed makes any difference!) who is terrified to go outside.
He won't go into the garden for a wee at all, and when you grab his lead to take him out for a walk he hides. I've never known a dog to be like this, all the dogs I've ever known love a walk.
This all began around bonfire night. He was scared of the bangs and hid around the house, but the last couple of weeks he just won't go out. If you eventually drag him out he spends the whole walk scratching at your legs trying to be picked up. What can I do?!
Poor pup. How treat-focused is he? Did he enjoy going out before bonfire night?
I'm no expert, but if this were my dog I'd start without the lead - see how close to the door you can get with a whole bunch of treats and gentle positive reinforcement - calm happy voice, strokes and fuss if he's responsive to that, high high value treats. Start just before his point of fear, then slowly, over days/weeks, push a little further. Work up to you standing by the door, standing in the open doorway to the back garden. If he seems to hit a wall and not do it, retreat a few steps and then call him and reward; try to always set him up for success, and end the session with something good.
Maybe get some adaptil or something else calming for the dog in case there are fireworks near you on NYE - you could call your vets and see what they have on sale.
I would have a vet check to rule out any pain issues.
@BlueKarou he used to love a walk before the fireworks. Couldn't get enough of them!
He does love treats, I've been working on getting him to go into the garden and telling him how good he is, with plenty of treats. Playing with him all the time. A lot of attention. It's baffling me a little bit. I wish he could talk to me so I knew what bit he was scared of!
@Wolfiefan good idea. But I don't think he's in pain because he loves playing indoors? Worth s check tho
Collar and lead could put pressure somewhere? Plus playing is at his speed. Walking on lead is yours. If that makes sense.
I'd try him with an adaptil collar, after a vet visit to check for any foot issues (corns?) which would be worse when walking on hard surfaces.
How is he if you pop him in the car and go to the woods or somewhere else different and exciting with a soft surface?
My ddog2 hates fireworks, and an adaptil collar made a huge difference to him this year. I just put one on him today ready for New Year
@Wolfiefan you're right. Definitely worth checking out
@CMOTDibbler your post reminded me - I took him out in the car just before Christmas to the beach, and he LOVED it. It was the first walk he's properly enjoyed in a while
The beach is a good clue. It sounds like he associates the routine of walking with fear (of fireworks). Change as much as you can, get a new lead or even better a harness. Don't call him for a walk in the way you usually would. Use a different door if you can. (My friends rescue was terrified of doors when she got her, for a long time they had to exit the house through the back room window and through the garden gate).
Basically think carefully through everything he would associate with a walk and change as much as is humanly possible. For the meantime going in the car to new places (it can be the same new place) would probably be a very good idea.
Def worth going out in the car to places and making it a lovely experience with lots of high value treats to restore his confidence then. It doesn't need to be far - we sometimes drive a few minutes to get to the easier end of the woods (its disgustingly muddy into them from our side at the moment), but it helps if it is something good so there is an immediate reward
Poor little thing 🙁🙁🙁
Definitely worth a visit to the vets to rule out any physical reasons, then a session or two with a behaviourist to give you some assessment & guidance.
I really feel for both of you x