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Wants to walk then can’t

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We have had Willow 2yr in Oct from pup. She is lovely and loves people and animals (well has started chasing cats). We both work and have 2 children (10 and 13) and my mum walks her in the day. She was golden bar a few chewed up things, she has a room and garden access when we are out. We got her spayed in January and then I broke my wrist, then it was Covid and as a teacher I was mainly home, my husband continued to work and I carried on walking her but avoided people (as hundreds of people started walking and buying dogs). We did basic, intermediate and almost finished advanced dog training which included agility (wrist stopped me and daughter taking her). Anyway she has become more skittish, she has started out excited to go on walk got 5 mins away then refused to go any further no matter where. About a month ago we walked into the field that we always go in and someone fired a gun into air right next to her. She scooted off back to the stile scared, she would even go over in pitch dark last winter with me but now it’s hit and miss she will even walk in the light. Tonight she was fine excited to go out, she heard a motorbike and stopped that was it 20m from house and refused to move. Anyone any ideas? Some days she is fine, this morning she was great. I just don’t know what to do.

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Hi Annacolour,

Your dog has been traumatized by the unfortunate things that have happened to her. She may have started getting skittish because you were (out of necessity) avoiding people and she picked up on your concerns about getting close to anyone. that is not something that, at the moment, you can easily change. But if there are people you cn be around, make sure she is having excellent experiences with all of them, at least.

The loud noises have made her frightened to go places where she thinks she may encounter that again. You are just going to have to be very patient with her and work hard to undo the trauma and de-sensitize her from these things.

Look up de-sensitizing protocols, and use them. Be very patient with her on walks. If she stops, doesn't want to go further, don't use a conciliatory tone and say "ooohhh, it's ooooh-kay" or anything like that, as that will only increase her sense that there is something to fear.  Speak in a normal happy tone. Take super-good treats with you on the walk and every few steps or so give one to her, while talking in an encouraging and upbeat (but not fake) tone of voice. If she stops, let her stop. Wait a few seconds, then encourage her with a treat to go just a little farther. Still no? then try asking for a behavior or trick you have taught her, to distract her. And treat, treat.  Take her near, but not into, the field, and treat, treat. Then walk away. Next day do it again, maybe one foot closer to the field. Treat,treat. Next day maybe a foot closer. But if she gets scared, go back to the point where she is not scared, and start again. It will take time. Maybe months. Just keep at it and don't get frustrated with her or discouraged.

This will take time and it's harder these days with the pandemic. but you can work with it to make sure that, at the least, it doesn't get worse. BVest of luck and let us know how it is gooing.


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