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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is going to be long. It’s a complex problem and I think you need the context to understand. We need help with our doggie. We’re working with our vet so this is seeking supplemental info,

I’m pretty experienced with raising and training dogs. I worked about 5 years as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of the Blind (GDB). I love dogs dearly. They love me back. We get along, communicate, and trust each other. I’ve had dogs all my life. They bond quickly with me and communicate very effectively. It’s a special bond I feel with dogs.

We have a little 22 pound, 3 year old sweetheart named Bella. She is part Yorkie, ****zu, and something bigger like maybe a poodle, Bella is sweet, beautiful, smart, and energetic. We walk everyday with only exceptions being extremely dangerous weather. Bella and I LOVED our walks. Bella and I both benefited with better health and lower weight. Bella has been mostly healthy.

Just heading me say "want to go for a walk Bella” would cause her to go on high alert with tail wagging. Bella used to bug my wife to go to sleep so Bella and I could have our special walk time. It was the high point of my day. It was clearly a high point for Bella too.

Something happened in last 2 months. As warm weather came she would step on sticks or prickers or rocks that would irritate her pads. She was noticing the wildlife more including the foxes (everywhere), bunnies, snakes, frogs and other mysterious sounds. One night she seemed to get a couple of things stuck in her pad, and was frightened by the dark sky and wild animals. The animals have always been there, but they were creeping out more. Foxes were out hunting and giving off a vibe that Bella didn't like.

I myself had some bad stuff happening in my life. But it wasn't THAT bad and the walks with Bella were my therapy. We'd talk and she'd look up at me wagging her tail and all was well. But I was not in a good place so I am sure I was distracted and not as connected to her as usual.

After all that: Bella will not walk with me anymore. If my wife comes Bella will walk but not with the same gusto she had. She still loves me in the house. She just will not walk with me. As a result, I can’t get her to go to the bathroom outside regularly even though she was potty trained for 2 years prior to this.

I can get her to go to the bathroom outside maybe once a day. Something traumatized her. I want to ease back into and get back my walking partner. But I don't want to scare her, rush her, or reinforce whatever vibe I gave her. Maybe this has nothing to do with me. Maybe something is going own solely with Bella. Either way I want to fix it.

Vet ruled out foot problem (since she'd limp home sometimes) and thinks its in her mind. Thoughts? Did anyone read this far? I just want people to have info to see if they can help. I will continue seeing the vet and we are actively trying treatments. I really want our walks back. They WERE good for both of us. How do I get my Bella to walk with me again?

We tried steroid for allergies, currently trying very tiny dose of fluoxetine. She's shaking less and it seems to be the right direction but too small of a dose. I don't want to dope her up but I want her to be happy again. She had so much joy before this "no walking, no going outside" happened. She still plays, loves, eats, drinks. But sometimes she goes to the bathroom inside after doing it outside for well over a year.
 

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Did the vet rule out UTI?

I'm wondering if she stepped on something painful just as some sound or smell scared her. The combo of the two might have been enough to give her a bad enough fright to scare her into not wanting to go out.

After you rule out UTI, then try setting up a safe, happy, place outside for her to potty. If you can put up a bit of fencing, like lattice work, to help her feel safe, if you can't that's alright. Go to the place and play with her there, feed her extra good treats there, sit and give her lots of attention there. Do what she likes so that she's willing to stay there long enough to fully empty her bladder. I'd also use a cue word so that she knows she's going there and doesn't have to worry about being walked.

For walks your best bet is to take it slow. Also try trimming the hair between her pads very short to lessen the chance of stickers getting stuck between her pads. Go for shot walks, and keep them fun. Play with her on them, give her lots of chances to sniff, feed her tiny pieces of extra yummy treats. As she gets happy with walking the short distance lengthen it by a few feet, and keep doing that till y'all are walking your whole route.

A couple of other things you can do is make a note of where the stickers are and avoid that area. This time of year I avoid one corner because it is covered in grass burrs. You may do better walking her during the day when the night critters are silent. My dog does better walking the day, he spooks easier at night and it's hit or miss if I can get him to go for a walk after dark.

You mentioned she was limping. Front or back leg? If back, did the vet check her knees and hips?
 

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Might you try boots?

My parents Pom has scared me more than once because he limps quite dramatically when he gets a sappy leaf stuck to him.

For getting your dog more comfortable going outside, one game I really like to do us to call "find it!" And then scatter a handful of treats into the grass for the dog to sniff out. At first you might have to use something really tempting like hit dog or boiled chicken cheese but eventually her kibble should suffice. You can play this in the backyard, then the front, then the sidewalk, and so forth.

Another useful tool in my box is hand-targeting. When a dog can target my palm I can walk a ways and then ask for a "touch", treat and then do the same thing a few steps later, until we are all the way past a scary stretch of the walk.
 

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Next to the great advise you already got:
If Bella walks with your wife, just join the two. Let you wife be the lead of the walk and you stroll along, with some treats, calling her name once in a while, if she pays attention to you, treat her. Maybe do some sits or play tug-o-war (if she likes it).
But let your wife have the lead.

My totally uneducated guess is that she had, as mentioned by you and the other posters, a scary moment on a walk with you and that's why she doesn't want to go with you anymore. Going together with your wife and having fun and having treats shows her that you bring fun and food and not scary things when on a walk.
 
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Will she walk in a different neighborhood? If so do that for awhile, then ease back into your own territory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I posted the problem with Bella not wanting to go for walks 2 summers ago. After about 4 months refusing to walk with me, the problem went away. The vet had her on a low dose of prozac for a limited time after not finding anything physically wrong with her. This seemed to make little difference. She would walk with my partner Sue sometimes. She doesn't like hot weather and as I said in my post I was somewhat stressed out during that period. But walking with Bella everyday between 1 and 5 miles was my stress relief and I was usually quite happy and relaxed during our walks. After a few months she seemed to forget about whatever was bothering her and things returned to normal. It also corresponded with a cooling of temperatures.

In the summer of 2017 the problem did not resurface. We moved into a new house we bought just 1/4 mile from the one we had lived in for 8 years. So we're still walking on the same wonderful trails near and around a really great pond. We're adjacent to a Massachusetts State Forest. It's peaceful and scenic here. There are also many animals in the forest including foxes, coyotes, skunks, porcupines, bear, rabbits, snakes, deer... They mostly don't bother us but she knows when they are nearby.

Bella loves the new house. She favors cool and cold weather and really enjoys walking in winter. She hangs out with me nearly every minute I am home. When I work from home she sleeps under my desk. She snuggles up to me when we sleep. She follows me around the house like, well, like a puppy dog! None of this changed during the no walk summer except she wouldn't go walking with me.

Every now and then, especially on dark nights, she will be reluctant to go off into the woods. I suspect when that happens she senses an animal that scares her nearby and heed her recommendation that we stay near the house. There are nearly no streetlights and there are acres of space between houses and lots of forest land. So it can be quite spooky at night when there is no moon or stars are obscured by clouds.

Since she was OK through last summer I suspect things will continue normally. Last summer I was the one who had problems related to walking as the forest was peppered with poison ivy and I had severe allergies and was on Prednisone for 3 months. Never in my 55 years have I had anything like that but everywhere I looked the poison ivy was overtaking other weeds especially near the marshes and sides of the road. Bella would walk through the poison ivy so I would have to bath her and scrub down every time I pet her. I am hoping this year is not as bad.

I will create a new post about a more recent health problem Bella had and how we solved it. It too relates to living in the woods in southern New England, aka Deer Tick Central. I am happy to report that little Bella is doing well and is very happy. Life with a smaller dog is quite a bit different than the labs I've had all my life! But well worth it!
 

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Next to the great advise you already got:
If Bella walks with your wife, just join the two. Let you wife be the lead of the walk and you stroll along, with some treats, calling her name once in a while, if she pays attention to you, treat her. Maybe do some sits or play tug-o-war (if she likes it).
But let your wife have the lead.

My totally uneducated guess is that she had, as mentioned by you and the other posters, a scary moment on a walk with you and that's why she doesn't want to go with you anymore. Going together with your wife and having fun and having treats shows her that you bring fun and food and not scary things when on a walk.
Great advice! I think this advice will work if he chose to do it. His wife also should participate if they want their dog to walk again with them.
 

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Next to the great advise you already got:
If Bella walks with your wife, just join the two. Let you wife be the lead of the walk and you stroll along, with some treats, calling her name once in a while, if she pays attention to you, treat her. Maybe do some sits or play tug-o-war (if she likes it).
But let your wife have the lead.

My totally uneducated guess is that she had, as mentioned by you and the other posters, a scary moment on a walk with you and that's why she doesn't want to go with you anymore. Going together with your wife and having fun and having treats shows her that you bring fun and food and not scary things when on a walk.
Best suggestion so far for me! I agree with this. Give her some treats while walking around your neighborhood to give her some excitement and fun.
 
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