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Walking A Nervous New Dog


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Hi all, I'm new to the forum. I have just adopted a retired racer with my other half. He's 4 years old and he's a beautiful, affectionate yet very timid dog. We knew he was nervous when we chose him and we've only had him for 3 days now so we expect it will take a good while yet before he comes out of his shell!

 

In the meantime, I'm looking for some advice about walking him and taking him into our garden to go to the toilet. I've been taking him into the garden on the lead since Day 1 but he is very nervous of it from everything to the tree next door to the wind to the noise of people in the park behind our house. I try to bribe him with treats but he won't take them until he's on his way back into the house. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes for him to do his business and he spends most of that time wanting to go back into the house, while I'm encouraging him to sniff around!

 

Tonight I put his lead on to take him out before bedtime but he wouldn't budge from his bed. I didn't want to drag him so after a bit of coaxing I left him. I don't mind if he has a little accident (although he hasn't in the house yet) but I don't want him to be uncomfortable or have to hold it in all night. Does anyone have any tips on how I can coax him into the garden?

 

His walks so far have varied. In the morning when it's early and quiet, he's mostly been ok but his evening walk has made him more nervous when there are more people around and this evening he really didn't enjoy it so we cut it a few minutes short. Usually, despite being nervous he finds time to go to the toilet but this evening he didn't do a no.2 (although he did on his morning walk).

 

Again, any tips on how to make his walks a bit easier for him while he's adjusting to his new environment?

 

Thanks,

Matt

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If you've got a friend with a calm confident dog, this can help.

 

If it were me, though, I'd slow down a little bit. If he' happy in the morning, take him out for a nice looooong walk then. In the evening, a quick toilet break may be all he needs for now. I wouldn't bother walking him if it freaks him out. Just out into the garden, pee, then inside for snuggles and attention.

 

Is he worse generally at night? If so, I'd be considering getting his eyesight checked.

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One thing that helps a lot is to clip on the leash and then face AWAY from the dog -- turn sideways or turn your back to him. Then a cheerful "Let's go!" and start off.

 

You may find that new pup doesn't *need* to go out as often as you think, although I would try to get him out before bed (maybe stay up a little later if you can). Sometimes the shy ones are kinda frozen in place, so not drinking extra and not having to go out too often either.

 

Hugs and best luck!

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Thanks to both of you, that's really helpful advice.

 

I hadn't considered that one long walk in the morning might be enough while he's getting used to it but I think I'll give that a try tomorrow. Would rather he have one positive walking experience a day that will make him more eager to go out next time. I don't think it's a problem with his sight as his evening walk has been usually around 6pm when it's still light.

 

The leash tip is great too, will give it a try. He definitely feels more self-conscious when our eyes are on him. He's been having a bit of trouble with our wooden floor, so we've moved a rug and put some mats down. When there's a few people in the living room he still sometimes struggles to get to his feet, whereas when he thinks we're not watching or when I'm in the kitchen, he gets up no problem.

 

Anyway, an update on tonight's situation. Woke up half an hour ago to hear him pacing around downstairs. Went and checked and he'd done a poo on the rug! He obviously needed one despite his reluctance to go in the garden earlier. I cleaned it up, gave him a few cuddles and took him out in the garden to do a wee. It took about 10 minutes out there but he eventually started sniffing around and did it. He wasn't pulling to get in most of the time either so I think he's slowly getting used to the garden.Will try to spend more time out there with him tomorrow.

 

Do you think it's worth keeping him on the lead while he's getting used to the garden or letting him off?

We don't have any friends with dogs unfortunately, although my other half's mum has two cocker spaniels but they live a short train ride away and he isn't quite ready for the journey yet. We are planning to introduce them when he's settled in though as we often spend time there at weekends.

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One thing I will say too is be understanding if he's really terrified, but don't play into his fears. My friend adopted a nervous new girl, Fly, last summer and she was scared of everything, statued a lot on the street, while my friend stood there and tried to reassure Fly while she stared and trembled. One day my friend couldn't even get her out of the yard, and called me to come over with my dog. I gave her my dog to hold, took Fly's leash, and assumed the confident, no-nonsense persona of a greyhound trainer or leadout at the track. Braced my hand on my abdomen and strode off briskly. Boom, Fly trotted right along beside me without stopping. Things were much better after that once my friend learned how to pick up the pace and be a confident leader.

Edited by PrairieProf

With Cocoa (DC Chocolatedrop), missing B for Beth (2006-2015)
And kitties C.J., Klara, Bernadette, John-Boy, & Sinbad

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Guest Scouts_mom

If your yard is fenced, I definitely would let him off lead to explore and poop in peace. If it isn't, you might consider a longer leash (or two leashes hooked together) to give him a bit more privacy. It sounds like you might be in the UK. I know folks there don't worry so much about letting their dogs off-leash in unfenced areas. I really would not recommend doing that now as there is no way he would have a good recall at this stage.

 

My Henry was also very timid when he came to my household. He was terrified of cars driving by, tree branches moving in the breeze, child's tricycle left on the sidewalk, strange men and the stop sign at the corner (no idea why). I would walk him on the quietest streets I knew. When he would stop and stare at something, I would talk to him in an upbeat voice about how "brave" he was, how important stop signs are, etc. After a minute or two I would confidently start walking and usually he was fine with that. Some things (like the stop sign) he would make a wide circle around--that was fine. Now, 3 years later, we have no problems although he is definitely not thrilled with busy streets with trucks and buses. He totally ignores the stop sign!

 

One word of warning, with a nervous dog you need to be particularly sure that you always have a very good grip on the leash--put the loop around you wrist and hold the leash with your fingers--the dog can spook and try to run when you least expect it. I know because a month after I got Henry we were on our usual walk, when a clearly dangerous tree, with evil dog-eating intentions, moved its branch in the breeze--Henry bolted in terror. I fell down on the concrete sidewalk, scratched and bruised my arms and face, broke my glasses, BUT I HELD ON TO THE LEASH!!!!! If I had let go, Henry would have been long gone and the subject of an Amber Alert.

Edited by Scouts_mom
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Thanks everyone. It's very reassuring to hear your stories and advice!

 

I came down this morning and got a little tail wag, which was lovely. He would not leave the house to go for a walk though. I tried to lead him by talking confidently and striding ahead but he wouldn't budge. I guess we pushed him a bit far yesterday.

 

So instead, I took him out in the garden on the lead. At first he was nervous and shook a bit but I reassured him and he calmed down. After a while I let him off the lead and it was the best thing I could have done. He kept trotting to the back door, which was closed but then coming back to me and having a bit of a sniff around. He seemed more comfortable off the lead. After 5 minutes or so, he went for a pee, so I praised him, gave it a minute and took him in. He's just had breakfast and is happily dozing.

 

I think I'll spend today with intermittent trips to the garden to get him used to it. Will take a seat and let him wander round and explore. If he can build his confidence there, it might help when we go outside.

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Others have already given you lots of good advice, and it sounds as if he is beginning to settle in. As well as being patient with him I would try getting some really tasty treats, little ones you can put into a small pot or bag to carry around on walks or in the garden. Then as well as telling him what a good boy he is when he does a wee or a poo, or whatever, you can slip him a treat too!. Those doggy salami sticks broken up into little bits are good, or tiny cubes of cheddar cheese were always popular with Doc.

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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Sounds like he (and you) is doing fine. Accidents happen, and I'll bet they'll happen less as the days go by.

 

One of mine who was wary of new things had no interest in going for a walk away from home for the first couple of months. His brain was just too full with all he had to learn. So, we stayed around the yard. Once he processed all the new things here, he was happy to go for as long a walk as we wanted.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Definitely sticking with the garden for now and will see what he makes of it. It's been very very windy today so not the best day for him to get used to it but we've had a couple of successful toilet trips.

 

He's also seemed to nap more soundly today. Perhaps without the stress of the walk on his mind or perhaps he's adapting to the noises of the neighbourhood.

 

This afternoon he didn't want to come out with me into the garden so I gave him a brush for a little while instead. Shortly after he started pacing so I put the lead on and led him out and he came with me. I let him off and he wanted to go back in but after a few back and forths to the back door, he did his business.

 

I fed him his second meal a bit earlier today and will take him out later, hopefully!

 

I've got him some chicken to use as treats, which he really seems to love, so we'll see how that goes.

 

Thanks again for everyone's advice. It's reassured me and I feel like we're making some slow but steady progress.

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Actually, one further question...

 

We put his bed underneath the front window, by the radiator as it's a warm spot and it's partly enclosed because of an armchair near it. On the first day he wasn't showing any interest so we pulled it out in front of the TV and that's where it is now. I'm just wondering if right by the TV is too loud for him. It's fine in the daytime as I don't really watch it so I've had the radio on low but we have the TV on all evening.

 

We can see him there and he can see us, which I like. I'd be reluctant to move it as it's the one place so far he really relaxes but I was just wondering if a more secluded spot might be better or if anyone had any suggestions.

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Guest normaandburrell

If he doesn't mind the TV, and it sounds like he doesn't, I would leave the bed there. In the kennels, at least here in the US, they play the radio all night for the dogs. Congratulations on your new dog! It sounds like he is settling in nicely.

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Thanks, I think you're right about the TV. He has been snoozing happily by it for hours tonight.

 

However, he has completely refused to go into the garden tonight. I waited a while until he would need to go but he was very sleepy and I didn't want to wake him. I waited until he was looking a bit more alert and got his attention to go out but he didn't get up so I put his lead on to take him out and he wouldn't budge.

 

After a few unsuccessful attempts to coax him out, I took the lead off, went and did a few chores and he followed me to the kitchen door. So I went to put his lead on and he retreated to his bed area and then he wouldn't budge.

 

I realise it's a battle of wills but I'm trying to build up his confidence in me and I don't know how far to push it. I don't want to drag him out there!

 

The last time he went out was 3pm. It's now 12.30am. He's sulking and I've had to leave him because I need some sleep after being up with him last night. However, I know he's likely to go again in the house tonight which isn't good!

 

I really don't know the best way to tackle this. One thought that did enter my head when wondering why he's so scared of the garden, is that it could be another animal's scent. There are a few cats about on this street and just a few weeks ago, we suspected a fox had been digging in our flowerbeds as there was a huge hole and we also found droppings. I suppose this could be an explanation if that scent is still there?

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It might be that he has an iron bladder. Hermon and Paige of my crew can, and do, hold it for up to 18 hours. Hermon, in particular, prefers to not go outside. It isn't ideal, but there have been times when he's gone out at about 3 pm and then not again till 7 am. He's been given the opportunity, but prefers not to. I don't push it unless I really have to. He's never had an accident while healthy.

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It definitely seems like he has an iron bladder! I'm not sure that applies to his bowels though! I woke up about at 1.30am, about an hour after going to bed, and could hear he was pacing around downstairs so I went down and he let me take him out. He was obviously stressed in the garden and wouldn't take any treats but he did his business and I took him back in. Waited for him to settle and then went to bed.

 

Woke up this morning to another mess on the rug. I cleaned it up and tried to take him out in the garden but again he won't budge. He retreats to his bed and won't move.

 

Do I leave him today until it's obvious he needs to go and might let me take him, or do I try to take him out at regular intervals throughout the day?

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I'd try your best to get him out at regular hours. Be kind, but it is something he has to learn.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Thank you. Yes, kind but firm has been the theme of the day. I also spoke to people at the kennels he came from who told me to be more assertive and that a short walk around the block is probably enough to get his bowels moving.

 

I've had to be a bit more commanding to get him reluctantly out of the door but once he's out on the street he isn't too bad as long as he gets lots of reassurance and I don't push him too far. Our street and the next are fairly quiet (we live in London) so it seems like a good tactic to stick with these for the time being until his confidence builds.

 

My other half came with us on the evening walk and at some points he walked happily in between us. Fingers crossed, he is making progress.

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Aw, good job!

 

Here we try to enforce just a few things with a new dog: Learn to potty outdoors, learn to go up and down the stairs (because we have lots), and don't bite the people. The first two can take some time; the last -- well, we hope that's a natural :lol . Beyond those things, we let them tell us when they're ready to learn and do more. Some are ready from day one, some it takes a couple months.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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When we first got Brandi she would walk most confidently between DH and I. When she still feel nervous, she dives for my side or in between two of the other dogs. Or (preferably) between me and another dog. If your OH can head out with you, especially for the afternoon/ evening walks, it will probably help as well. Lots of ridiculous baby/ happy talk is good too.

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Chancey wasn't very happy about going out into the garden in the dark when I first had her. Even now at night she will more often than not just run out the back door, stand and look up the garden then run straight back in again. I imagined that was because when in kennels the dogs were shut up for the night & she wasn't used to being out loose in the dark. The second evening she was with me I took her out there a couple of times after she had whined & I thought she might need to go to the toilet but she didn't do anything, then within a couple of minutes I found her doing a wee in the hall. I took her straight out again and that was the only time since that I've found her doing anything indoors, she got the message that you did a wee outside even if I was on the end of the lead!

 

As she came to me last January, when the weather was wet and windy & had blown down one of the fences, I had to take her out on the lead every time until the fence was replaced. Thankfully my neighbour repaired it after a couple of days - he didn't want to risk having a whippet & greyhound trying to catch their cat!

Miss "England" Carol with Chancey - (Goosetree Chance) and whippet lurcher Nutmeg

R.I.P. Bluegrass Banjoman. 25.1.2004 - 25.5.2015 and Ch. Sleepyhollow Aida. 30.9.2000 - 10.1.2014.

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Guest Johberry

Patience, coaxing, and babytalk worked for us as well. Enzo bolted at loud noises, especially garbage trucks and motorcycles, on walks. He eventually got over it. His ears perk up and is curious at such noises but no longer tries to bolt in the other direction. Take a bit of patience, time, and reassurance.

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Thanks all. It's reassuring to hear about your experiences and that it might take a little time.

 

Over the last couple of nights, we've found that getting him out the door is the hard part. Once he is out onto the pavement, he trots off a little more happily. He's still very wary of strange noises or anything unfamiliar and at a certain couple of points in the walk he tries to turn back or rushes ahead. One of those is the corner at the other end of the street where you can see a busy main road about 150m away.

 

We're sticking to a couple of quiet streets by us for the time being and we reassure him all the way round though so hopefully that's helping a bit.

 

One thing I'm happy about is that he doesn't bat an eyelid when people go past us!

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