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How do I handle a large dog that lays down during walks?

asked 2016-06-13 00:31:53 -0600

I am a dog-walker on Rover and I am having major difficulties with one of my client's dogs. He is a year old husky who was recently adopted from a shelter after being abandoned by his first family. He has very severe seperation anxiety and trauma which is causing a lot of behavioral problems. One of them is that he will often lay down in the middle of a walk (usually when we get close to home, but sometimes even before that) and refuse to get up. He is quite large and has bit me once before so I'm apprehensive about forcing him up. He is actually a very sweet-natured dog and he likes me, but he gets so distressed about going back home. I have back to back appointments, so I don't have all the time in the world to wait around for him to get up. Any advice on how I can discourage this behavior or help him to feel happier about going home? He is not very food motivated, so treats don't work very well as a lure, especially when he is stressed. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

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answered 2016-06-13 11:46:13 -0600

Since he is only 1 year old and a husky breed he may need a longer walk. I assume it's a 30 min slot. I don't offer dog walking so I'm not sure if it's meant to be 30 min walking or 30 min includes taking leashes on and off and refilling water. A husky would be better with closer to an hour walk if the owner would book it. You could also let them know how a well exercised dog exhibits less undesirable behaviors i.e. barking, chewing, jumping. I've had the same problem with a dog and when I get close to a trigger spot I say "you are walking so good today" and get the dog to start jogging until we're past that area.

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Love this idea. Great tip -- thanks. I haven't had this problem yet, but will keep in mind

BJ A.'s profile image BJ A.  ( 2016-06-18 06:06:31 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2016-06-13 01:27:57 -0600

I see you said that since he is not food motivated, using treats has been unsuccessful. Is he by any chance TOY motivated? Would bringing a concealed squeaky toy with you on the walk, pulling it out and squeaking it when he's laid down and using it to somewhat lure him back to the residence possibly help to get him moving again? Just a thought

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Very creative! Another great idea to add to my dog-walking knowledge.

BJ A.'s profile image BJ A.  ( 2016-06-18 06:07:06 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2016-06-13 11:06:21 -0600

If it were me, I would try to make it so his self-created breaks are unpleasant. If he hadn't already bitten you I would stand there as if I'm enjoying the break too, but like the rude guy at the airport or bus stop: increasingly shuffle/shift my feet into his space. If he has any sense of you being the pack leader (which he may not since he bit you) he should feel like he's laying in your spot, get up and move. Then you stand next to him again, go through the same slow/confident crowding that space. (Each time, when he moves, "ok, let's go" and try to walk.).

Something else along the same lines, but less directly dominating/challenging would be to throw a sheet over him. "Oh yes, what a lovely day for a picnic" and unfurl the sheet over him. :) He's losing control of the space he's claiming, being dominated, but it's not you doing it (directly). I've never seen a dog who would lay under a sheet for very long, unable to see what's happening around him. When he crawls out out, "ok, let's go."

He might see that as a game. That's ok, he's moving, you're in control (your redirecting him without being overly coercive/confrontational). Make it so his laying down doesn't pay off, he's not going to enjoy himself for half an hour. You're going to claim his space by standing over him, or cover him with a sheet (removing all control he has).

If he's dominant (and especially since he's bitten you once) it may be better to have someone else work with him. It's all about attitude. He might need a fresh person he hasn't tested yet.

EDIT: Something else I would do is regularly stop during the walk (let him lay down). Reinforce that it's ok when you initiate it. Maybe if you give it, you can take it away without him feeling he's losing something. Practicing that should habituate his mind toward you being the leader, in control; and you're fair (you're not taking away his choice, you're taking away your choice).

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We are all aware that "dominance" and the pack mentality has been thoroughly debunked, and that Cesar Milan is a tool who taught himself (the wrong information) right?

Maxwell W.'s profile image Maxwell W.  ( 2016-07-18 22:33:06 -0600 ) edit

I would never ever attempt to crowd a dog's space, especially one that is not your own pup. He could be laying down for a variety of reasons and if it is anxiety, fear, or health related, crowding his space will only exacerbate the issue and may even lead to a fear bite.

Lisa P.'s profile image Lisa P.  ( 2017-10-24 08:33:23 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2016-08-05 22:06:22 -0600

Hi Lindsay: I know I'm late in answering this, but how are the walks going now? If you're still having problems, I suggest either booking 2 back to back walks like others have suggested, or doing a drop in visits with lots of play time, every other time or so when you have a stay. From what I can tell, barring any physical barriers/fears, it seems like the dog doesn't want to go home and be alone. By switching up walks and drop ins, your behavior is less patterned and less predictable. The dog needs exercise and a potty break, but he might have a strong need for companionship as well. One of my client dogs acts like I'm leading her to the gallows when approaching home toward the end of a walk, but I keep talking to her, and then we have a little play time when we get in and she forgets how bummed out she was at the end of the walk.

Please do an update and let us know how you are solving (or have solved) this issue.

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Hi Mary! I started switching up our routes. I had been taking him the same way each time, but since he lives in an urban area, there are a lot of different streets to take. Once I started taking a different route each day, the laying down stopped completely and he didn't even mind going home!

Lindsay P.'s profile image Lindsay P.  ( 2016-08-05 23:21:55 -0600 ) edit

YAY! I'll have to keep that in mind in case I run into the same situation!

Mary C.'s profile image Mary C.  ( 2016-08-06 14:53:51 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2016-06-13 01:57:31 -0600

Have you discussed with the client? Maybe they'd have a suggestion that they found works? If not, this may provide an opportunity to discuss trainer services. I'm not a trainer, but for dogs that I think really need one, I've recommended someone who was referred to me by my neighbor. This trainer does 1 on 1 house visits and from what I've heard gets instant results after just 1 session.

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I had the exact same situation with a German Shepard and I finally figured out that he was scared of "stairs" even though the stairs on my back deck where we enter the house are very wide and long. He would not go back in the house after going out! He did the same thing, sat down!

Holly & John K.'s profile image Holly & John K.  ( 2016-06-23 11:51:15 -0600 ) edit

I finally got him to not be afraid of the stairs by the second day and he still hesitates a bit but he is large enough that he can jump up them. Look around, there may be something that he is afraid of, you can never tell. It could be a trash can or hanging flowers. opposite route?

Holly & John K.'s profile image Holly & John K.  ( 2016-06-23 11:54:22 -0600 ) edit

This one loves to play fetch, so I threw a frisbee onto the deck and he was after it, gotta be starter than the average bear lol

Holly & John K.'s profile image Holly & John K.  ( 2016-06-23 11:55:30 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2016-08-05 20:58:50 -0600

Just wondering--is something hurting him? Often young dogs with mild or nascent hip dysplasia will present this way. This probably isn't the case but I'm just tossing it out there. It may be physical, not just behavioral.

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answered 2016-07-18 10:42:14 -0600

You can takes treats or something high value to lure him into the house or pet him a lot to get him into the house.

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