Fixing the "Freeform" Walk

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Fixing the "Freeform" Walk

Post by Foster539 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:10 am

We are fostering a little Brussels Griffon who was rescued from a puppy mill. She is 2 years old and doing really well - except for leash walking. She wants to go as she gets very excited and runs to the door when we are leashing up our Affenpinscher for his "walkies". If we put a leash on her and take her out, she darts wildly in every direction. If the leash gets taut at all, she wigs out and tosses her head, leaps in the air and then hunkers down and refuses to move. I am thinking that after 2 years in a cage, she is overwhelmed with the sense of freedom but she does not exhibit this behavior when roaming in our fenced backyard.

Any suggestions on how we can slowly get her to calm down on the leash? FYI, I am not using a retractable leash - just a regular 6 foot nylon leash. We are a very long way from good leash manners, but I'd like to move toward being able to walk her. RIght now, the "freak out" runs its course, she refuses to move and we pick her up and carry her back into the house. (Good thing she is only a dainty 9 pounds). We have not gotten a real walk in since we began our foster stint 3 weeks ago. Thank you in advance!

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Re: Fixing the "Freeform" Walk

Post by Fundog » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:41 pm

If it were me, I would put her in the car, drive her to a field or a park, and put her on a long-line (50ft). Let her zig and zag all over the place, let her get her bearings. Since she's a tiny dog, and not used to getting much exercise, she will tire very quickly. At which point you can replace the long line with a normal short leash and take her for a calm, 15 minute walk. Reinforce the calmness of it with lots of praise and occasional treats, and she will make some associations with the goals you have in mind.
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Re: Fixing the "Freeform" Walk

Post by Sabrina » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:44 pm

(I started typing and was interrupted, so I didn't see Fundog's advice before I went to post mine!)

Hi there! Oh, poor little girl - she's lucky to have someone like you!

Is she fearful of having the leash clipped onto her? Or does her panic not start until she's outside?

If it's not the leash itself that is making her fearful, I think I'd start with "walking" her on the leash inside. Do you have a hallway in your home? I'm wondering about putting her leash on her, and then taking a step forward and dropping a treat so that she'll step forward, too. (Be sure your own dog is somewhere else - maybe in a room with a yummy kong or something so there isn't any competition for the treats!)

For now don't worry about her not getting "real" walks. From what you describe she simply can't cope with being on leash outside - to dogs being outside on leash is very different - they know they won't be able to flee from what they judge to be dangerous. When you describe how she won't move after her wild darting to and fro, it sounds to me like she is "shutting down" when she discovers she isn't able to flee should the need arise. So maybe working with her inside will help her learn that being on-leash means she'll be close to a human who is the source of good things (treats!).

Are you fostering her for a pre-determined amount of time?

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Re: Fixing the "Freeform" Walk

Post by Foster539 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:33 pm

I like the idea of letting her get her "ya ya"s out in an open area on a long lead. We just tried again and there were two boys playing wiffle ball down the street and she made a beeline for them! She is not really scared, just over-excited I think. She has no fear of the leash, but does not like it when the leash does not let her go where she wants to go.

She is our 11th foster dog in the last 10 years. We normally foster Affenpinschers so she is our first Griff. We are enjoying her immensely. I am hoping I can talk my hubby into keeping her! But for now, we need to get her ready to be a loved pet before she can go up for adoption. I have fostered 5 previous mill dogs and she is amazingly affectionate for one.

Thanks so much for the great ideas.

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Re: Fixing the "Freeform" Walk

Post by DianeLDL » Sun Aug 11, 2013 3:51 pm

I want to commend you for being a foster parent to so many dogs. What great work you are doing! Fantastic! :D :D

Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

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Re: Fixing the "Freeform" Walk

Post by victorianpaws » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:57 pm

Hi! Recently we adopted a dog who behaved exactly the same when there as any form of leash tension.

The best way we found to help ease her tension was to start putting the leash on her at random times throughout the day for extended periods of time, even if we weren't going for a walk. Being overly excited when the leash came out was probably her worst walking plague. At first it took her awhile to calm down, and level herself out but after doing that for about a week she hardly even cared if I took the leash out because it didn't mean she was going for a walk at all.

It also helped if she had it on when she was around our other animals or when people were over. It would get stepped on, pulled, tugged, and tangled all the time. While we kept an eye on her to make sure she didn't get hurt or caught any where, it made her calm down quite a bit when any form of a tension was applied to the leash. The next step was tying her leash to our other dog and letting them out into the yard. At first she fussed just a much as if it had been a human walking her, with the slight progress she had made form wearing it constantly, but it only took a few minutes before she followed our grandpa dog around easily. The process just naturally moved on from there with us walking our other dog with her tied to him at first to get the idea down with lots of praise and rewards after she was calm and didn't react poorly to the leash till eventually it was us holding the leash. It took a few days of several walks and lots of commitment but now I would trust a toddler to walk her!

I with you the best of luck!

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