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We have a springer spaniel almost 6 months old who acts like he is afraid of everything on our walks now. He's been coming to work with me everyday since we got him and we go for a walks each day around noon for about 15 mins. It's a small city environment but we're on a river so half the walk is calm in park like setting, then the other half is through city sidewalks. We were doing a basic loop about .5 miles for a while but I've been trying to increase that gradually and now we're up to about a mile or so. But increasing distance means new places and he now is afraid of everything he can't focus on the walk and it's become zero fun. I try to get him to pay attention and focus ahead with treats, but they aren't enough.

We've gone to puppy classes, we're now in intro to agility and continuing puppy classes...he's been getting lots of socialization. He's very responsive, confident and friendly at home, in the office and at training but it all goes out the window when we go on walks where there are people, cars, noises...even strong wind near the river.

It's frustrating to say the least...anything I can do to make this more enjoyable for us both?
 

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Adolescent dogs have fear periods, just like little puppies, so it could be that. My Welsh springer went through funny periods where he was spooky around the same age. Things we used to pass easily, like a small horse farm, suddenly made him stop and stare for 30sec before we could keep walking. Very windy days also made him spooky.

Do you carry treats on your walks? I would have a pocket with some delicious high value treats. When you see him starting to get nervous, get his attention and have him focus on you while giving him treats.

Also look up "Look at that" training. The basic idea is to click/treat for the dog looking at something that makes it nervous, until the dog learns that the scary object = treats and isn't so scary after all.
 

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Yeah we bring treat but I can work on the 'look at me' with the clicker. Also someone just said let him bring a toy so he can focus on carrying that...we'll see. Looking forward to better walks.
 

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Yeah we bring treat but I can work on the 'look at me' with the clicker. Also someone just said let him bring a toy so he can focus on carrying that...we'll see. Looking forward to better walks.
Yes, toys can help. My boy is much less focused on his surroundings when he's carrying a stick.

Also, not sure if I was clear, but "look at me" and "look at that" are two different exercises. In one, you ask for him to focus on you, while in the other you actually ask him to focus on what is making him nervous. It's sort of counter intuitive, but it really works. Both can be successful, but for a dog who is nervous about things I find "look at that" to work better. You don't necessarily need the clicker - a verbal marker like "yes" will work just as well.
 
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