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Advice or good book on training 9 yrs stressed dog


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I've had biddy 13 months and she has made amazing progress. Her physical problems are almost all sorted but I do not think she is ever going to to be your normal happy go lucky type of dog but as long as she is as happy as she can be that is ok
She has had free reign for 12 months, everything at her pace, when and if she wanted anything. Everyone said I was spoiling her but I thought she deserved it and needed to trust someone again
Going out for walks and eating were her highlights and because she was on a constant diet because of weight issues I took her out more...and this is the problem
When she is in front and going where she wants to go everything is ok but when I go in a direction where she does not want to go she will resist and dig her heels in, or drag behind with her tail between her legs, sometimes I will give in and walk back and she does not even want to do that, other times I will pull her and it works sometimes but not others. I always let her sniff every leaf, twig and lampost
I have let her off lead in secure places but she does not like it, she is at my ankles and nearly tripping me up
It has become a very big issue. I have started leaving her for short periods every day but she still came most places with me. Now if I have to get from A to B at a normal walking place I have to leave her because it would take too long
She is missing out on walks with me and when we do go out it is not always enjoyable for me or her
When Jasper developed a habit of putting the brakes on, and/or wanting to go in a different direction, I would stand at the other end of the lelad, facing away from him, and waited... and waited... and waited. Eventually, he'd realise that either he went my way, or we'd be standing there all day. (Obviously dont try this when you need to get somewhere by a certain time.) Before long, if he did stop, I only had to turn my back and hold the lead behind me and he would follow (I was careful never to do this if there was any chance I'd change my mind.)

Biddy has had a very different background, though - you'll have to decide whether this might work for her. Given her past, you may be better trying to accommodate her as much as possible. If she doesn't like being off lead, let her stay on. (A thought - what happens if you just sit on the ground or a bench, near an interesting verge, and then let her off? Maybe you could throw a few treats into long grass to encourage her to explore within a few feet of you.)

How's she getting on with staying at home alone? Would it be possible to go places you need to go on your own, and then take her for the sort of walk she enjoys at a different time? How much time a day would you be able to walk her for if you do that? Also, are you able to spend quality time in your garden (if you have one)? Does she ever play, and have you worked on basic skills with her like sit, etc. (in which case you could do some 'enrichment' type training, like a nose bump on the hand, etc.). Of course, you'd have to be careful about what rewards you give her as you want to keep her at a healthy weight.
JudyN thank you so much for your reply, I have done the bit at standing at the end of the lead, folded my arms and turned away and she did just stand there, but I always gave in
She is managing ok at spending times on her own, she is coping better than me, I worry constantly till I get back home but try not to let her know that
I did try teaching basic commands like sit and recall at the beginning but she was so stressed that I did not carry on, and the fact that she was so small it did not seem to matter at the time
I just want to be able to go out on a walk where Biddy just walks alongside me and we can both enjoy it
JudyN thank you so much for your reply, I have done the bit at standing at the end of the lead, folded my arms and turned away and she did just stand there, but I always gave in

Hemlock on this forum gave me the advice 'Take a book', which I did! But yes, you do have to be as stubborn as your dog and generally, that's pretty stubborn;)

What does she enjoy? If she enjoys heading in a particular direction, sniffing the verges, etc., is there any way you can make that more enjoyable for you too (maybe bring that book after all)? Don't underestimate how far she's come. She is now enjoying life, and that's all thanks to you. Sometimes, when we have a 'special' dog, we have to forget our idea of what we imagined dog ownership would be like, and carve out a new way just for us, accepting the dog's foibles as being an important part of who they are.

I do wonder if teaching a few simple tricks like hand touches would give both you and her confidence, and she might enjoy using her brain - you were right to avoid training that made her stressed, but she may be more up for it now.
Thanks JudyN I am unsure what to try next. I have sat on a bench many times when out with her but all she does is stand and wait for me to get up again. She makes no attempt to go off sniffing or exploring on her own even if I take and throw her favorite ball, but she is happy to sniff every leaf twig and blade of grass if she is walking and on a long lead. Every time I put her lead on I'm wondering what she is going to be like today. Taking her for a walk is no longer a pleasure. I also want to be sure that I am not in any way making this behaviour any worse. I look at other owners with their dogs just trotting alongside them and wish biddy was like that. I do not mind that she has to be in front if she would just accept a bit of guidance from me
You have come such a long way with her may not realise that you become stressed thinking about taking her for a walk and she is picking up on this ...dogs especially terriers and chihuahuas are so in tune with us they pick on on our anxiety....I know this is easier said than done but try and relax ....and dont worry too much about her you are doing a great job ....
Some rescue dogs will never be normal but as long as her life is happy that is all that matters ....:););)
When she is resisting going in the direction you want to go, can you lure her with something wonderful (but low calorie, bearing in mind her diet) like tiny pieces of chicken? Give her the first piece after three paces in 'your' direction, the second after a further five, the third after another five and the fourth after maybe another eight or ten?

Then go in 'her' direction again as a further reward.

It might help to think of this as not being a walk, it's a training exercise, so if you only get twenty paces that's okay.
All fantastic advice above. I'd like to re-emphasise some of @Tinytom's points:
You have come such a long way with her... and dont worry too much about her you are doing a great job... Some rescue dogs will never be normal but as long as her life is happy that is all that matters ....:););)

I hope you can get back to enjoyable walks very soon.
Sometimes with all my special dogs I walk I fantasise about walking a dog that just loves to walk and when you need to change direction they happily follow! Along with not having to look out for a variety of triggers or stuff on the floor that they deem edible, actually I do have one dog in my life that is pretty well balanced...mostly...kind of!

I think the key is to drop expectations and go with the flow, accept and relax. Remember when you take Biddy out it is her walk, it will become a lot less of an anxious experience if you can stop worrying about what the walk isn't and embrace what it is, does that make sense? If you need to go from A to B quickly, don't take her, you said she seems quite happy being left for a short while now so have faith when you're out that she is just fine:)
As has been said, you have come a long way with this little mite that needed you, be proud, embrace the foibles and remember 'normal' is a relative term!:D

One quick example of one of my dogs(mentioning no name/breed:rolleyes:) to encourage her to walk I played the 'sit, wait, come' game, which used to work pretty well(as soon as she sat not wanting to walk, I'd then tell her to sit, then play the game)... now I try it and when I say 'sit' she'll come, when I say 'wait' she'll come, when I say 'come' she'll sit!!:confused::D:D:D:Dyou got to love them eh!:cool:
Thank you all so much for your replies.
I took her out this morning and it was awful, I encouraged her to take the lead but she just stood, I went to turn back home but she refused so we carried on, she trailed behind and then when we had to cross the road she dug her heels in and refused. I ended up carrying her home. I just do not understand what has brought this on, I thought it might be her harness so bought a new one, am now using a collar which she seems to prefer but I don't as I do not like to fasten it too tight so it keeps coming up over her ear when she lags behind
I know she does not like walking on these pebble dash like pavements. She likes slabs but sadly they are being replaced with cheaper materials, there is nothing I can do about that, I do try to stick to the smoother pavements when we are walking anywhere
This afternoon she started staring at me and I knew it was because she wanted to go out and I just dreaded it
I put her lead on and walked down to a woman who I had only spoke to in the park (Biddy surprisingly made friends with her Scottish Highland Terrior Dougy) and explained problems I was having and would she bring Dougy out and walk with us
It was amazing, I plucked up courage and let Biddy off the lead in a small park with 3 exits and she started sniffing around with Dougy. She ignored me at first when I called her back but did eventually come back to me
Still do not know the reason for her problems with walking, but will try to encourage her off the lead more
So she walked a little way out the door before she stopped and stood?

I think, when she stops and won't go in any direction, I might sit down next to her and just... chill. After a while, if she doesn't make a move, get up and try again, letting her go where she wants. But I think what you need to do is stop thinking of these walks where you can't work out what she wants as awful, and start dreading them, because she will be picking up on your anxiety. Just have an attitude of 'let's see what happens today', and not judging it as good or bad, just... what is.

Or maybe just carry her for the bits of pavement she doesn't like and put her down when you're on a surface she prefers?
Thanks JudyN, I think she would definitely have picked up on my anxiety and emotions as I just felt so frustrated. Poor thing she would have had no idea what was stressing me out so I just made the situation worse. Another lesson learned, will just take it day by day and see how she goes
I do think relaxing is the key here and as you just said, take it one day at a time. Try not to anticipate the experience being troublesome. You asking the lady down the road to come with you seemed to help with your confidence maybe, which Biddy will pick up on, it sounded like it went well:) relax, be confident, calm and positive.
If she stops, just stay calm and talk to her... I'm always nattering away to my dogs, sometimes telling them they are being silly billys or telling them all is well and not to worry, sometimes if we sit it out they will happily continue the walk, sometimes they just want to go home and that's fine. No point stressing a dog out more by insisting they do something when they are clearly trying to communicate that they don't want to, for what ever reason.
Maybe next time she looks at you to go out, instead of dread take a deep breath and chat happily to her about seeing how far you might get today, or about how it's a lovely day for a walk. If you get down the path and she stops, you stop and try not to let the dread or frustration take over. Take it one walk at a time, or one step at a time!

One of my dogs, that I walked for a good year, rarely left her road with me! Sometimes we could be out 50mins going a few steps and stopping, while she watched the world... even heading home took time, even when it was literally across the road or one house away! This was our 'walk' and it was fine, a dog doesn't necessarily need to go somewhere in the way we think they should. They get stimulation from just being out, sniffing the air and pavements and watching.:)
Sus, I can empathise with you 100%. Perhaps it’s a rescue dog trait (a leftover from a past trauma). Remember they seem to have enhanced E.S.P and can pick up on moods. I’ve found that if I’m relaxed in spirit Mabel’s fine. Furthermore if I laugh she wags her tail - she picks up on my moods. However, she does have episodes which I can only describe as contrary. I don’t make a big deal of such as they’re not of major importance. I’m merely emphasising that a) some trauma in her past life has left its mark and b) she seems to be affected by my demeanour. Therefore, if I’m upbeat, my mood may, with repetition, dissipate the effect of the past trauma. I don’t know if I’m describing the issue and method correctly - it’s been a long day, I’ve had a long journey there and back to Thame and I’ve taken advantage of the Sainsbury offer - “buy six or more and get 25% off”.
Thanks Flobo and RGC I totally understand now, what probably started as a one off was just made worse by me becoming frustrated, I tried different harnesses in case she had taken a dislike to one, I am now back to a collar which she prefers but I don't, as she is not safe near roads and I do not place as much trust in a collar as I do a harness but guess it is what Biddy wants for now
I let her off the lead again yesterday and she just sniffed everything in sight at her own pace.
I did notice her panting after just trotting around the field which should not have tired her out.
I did not take much notice at first as she used to do that about 6 months ago when she knew it would get attention from me, this stopped when I realised what she was doing and ignored her
I do not think that it was deliberate this time, though I cannot be sure. Maybe this could have been the reason she has been reluctant to walk, digging her heels in and slowing down
Could breathing or heart problems come on suddenly? She is 9yrs old and her original owners were very heavy smokers.
She has been to the vets 9 times in the last 14 months so I would have thought that they would have picked up on any medical problems though I have my doubts about that
Only problems she has now or these dry scally areas on different parts of her body which I apply duoxo mousse to then when the scaly bits come off she has dark pigmented skin underneath. Three different vets could not tell me what it was and all suggested something different
Problems with her anal glands and they wanted me to attend every 8 weeks to have them emptied which I have refused to do. I discussed it with Honeys and have now started her their recommended raw food diet with bran added twice a week and she seems to be doing fine
Just this panting now, will keep watching and if is a problem then this might be the cause of the issues she has been having when out walking
Sometimes the panting can be a sign of discomfort or pain... may also explain the reluctance to walk?
Right I will definitely keep an eye on her and see if this continues
She is eating and drinking with no problems and absolutely loves the raw food and the treats I had from Honeys and am continuing with the fish skin chews for her teeth
I do hope she is not in pain, if it is stress then I will do everything I can to relieve it
Don't underestimate how much warm, humid weather can affect breathing - it can be easy in the summer to think that there's something up with your dog when it's just the weather.

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