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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

This is my first post so apologize in advance if too long or I posted something wrong.

A little background on our dog Chief:

* Visited Chief 6 times at shelter during all visits very skittish and nervous around me never let me touch him he's approx. 2 years old and shelter took him in as a stray.
* Decided to adopt him after 6th visit approx. 3 months ago.
* Within 2 days built trust and ever since he has been great with wife and kids.
* Chief is very happy/alert during walks sometimes a little tense sniffing hedge bushes and in lead but most of the time walks next to me and listens to commands.

Here is where the behavior has drastically changed:
* A few days ago he suddenly stops during walks with my wife or I. We generally move on and keep walking but in last couple days more drastic to point where we have to head back the opposite way then he seems okay but still cautious looking behind pausing for a few seconds then we can continue. Tonight was even more weird behavior because beyond heading back to walk a different direction this time during my walk he just sat with his ears up and as I wanted to continue he wouldn't and got to the point of laying down so we no longer head in the same direction. When I told him to get up he only continued because we decided to head back the other direction and ended up walking home.

Approx 4 days ago (I think behavior started after this incident) my wife was walking Chief with the kids and as Chief was sniffing in hedge bushes he pulls out a squirrel and after a few squeals killed it. My wife tried to pull him off and hit his nose but by then he was already done.

I'm not sure if this has to do with changed behavior - I've also allowed Chief to head another direction to see if we are going to a specific place/something to smell etc. even passing by the specific spot it happened but nothing specific. Sometimes just seems nervous or as if he has a bad feeling and we need to head another way.

I've seen some posts online about this issue:
* Because dog not submissive/just wants to do what it wants.
* Smells/hears something as their nose is more sensitive.
* Dog is tired or maybe has an injury.
* Anxiety - Not sure I think this is what Chief is feeling.

If you have any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Sam
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
* Anxiety - Not sure I think this is what Chief is feeling.
Quick update:
When I took Chief out this morning we did not even go past garage he looked anxious again and this time laid in front of garage so we don't walk. Went back in to grabbed a few dry food pellets gave him one in front of garage for encouragement and began walking. It was a short walk but he did well and was alert and happy again so I will continue this method to reinforce positive feedback to hopefully over come this challenge.
 

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Generally a "sit down strike" is a statement by a dog that something very bad has happened in the location you are approaching.

Sounds to me like the dog associates that location with being hit on the nose.

Understand that often when punishments are used on a dog, they often do not learn what we hope they learn. For example, in this case we are hoping to teach the dog not to attack small furry prey animals. Instead what the dog looks like he learned is that he must avoid that location or he will be hit.

Many dogs are smart enough to learn something upon one event. Yours seems to be one of these. I've noticed with my dog that the problematic "fallout" from an aversive may take some time to develop, a day or several days or even weeks later. So don't be fooled that it took a couple of days for this behavior to show up after the bad event. (the biological explanation may in fact be that it takes a couple of days for the neurons involved in this memory to fully grow and make the connecting synapses... memories are physically manifested in the brain as connections between brain cells.)

Anyway, I would suggest you not fight the issue for a while and avoid that location so you do not keep strengthening his negative association. Choose a different walking route for a couple of weeks. Then when you try again with the bad spot, take treats with you and reward him for each step he takes. But don't push him. Be satisfied with a couple of steps then turn around and go back. If you push him and create a stress response, you won't make any progress with him getting over the fear. Keep it light and happy, a couple of steps, a treat, and turn around. Hopefully if you do that he will make progress and the new positive association will over take the negative one.

And the lesson here for you and your wife to learn is that you have an intelligent and sensitive dog. Work with him in a positive only manner so you don't get more fallout from aversive techniques. It is quite possible to do all your training without negatives if you are willing to learn the skills.

Hope something in there helped. Good luck and do let us know how he does!
 
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