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Old 02-16-2017, 03:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Puppy shuts down on walks now

Hi all,

I am perplexed at this new behavior. Benji is four months old now and has been taking walks for a few weeks. I usually take him for two short walks per day, normally just around the block in different directions for about 20 minutes or so at a time. He wears an Easy Walk harness and seems pretty good on a leash. He doesn't pull and walks along happily, getting distracted by all the interesting smells, people and dogs walking by, etc. He's pretty good at ignoring most of it, doesn't react super strongly to anything, I try to have him stop at intersections and sit for a treat. Now when we are a few blocks from home he shuts down- the distance varies actually, sometimes he gets further than others. All of sudden he'll just stop, turn towards home and nothing I do will persuade him to go any farther. We just have to go home. And believe me, he knows EXACTLY where home is. Once we start moving towards home his tail goes back up and he is quite happy to walk along again, but he really seems like he's not anxious exactly, but heading directly home, pulling a bit on the leash, not strongly, but he's normally a very loose leash walker. I don't know what triggers it. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason. If we are somewhere else away from home, like a park, and we've driven there, he's fine. He'll walk along very happily for the whole time, no problems. He's shut down on my husband as well. We tried taking him for a walk together today, thinking he'd be fine. He shut down again. I was thinking maybe a random fear period thing, but he's only four months. Any ideas or advice?

Oh, and I wanted to add that normally when we take our walks it's pretty quiet, not too much going on, maybe a few dogs barking, a few people. And I let him sniff stuff and we go pretty much at his pace. He really seemed to enjoy his walks until recently! I am totally willing to take a break from walking if that what he needs but just wanted to get some input from experienced poodle people. Thanks!
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I had this trouble with Milo from the very beginning when we first started taking walks. He would not make it very far out of the driveway and then he would just stop and sit down and not budge. When we would turn to go back home he would walk right along. Pretty frustrating!

I brought it up when we were doing our puppy training classes. They did not have much for answers other than he may feel like home is a "base" for him and makes him feel more secure, and he is most familar there. I also took note of anything going on when he stopped, sometimes it was other dogs barking in the neighborhood other times it was crickets chirping! haha

However, I noticed walking in the trails and in the woods he had no problems, he would walk right along, it was just the road part. Poodles are kind of quirky and I really think they are so smart even at such a young age they want to observe and take in everything. Eventually Milo got better and better. I would try to encourage him to keep going with treats, if he made it far (like 10 steps hah) Id praise him. Other times it was a waiting game, I did not give him the option of walking back home, and would literally just stand and wait for him to keep walking. When I decided we would turn back it would be my decision, I would not turn back home when he just stopped. I did not want him to associate stopping and sitting with going back home and getting his way. It took a lot of patience but he eventually grew out of this phase. Ugh! Made for some VERY long walks time-wise but not in distance haha

Anyways that was my experience!
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hhhmmm, that is odd. When Lily was young and finally immunized and therefore street legal as I think of it, she would dig her heels in about not wanting to go certain places in my neighborhood. However I always could tell why she did it. Generally she was very clear on not wanting to walk past certain houses that had really crazy dogs where there was all sorts of barking, jumping around in the living room window, running at the door and the like. Rather than let Lily decide where we would go I used very nice treats to lure her at first, then I would treat her after she made it past one of those kinds of houses. Eventually she became very confident and relaxed when we passed those houses and even the craziness from the dog occupants of those houses calmed down too.

Could your pup be hearing, seeing or smelling a dog or other animal in certain parts of your neighborhood that is putting him ill at ease? For Lily that was definitely what she didn't like. She most certainly would have taken us home had I let her. Maybe you can lure Benji through those moments of misgiving a couple of times and then reward him for doing it without the lure. It worked for Lily.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Could he be entering a fear period & this is how it is being expressed? We had this issue also. We did a number of things & she did grow out of it. We used an expandable spoon & put peanut butter on to lure her. We didn't turn around & head home but would stop & wait a bit. Another thing we did was go to a different place for walks so we weren't walking away from home.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'd listen to her and respect that something is uncomfortable to her at this time. You don't want to press her to walk where she's uncomfortable...don't want to sour her to walks. I agree with Searcher in taking her somewhere in the car, away from home and just do a little walk in some other places for a while. Shorten up the walks, mix things up so it's not always the same. Add something extra special to the walks like tasty treats, but use them after she walks a little ways. If it's a hassle to go in the car more than once a day, (which I think it would be) try shortening up the walks and go back BEFORE you think she'll get this way. Make it extra fun or try to vary the route. No doubt she'll get over this in time.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Searcher View Post
Could he be entering a fear period & this is how it is being expressed? We had this issue also. We did a number of things & she did grow out of it. We used an expandable spoon & put peanut butter on to lure her. We didn't turn around & head home but would stop & wait a bit. Another thing we did was go to a different place for walks so we weren't walking away from home.
That peanut butter on a spoon idea is a good one. I might try that tomorrow. I've tried luring him with treats but they're not high value and I like the idea of it being able to extend out and lure him along for a while and maybe he'll snap out of his weird state of mind. Also, I was going to drive to the park today to give him his walk but we wanted to try to walk him together to see if it would help, which it didn't
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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They do sometimes go through a second fear period at 4 mos.--I read that when I was raising Maizie and she started getting spooky around that time. I think it's a great idea to take him to a different location where he won't get stuck and not want to move. I would also shorten the walks a bit.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poodlebeguiled View Post
I'd listen to her and respect that something is uncomfortable to her at this time. You don't want to press her to walk where she's uncomfortable...don't want to sour her to walks. I agree with Searcher in taking her somewhere in the car, away from home and just do a little walk in some other places for a while. Shorten up the walks, mix things up so it's not always the same. Add something extra special to the walks like tasty treats, but use them after she walks a little ways. If it's a hassle to go in the car more than once a day, (which I think it would be) try shortening up the walks and go back BEFORE you think she'll get this way. Make it extra fun or try to vary the route. No doubt she'll get over this in time.
Yes, I agree. I don't want to push him to the point where it is unpleasant. I have already decided to drive to the park- it's super close to our house so not such a big deal, plus I have other parks nearby as well. I took him to one 2 days ago and he did great. I do try to mix things up at home as well- we take different routes and have a green belt right across the street too so- that's where he shut down today unfortunately. I really thought once he got down there he'd be ok. Thanks so much for your input.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zooeysmom View Post
They do sometimes go through a second fear period at 4 mos.--I read that when I was raising Maizie and she started getting spooky around that time. I think it's a great idea to take him to a different location where he won't get stuck and not want to move. I would also shorten the walks a bit.
Oh really? I was reading that the second fear period started at 6 months. But if Maizie had one at 4 months, maybe that's what's bugging Benji. Yeah, I'm going to take him to different places and not walk for too long. Thanks!
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I never had that specific problem with Buck, but I did get him through some street situations, scary dogs, big trucks with happy, higher pitched commands: "Yay, it's a scary dog! Let's go!" Benji is still so young, I wouldn't want to push him too far out of his comfort zone. At four months we were still noodling around in the yard, practicing recall, sit and stay.
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