Battling Zeke’s skittishness…

Today while doing some extra scrubbing at the zoo, I decided to come up with some guidelines to help “fix” and/or get to the bottom of zeke’s skittishness. Basic thoughts are:

1. feed him before his night walk

2. keep walks fun and simple for now (no heeling, sitting at street lights, etc.)

3. treat for walking calmly

4. avoid problem blocks

5. if Zeke appears anxious immediately outside of the house, go back inside, take leash off, ignore & try when he is calm again.

6. Thanks to Coomberism’s suggestion I decided to try the sudden u-turns and direction changes as soon as Zeke exhibits any fear behaviors; this will have him focus more on me and less on whatever is making him freak out.

Tonight’s walk was much improved from the past 4 nights. He walked calmly the first half of the walk & was rewarded with intermittent treats. When we crossed the boulevard to go back home (anticipating home???) he started sniffing and his tail lowered. I implemented the “ignore & change direction plan”. We walked to the corner….he leaned forward to bolt….BAM! u-turn. Walked down the block, Zeke’s tail lowered & hindquarters dropped…BAM! we crossed the street for no reason. haha. It was kind of fun and a little therapeutic for me, instead of worrying why he was acting wierd I had fun picking random moments to walk in all crazy directions. After 10 minutes or so of this he relaxed a little and did, indeed, start paying more attention and even sneaked a few looks at me to see where we were headed next!

It was very interesting. Whether he is rebelling in some twisted way or truly afraid of something at least doing things this way will make him focus more on me. As one dog trainer told me once, “you tell your dog how to react to a situation, don’t let the dog react on his own.” I think in this situation that advice applies because I know he is not in imminent danger but maybe he thinks he is. Or maybe he’s just acting up. Either way, this is the plan and I’m sticking to it! Updates to follow…

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~ by manicivy on April 13, 2013.

5 Responses to “Battling Zeke’s skittishness…”

  1. That was such good advice! Our obedience trainer did tell us the same thing when Sam would want to play tug of war with her leash when first learning to walk.

    Along that same line of thinking we were also told to give Sam a stick, ball, or her favorite, a glove to carry when we would get to a known problem area. She then had a job to do and not get distracted by everything else.

  2. I hope Zeke is settling more now on his evening walks – you feel a bit silly with all the random changes of direction to begin with, but if all it takes is a little bit of crazy, its worth it!

    • thank you so much! he is still getting nervous at times but not as severely as before. The other morning we went to one of his trigger areas (to test his progress) and he acted more reluctant than scared so I’m not sure if that’s an improvement but it was easier to walk super slow than have him bolting. (;

  3. Reggie acts likes this in the summer, at night. I think he has “muscle memory” for fireworks. These are great tips!

    • thats very interesting! I was getting worried when he acted this way 5 nights in a row, I didn’t want it to become a standard, but since then it has gotten a little better. Sometimes now it will happen at his shorter afternoon walk and he’ll be fine for his night walk…? So confusing, but I’ve decided its better for both of us if I (right now at least) stop trying to figure it out and just remain calm. (; I hope Reggie can work through it too!

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