Certain dog behaviors at times may leave us baffled. We may wonder how it may even be possible that certain dogs dread going on walks; whereas, others dream about it and the simple sight of a leash makes them all wiggly and happy. If you own a dog as such, you may be wondering why he is acting this way and how to help him become more confident on walks. The recipe to success entails loads of patience, time and a dash of expertise on how to deal with the problem.
Why Does my Dog Dread Going on Walks?
There may be various explanations as to why dogs may dread walks and each dog may have his own personal reasons. If your dog was recently rescued, he may have a hard time adjusting to abrupt changes in his environment. On top of that, you know very little about his past emotional baggage. Your dog may be overwhelmed by outdoor stimuli after living in a kennel for a while. Your dog may have been socialized poorly and may be frightened of cars, people walking by, noises and bikes. Your biggest proof that the outdoors is a frightening situation is the fact that when taken outdoors, your dog will frantically pull to go back inside.
Helping Dogs Frightened of the Outdoors
To us dog owners it seems odd dealing with a dog who doesn’t like to go on walks. We are often told how important it is to walk dogs, socialize them and exercise them that it seems peculiar when a dog doesn’t respond enthusiastically when it’s time to walk. Yet, just as people dogs are equipped with their own personalities based on both nature and nurture. So how can these dogs be helped? There are several options.
Establish a History of Trust
Would you grasp the hand of a total stranger who tells you he will hold you in case you are about to fall from a crevice? Most likely not! Or you would be tentative about it. However, if the person in question was a trusted person such as a beloved family member or a spouse, you probably would without hesitation. In order to encourage your dog to get out more, you’ll need to build a base of trust that reassures the dog that not nothing bad is going to happen to him.
Arm Yourself with Patience
Helping these fellows is hard work, there’s no doubt about it. These dogs need to learn that the outdoor world isn’t as frightening as perceived. They need very gentle coaxing, without overwhelming them otherwise the problem gets worse. It takes time to see results, but persistence is often rewarded if you are consistent.
Don’t Give Up
You may feel tempted at times to just let your dog be. Don’t, unless you have tried all options and your dog is a senior who is set on his ways. If you own a small dog or a puppy, do not feel tempted to pick him up. He needs to learn to walk on his own and explore the world on his legs. Truth is, your dog will live a much happier life once he’s able to face his fears and a whole new world unveils before his eyes.
Find the Right Incentives
We all need rewards to build motivation and help us fulfill our goals. Dogs are the same. Find high-value treats your dog is crazy for or engage him in a game. Anything that makes going outside as rewarding as possible. Reward your dog for every small step in the right direction. If your dog likes being around other dogs, find a friendly, confident dog to accompany him on outings.
Make Great Things Happen
You want your dog to associate going outside with fun. Once your dog starts walking more and more, take him to wonderful places where he can mingle with other dogs if he likes to or to a pet store where staff will give him a cookie. Avoid taking him to places he dreads such as the vet or the groomer, especially in the initial stages. If need be—don’t undo all the hard work; rather, drive him to these places instead.
Record Your Progress
After some time, the shy, tentative dog scared of the world should start yearning to go out, and maybe may even start wagging his tail in anticipation and pulling on walks. This is a good sign that your hard work is paying off. Pulling behaviors can always be addressed later. However, if after some time you do not see any signs of progress over the course of several months, this may be an indication that your dog may need professional help, or in some rare cases, you may have a difficult to solve case and your dog may just be better off living within the safety of his home.