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Puppy "afraid" of leash

  1. #1

    Puppy "afraid" of leash

    My boyfriend and I recently adopted a 3-1/2 month old Pit bull/Lab mix, named Pickles, and a 7 week old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, named Tiny, both girls. They are so much fun, however, we seem to have some issues with Pickles that we don't feel should be issues for a 3-1/2 month old.

    We believe she was not treated well by the person we got her from. He was giving her and her siblings away in the Walmart parking lot, she was the only one left when we happened upon them. He said he had been "feeding her raw steak because people typically like their Pit Bulls 'bulked up.'" If that doesn't sound like he's expecting them to be trained for fighting, I don't know what does.

    Anyway, we haven't taken her to the vet yet, we will next Friday to get her and Tiny's shots and a check up. She seems to be doing very well for the history we're assuming she has... but, right now the leash thing is the biggest issue. She's a little unsure about having the leash attached to her collar, but doesn't fight too bad, she's fine with the leash on for the most part and will do okay with it, until you try to get her to walk out a door, near a car or if she gets nervous for whatever reason, then she pulls back and violently shakes her head back and forth like she's trying to escape the leash.

    We're not disciplining her for that because we want her to see the leash as a positive thing, and discipline with her is a little tough because she will be anxious around the person for most of the day, even though we are fairly soft with the discipline, a stern but not too loud "no," a gentle bop on the nose with one finger, enough to get her attention but not cause any pain.

    I have had other dogs in the past and we already had 2 older female dogs (11 ish and 5 ish years old) and I don't remember having any of the same issues with them. All were easy to use leashes on, took to them without any trouble. Tiny doesn't concern me with any of this yet because she is learning everything now that she is away from mama.

    I feel as though Pickles should be adapting to the leash a little faster and easier. She is also afraid to go in and out of the door when it's time to go outside or come back in. She is doing great on following us back in when we call her at home, but will not go inside or outside at my parents house unless you pick her up and carry her.

    If anyone has any advice, we would greatly appreciate it! We don't want her to be scared or anxious about anything, it breaks our hearts.

  2. #2
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    For one thing you should be using a harness and not a collar. when she pulls back on the leash it could damage her throat and trachea, this goes for both dogs. put a harness on her and attach the leash and let her get used to it by just dragging it around without you on the other end. As she gets more comfortable wearing it then pick it up and walk her, use treats and praise when she responds. Don't scold her or bop her on the head, speak quietly to her and coax her along, pits are strong willed and you need to coax her into thinking its what she wants to do, your method is only going to bring out the stubbornness and she will fight you on everything.
    Last edited by linda2147; 12-01-2017 at 03:02 PM.
    he is your friend and protector, he will love you unconditionally, you owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion

  3. #3
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    Welcome. First I want to give you credit for adopting both of them, very kind of you. It sounds like Pickles was abused, and it probably did involve a leash. She's shaking her head to free herself from the leash because she was probably dragged by the leash by the guy who was dumping her in the parking lot. She might have been around traffic or a lot of loud rowdy people, which would make her skittish around cars or outside.

    I would back off on any discipline and work on gaining trust and making her feel secure and comfortable around you. Honestly, no 'bopping', hitting, poking, etc....it only creates fear and distrust in you, and it sounds like she already had more than her share of that.

    Positive training, with you in a calm and confident state of mind, encouraging her to exit the house and go on a quiet walk with you by using treats and gentle praise. You'd be surprised at the results you'll get with positive training in an atmosphere that is non-threatening to her and quiet. She will bond with you, trust you and be very loyal once she's over the trauma from her previous owner(s).

    You can't rush her to adapt to the leash, it has to be slow and gentle. Just like people, dogs can have some PTSD after being in a bad situation. It will take patience and work on your part, but well worth it in the end for both of you. Good luck and please let us know how things are going.

  4. #4
    Pickles has already bonded pretty well with us, she is a completely different dog than the one we adopted in the parking lot...the first night she was so afraid and nervous that she would not move...she had fleas, so my boyfriend's sister gave her a flea and tick bath the first night which was the first time we saw her move (when she tried to fight the bath).

    My boyfriend snuggled with her on the kitchen floor for about an hour before she would move her head. Later that night she opened up to and tried to play with his 10 year old nephew. Now she will play with almost anybody, she's still more nervous around men, including my boyfriend, but she will still willingly cuddle with him. Now she only stops playing to sleep, she doesn't eat much, we try, but pretty sure she is hoping for more raw steak, which I think I mentioned the former owner fed her raw steak.

    I know people are thinking that the "bopping" sounds terrible and abusive, she really doesn't react to it. The only time we do this is if she is doing something really naughty and saying "no" or her name does not get her attention, and she usually just tries to play with us when we do it, so it's pretty pointless anyway lol. I'm hoping to try the harness, we live 30 miles from a town and thought the harness from when my last dog was little would fit, but it's just a smidge too small for her, so we will get her one this weekend.

    Until then we live on a farm, so the leash is not a necessity...we just need to practice for going to the vet and other various trips. Please don't judge me for the way I'm taking care of my puppies. I'm not hurting them, she's not being fed raw steak anymore, which I'm sure she likes, but isn't good for her, she's obviously way happier than she was with her previous owner.

    I've done the same thing with the other dogs I had/have and haven't had any problems with them. An abused dog is new territory for us and we are doing the best we can, it's extremely frustrating and we are staying as calm as possible, even on less than average sleep and lots of accidents on the floor. We love these dogs/puppies and are not trying to do anything to hurt them.

  5. #5
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    I"m sure you do love them and want what's best for them, you just need a little help and we will help you. First let me say this, a raw diet is the best thing you can feed them. I've fed raw for years, I'm not saying just throw them a raw chicken leg, you need to add the proper additives to get a balanced diet but its not a complicated as you might think and feeding raw does not turn them into fighters or aggressive dogs. Most show dogs are fed raw and they are in excellent condition. If you want to go the raw route I can help you with that. Just let me know and I'll tell you how its done.
    he is your friend and protector, he will love you unconditionally, you owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion

  6. #6
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    It sounds like you are doing your best Tressi, I don't judge you at all. Shes afraid of men more than women, so sad, that man must have abused her. Thank goodness fate brought you two together, you may have really saved her life. She'll eat the dog food you want to feed when she's hungry, that shouldn't be a problem.

    Fantastic that you live on a farm, that's wonderful for you and your dogs. You seem to really care for your dogs and have a lot of experience. I can't say I've ever owned a dog that was abused, but I have met some from neighbors or at the park and slowly tried to pet them if the owner wanted me to.

    One lady with a very fearful small dog she just got from the shelter said she wouldn't let anyone pet her. I got on the ground and spoke gently to her and in a few minutes I was petting her under the chin and a little on the back. The lady was very happy that something positive happened that day. Lots of extra patience needed for sure with abused pups, thank God she wasn't used as a 'bait' dog for fighters.

  7. #7
    I don't know why it didn't occur to me that my terrier mix is just a little bit bigger than Pickles, probably too tired to make the connection last night lol. So this morning I put Flo's (terrier mix) harness on Pickles and grabbed a squeaky toy and went on a practice walk a little bit ago. It was like night and day, she is still young and being on a farm there are soooooo many things to sniff, and she's still a bit clumsy. I squeaked the toy when she got distracted and we took it slow, but she didn't pull once. She got lots of praise and when we got to our destination I let her off the leash to play. Even walking inside at my parent's house went a little better than usual! I am so relieved that I want to cry! Thank you so much for the help! Tiny still isn't taking to the leash... she doesn't pull, but just doesn't understand it yet, she is only 7 weeks old so I'm not expecting as much from her yet.
    I'm still expecting a long road to recovery and learning basic training, but knowing that there are solutions is so reassuring. 😊

  8. #8
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    Wow, that's great news about the harness, Linda had the right idea there! I agree a 7 week old pup will buck when first introduced to the leash, I know my puppy did....but they learn so fast. Hope you keep having positive improvement with your Pickles, it all sounds good!

  9. #9
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    WELCOME! Glad you got some help and I just love the name Pickles! You definitely rescued them and that's awesome!
    “Save a life and save a stray”

  10. #10
    Thank you! We adopted Tiny earlier that day and I was shopping with my boyfriend's sister and we went to a store called Miss Pretty Pickles and we thought that was the cutest name for a dog, but my boyfriend didn't want to name her Pickles. Later that day is when we ended up getting Pickles, she was supposed to be for his dad, but after the first night his dad called and said they just didn't seem to be a good fit. She was too scared and he said she didn't move from the spot we left her on the floor all night, so we all figured she needed someone who was able to be home more (I can't work) and she had kinda started bonding with Tiny. The next day when we had her all day she suddenly opened up and wanted to play. Anyway, when we got Pickles, my brother's 10 year old nephew decided her name would be Pickles because we all liked it so much. Sorry, it was kind of a longer story than I thought.

  11. #11
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    Great story Tressi! Pickles is a cute name for sure, and it's so nice that you can be home a lot with the dogs. I'm retired, so that's a big plus in being home to do things with my dog and cat (and hubby).

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