I figured out Zeke’s skittishness!

It is, indeed, barbecue smells!!!!  Thank you Memorial Day for helping me to make certain of it. In the early morning Zeke and I went for a normal, calm walk. At about 1:00 (barbecue time!) I called him to the door, put on his leash, opened the door, and he ran up the stairs…and then BOOKED it back down the stairs, crashing into my legs nearly knocking me over. Not one, but two neighbors were barbecuing only a few houses away. Poor dog! But I’m so excited that now I know what it is. I’m also upset with myself because it was me (inadvertently) that caused it.

I remember now about 6 months after I got Zeke and he was finally manageable on walks (training a 50lb pulling dog to walk on a leash for the first time is one tough feat) I wanted to get him used to walking in different neighborhoods and around large crowds. We had been practicing crowds (walking past shopping centers, etc.) so I decided to take him to a street fair. I remember him being frightened so I had him sit on the side out of the way. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure we sat behind one of those mozzarella stick/shish kebab food carts. My bad, Zeke. I failed. I was new to dog behavior and didn’t realize the extent to which he was frightened. This also explains why gets nervous around that street too. It all makes sense now.

Today, despite being a rainy day, one of my neighbors was outside barbecuing in his garage. When I opened the door and called Zeke to come to his leash- he balked and ran away with his tail tucked. He’s never refused to go out before! It solidified for me that he is afraid of barbecue smells; it also gave me the opportunity to start helping him.

I grabbed a stick of pupperoni, called him to put the leash on and when he reluctantly came over, shoved  a piece of pupperoni in his face. He ate it! Success #1! Usually when he is skittish he refuses treats. I encouraged him with “good boy!”s in my happy voice and when he went up the stairs another huge piece of treat. Then when I was finally able to get him to pass the barbecue I gave him the rest of the stick. By the time we were a block away he was calm again! Usually once he has freaked out he is wierd and unresponsive for the entire walk. Success #2! We did a nice, long, rainy walk with his 16foot extendable leash, practicing recall. When we were half a block away from home, he began to get nervous so I had Doug bring me another treat stick. This time he refused the treats at first but after some encouragement and throwing them around, its hard for Zeke to refuse a moving target, he started eating them, in view (& scent) of the barbecue grill. By the time we went inside, his tail was still down but not plastered underneath him and his ears were more relaxed and no more whale eye. I’m so excited that we can work on this now!

The one confusing thing Doug and I discussed is why camping doesn’t affect him. We have grills and fires going all over the place. We came up with the simple fact that he loves camping and is, in general, much more relaxed up there and usually is hooked on a longer tie-out line, not a short leash, which might make him feel freer and more at ease. Can’t wait for more neighbors to barbecue so we can practice some more!


to my runner friends: I ran my first 10k in 65mins. I really enjoyed myself! Can’t wait to continue with longer and longer races….


~ by manicivy on May 28, 2013.

2 Responses to “I figured out Zeke’s skittishness!”

  1. Well done on your 10k and figuring out what was freaking Zeke out! Successful week 😉 Tuchena also refuses treats if she is unsure of something.

  2. Excellent detective work! You’re becoming the dog whisperer…. Nice 10 time too! Woo hoo!

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