TeddyHilton.com reader, Chrissy, writes in with a question:
I have a miniature dachshund. He is a sweetheart. Loves people and other dogs. My ONLY problem with him is, he is terrified of being outside and going for walks. He will literally only go on walks if it is me AND my husband (even that sometimes won't happen). If one of us tries to walk him–he just won't do it. He will pull you back to the house and choke himself while doing so.
We even bought a harness in hopes he would walk better with no such luck. I cannot think of any traumatic experience that would have made him so afraid of being outside. Any advice on how to get my dog to enjoy being outside?
Dr. Patrick Mahaney responded:
Thank you for contributing your question to TeddyHilton.com. The Dachshund is such a cute, yet occasionally unpredictable breed from a behavior perspective.
When it comes to working out issues with canine behavior, there is never a clear cut answer. If he is showing an aversion to walking with one of you solo (or occasionally with the both of you), then you need to strive to make the experience as positive and safe as possible for him.
I am pleased to hear that you use a harness instead of a cervical (neck) collar, as the additional strain he puts on his trachea (windpipe), esophagus (food tube), and spine can cause serious damage. Have him frequently wear the chest harness, so that its presence is very comfortable and familiar to him. Use the leash and chest harness combination to take him for short walks around the inside of your home, so that he gets used to this appropriately restraining modality for his grand debut into society (besides your home).
In all situations, use positive reinforcement, such as a food treat, to lure him forward (and out of your home) on his walks. Once he accepts the treat, pleasantly and enthusiastically praise him.
If he refuses to walk, pick him up, take him to a safe location, put him down, give him a sit-stay command, then verbally praise him and provide a food treat. In doing this, he will not have the upper hand and you will "win" by taking him to a new place that requires him to positively acclimate as compared to having him fall back into the pattern of seeking out a familiar/safe space within your house.
Should this situation continue despite pursue an examination with your veterinarian (to rule out underlying health problems that could contribute to his behavior) and a consultation with a Diplomate of the College of Veterinary Behaviorists specialist (see http://www.dacvb.org/) as they will help you to best manage the problem from behavior modification and medication (if needed) perspectives.
Feel free to connect to me further via my website, www.patrickmahaney.com.
Dr Patrick Mahaney
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