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Refusing to come inside after walks


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We've had our two-year-old, Baker, for about 6 months, and for the most part, he's adjusting well -- he's full of personality and very attached to us. However, we're running into a new problem and are completely lost.

We live in an apartment building with a shared entrance, and recently, Baker has been reluctant to come in from his walks. I'm not sure whether this is due to anxiety, stubbornness, or both. This started happening in the past month or so, but it's gotten much worse in the past few days -- it's taken 20-45+ minutes (and many bribes) to get him inside. Just now, it took a full hour. Some of our ideas:

  • Anxiety: Lately, he's sometimes been hesitant to step into the hallway from our apartment when we go out for walks, so I'm wondering if he's developed some sort of anxiety around the hallway. It's definitely not that he doesn't want to go outside -- he loves walks and will be super excited to go but freeze when we get to the door. Once we get out of the apartment he's fine -- he doesn't have a problem going through the door to outside in that direction, just when we return.
  • Stubbornness: Sometimes I wonder if he wants a longer/different walk. But we don't have a yard, and not every walk can be a 45-minute one. I don't want to deprive him of what he needs, but we do walk him a LOT and let him run around in the park when it's empty. Plus, he also does this after long walks, and taking him on another loop and trying again makes no difference.
  • Distraction: He will often spend a lot of time looking around while he's standing at the door. If there's a person/dog walking on any of the streets near us, he will keep watching them until they are out of sight. We live in a fairly dense neighborhood so you can't really go more than a few minutes without seeing someone (or having someone else come in/out of our building).
  • Too many bribes: I admit we have resorted to bribing him to get in with a variety of special treats. This had been working alright for a while, but I'm wondering if he's just pushing us for more. Then again, even with lots of treats and new foods, he has been refusing to come in.

This is becoming an untenable problem and we're really not sure what to do. Has anyone ran into this? Any ideas?

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It could be anything that's causing the problem from the smell of the floor cleaner (the chemical not the person :D)to the feel of the floor or has something frightened him on the way in at some point? It could be that you've timed giving the treats wrong and actually bribed him not to go in.

You could try the "Look at me" technique and enter the building while he's looking at you, or if that doesn't work, just before he stops and while he's still walking, put your fingers through his collar and giving the command "in we go" keep walking into the building taking him with you so removing the chance for him to stop.

Grace (Ardera Coleen) born 18 June 2014
Raced at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton UK - 68 Races, 9 wins, 5 second places
Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 

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Perhaps a harness with a handle on top (RuffWear) would help you get him moving better as you could lift him up and a bit forward. 

 

Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Mario (2nd Chance Rescue).   Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) and especially  Nigel (Nigel), waiting at the Bridge

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harness but a trainer will be your best bet. for this i would do some one on one trainings. this way you can share what ever you have been doing and get a new focus. don't pull your hair out trying to figure this out. a professional will save you lots of time and frustration. best of luck~

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Does he have to do any stairs to enter/exit the building?

 

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On 9/12/2021 at 2:15 AM, HeyRunDog said:

It could be anything that's causing the problem from the smell of the floor cleaner (the chemical not the person :D)to the feel of the floor or has something frightened him on the way in at some point? It could be that you've timed giving the treats wrong and actually bribed him not to go in.

You could try the "Look at me" technique and enter the building while he's looking at you, or if that doesn't work, just before he stops and while he's still walking, put your fingers through his collar and giving the command "in we go" keep walking into the building taking him with you so removing the chance for him to stop.

I think it's very likely that he's afraid of something in the hallway -- I just wish I knew what it was! We haven't taught him "look at me," but it sounds like that would definitely help, especially since he gets really distracted and doesn't focus on us when we get to doorways.

On 9/12/2021 at 8:08 AM, BatterseaBrindl said:

Perhaps a harness with a handle on top (RuffWear) would help you get him moving better as you could lift him up and a bit forward. 

Thank you for the recommendation! We tried the Freedom No Pull Harness but he hates it, but it looks like the RuffWear designs might be better for him (and certainly better than our current last-ditch method of wrapping a towel around him and picking him up like a stork!). Have you tried these/had luck with a particular style?

On 9/12/2021 at 9:37 AM, cleptogrey said:

harness but a trainer will be your best bet. for this i would do some one on one trainings. this way you can share what ever you have been doing and get a new focus. don't pull your hair out trying to figure this out. a professional will save you lots of time and frustration. best of luck~

I think you're probably right about that! I definitely don't want to make things worse.

On 9/12/2021 at 9:58 AM, macoduck said:

Does he have to do any stairs to enter/exit the building?

Yes -- we're on the second floor (walk-up), and there are two steps leading into the building. He doesn't love stairs, but he's gotten used to them and generally doesn't have trouble on the inside steps. There is a back door without stairs, and we've done that sometimes, but it's really only easier in that we don't have to carry him up stairs -- he seems just as hesitant.

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RuffWear Web Master has a handle. 

The Flagline also has a handle, with the advantage of having buckles on both sides. It's also a bit longer.  We use this one on our Tripod.  

 

Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Mario (2nd Chance Rescue).   Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) and especially  Nigel (Nigel), waiting at the Bridge

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have you started recall exercises and practice on lead? that could solve many of your problems. use a long line(can be a clothes line or the dreaded flexi-lead- the ribbon type)- let them out- call or reel them back in and reward with a super good treat- HOT DOGS are the best.

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5 hours ago, cleptogrey said:

have you started recall exercises and practice on lead? that could solve many of your problems. use a long line(can be a clothes line or the dreaded flexi-lead- the ribbon type)- let them out- call or reel them back in and reward with a super good treat- HOT DOGS are the best.

The recall exercises!will help if you play games and the exercises prior to navigating your return. Stick with the fun, calling him to you is essentially checking in. A diversion and reward for looking. 

In other words change the game. Reward time, play time and continue in the apt as well. A new spin on the experience. 

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On 9/13/2021 at 5:20 PM, 1Moregrey said:

Wonder if he hear things in the stairwell but can not figure out where the noise is coming from.  Especially if there is an echo from a door shutting on another floor.  Just a thought 😜

I think you're spot on there -- when we're stuck at the door, he is very reactive to any little sound. I have no idea what to do about it, though! We're not in a huge building, but still, there's never going to be a time when there will be zero footsteps/doors closing/etc.

On 9/13/2021 at 8:10 PM, BatterseaBrindl said:

RuffWear Web Master has a handle. 

The Flagline also has a handle, with the advantage of having buckles on both sides. It's also a bit longer.  We use this one on our Tripod.  

Thank you! I just ordered the Flagline and we're crossing our fingers that he will be okay with this one! Plus, I think it will be useful for other things (like lifting him into the car).

20 hours ago, cleptogrey said:

have you started recall exercises and practice on lead? that could solve many of your problems. use a long line(can be a clothes line or the dreaded flexi-lead- the ribbon type)- let them out- call or reel them back in and reward with a super good treat- HOT DOGS are the best.

14 hours ago, cleptogrey said:

The recall exercises!will help if you play games and the exercises prior to navigating your return. Stick with the fun, calling him to you is essentially checking in. A diversion and reward for looking. 

In other words change the game. Reward time, play time and continue in the apt as well. A new spin on the experience. 

Thank you both! I will admit that we have been lax with working on recall. We do have a long lead, but when I've tried it, he seems to have no concept that he's attached to a leash anymore -- the first time we tried, I had the leash at about 10', and he took off in a sprint and choked himself before I was able to stop him. :brokenheart Have you run into that? The other option I've been thinking of is that we're lucky enough to have two fully-enclosed dog parks on our block (i.e., we can always find a time to go when they're empty), so I was thinking we could work on recall there without the lead issue.

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4 hours ago, carrotcait said:
On 9/13/2021 at 4:20 PM, 1Moregrey said:

Wonder if he hear things in the stairwell but can not figure out where the noise is coming from.  Especially if there is an echo from a door shutting on another floor.  Just a thought 😜

I think you're spot on there -- when we're stuck at the door, he is very reactive to any little sound. I have no idea what to do about it, though! We're not in a huge building, but still, there's never going to be a time when there will be zero footsteps/doors closing/etc.

I would spend time in the stairway and show/tell where the noise is coming from.  
My gh is just getting used to neighborhood sound there are roofers out now after the storms.  I explain that the people on the roof are fixing it. I let her stand and watch from a comfortable distance.  Now she is not scared of them.  The air nailer sent her into a bolting panic when it went off behind her.  We regained composure then I showed her where it was coming from and we watched for a while and moved closer and watched some more til it was no big thing.  Now she just puts her ears up and looks but does not bolt.

I have spent a lot of time on sounds telling her where/who makes then cat, garbage truck etc.  If she hears something on tv or radio I say it is fake and turn the sound off and on.  She no longer jumps up at new sounds or if the cat knocks something over.  If I say it is the cat she just lays her head back down.  If I say what was that she will go investigate.   You could try just showing where the noises come from and talking about them.  Might make them less scary and more normal.  Good luck 😉 

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18 hours ago, 1Moregrey said:

I would spend time in the stairway and show/tell where the noise is coming from.  
My gh is just getting used to neighborhood sound there are roofers out now after the storms.  I explain that the people on the roof are fixing it. I let her stand and watch from a comfortable distance.  Now she is not scared of them.  The air nailer sent her into a bolting panic when it went off behind her.  We regained composure then I showed her where it was coming from and we watched for a while and moved closer and watched some more til it was no big thing.  Now she just puts her ears up and looks but does not bolt.

I have spent a lot of time on sounds telling her where/who makes then cat, garbage truck etc.  If she hears something on tv or radio I say it is fake and turn the sound off and on.  She no longer jumps up at new sounds or if the cat knocks something over.  If I say it is the cat she just lays her head back down.  If I say what was that she will go investigate.   You could try just showing where the noises come from and talking about them.  Might make them less scary and more normal.  Good luck 😉 

Aw, that's so sweet! We may be spending some time hanging out in the hallway later. :)

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Update: We seem to have solved this problem for the time being! I wanted to share what seemed to work in case anyone else runs into this issue:

  1. This is an embarrassingly simple solution, but we found that if we hold him on a very short leash (basically right where it latches on the collar), he comes right with us without pulling. I can't believe we never tried it before (or that it makes such a huge difference).
     
  2. Earlier this week, I brought him to my parent's house. Unlike us, they have a fenced yard. When he was done outside and wanted to come back in, I'd open the door and give him a few seconds to come in. If he didn't, I closed the door and walk out of his line of sight. If he stayed at the door or whined, I opened it again, but just for a few seconds. I was mostly doing that to keep bugs from getting in, but I think he got the message pretty quick that he'd be 'abandoned' if he dawdled! I wouldn't have been able to do this without a fenced yard, of course, but I do think it helped.
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13 hours ago, carrotcait said:

Update: We seem to have solved this problem for the time being! I wanted to share what seemed to work in case anyone else runs into this issue:

  1. This is an embarrassingly simple solution, but we found that if we hold him on a very short leash (basically right where it latches on the collar), he comes right with us without pulling. I can't believe we never tried it before (or that it makes such a huge difference).
     
  2. Earlier this week, I brought him to my parent's house. Unlike us, they have a fenced yard. When he was done outside and wanted to come back in, I'd open the door and give him a few seconds to come in. If he didn't, I closed the door and walk out of his line of sight. If he stayed at the door or whined, I opened it again, but just for a few seconds. I was mostly doing that to keep bugs from getting in, but I think he got the message pretty quick that he'd be 'abandoned' if he dawdled! I wouldn't have been able to do this without a fenced yard, of course, but I do think it helped.

I'm glad you found a solution that works. :yay

Grace (Ardera Coleen) born 18 June 2014
Raced at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton UK - 68 Races, 9 wins, 5 second places
Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 

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