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I adopted a 1.5 year old golden retriever 6 days ago. I think she has mostly been adapting great to her new environment and will happily run around in the house and outside in a fenced yard (mostly concrete, some grass and mulch) and play fetch for as long as you're willing to throw a ball (has no signs of medical issues or history that I am aware of). Her previous owners said that she doesn't like to walk on a leash and will just stop when you walk. It seems like she has done that basically since she was a puppy and they stopped trying to walk her with any frequency because of it. She wore a collar normally (very loose) and they walked her using an easy walk harness (leash clip on the chest, tightens with pulling, meant for training).

When I first brought her home, they had clipped the leash to her collar and she laid down when crossing the street near my house and her collar popped off, but luckily she didn't try to go anywhere. I have since tightened her collar, but have only used the easy walk harness for all walks. When trying to walk around my neighborhood usually we don't make it more than 50-100 ft (often less) from my house before she just stands still or sits. She has also been inconsistent with her walking, so I am not sure why she stops. Yesterday evening we went for a walk around my block and she stopped a few times for a few seconds each, but was pretty willing to keep walking. She was from a quiet suburb before and I live in a city, so she did get a little jumpy when louder or multiple cars drove by which she probably isn't used to. Cars don't seem to bother her when she is in the yard. I tried to take her on a similar loop today and we probably only made it 20 feet in multiple directions from my house. I took her to a park the other day and she walked much better there too (did still stop a few times, but was redirectable and if we changed direction she would keep walking).

I have tried to use training treats and broken up milkbones (which both are enticing any other time besides on walks) and she doesn't have an interest in either. I have tried giving her treats when she is walking nice and she won't take them and they don't seem to motivate her to start walking when she is stopped. She loves tennis balls and playing fetch and those don't seem to provide any motivation or reward when we are walking either. I have been using "good girls" and petting her sometimes when she is walking well, but I don't know that it is providing enough positive reinforcement. I haven't tried pulling her much and would rather not try if it is avoidable.

Is this just an anxiety/fear thing that we can work through with more practice? Should I keep trying to go to parks where she may walk better and slowly integrate walking from my house? One issue with this is there are multiple parks within walking distance from my house that we so far haven't been able to walk to and she does well in the car, but I street park and sometimes even getting to my car is a challenge. How can I reward her when she walks well if she doesn't seem to care about the treats or balls that she otherwise enjoys?

Thanks!
 

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Have you considered that it maybe the easy walk harness you are using??

Try a simple collar with an attachment point for the leash.
Or
Try a harness with an attachment point for the leash on the back of the dog.

Many styles are available.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Have you considered that it maybe the easy walk harness you are using??

Try a simple collar with an attachment point for the leash.
Or
Try a harness with an attachment point for the leash on the back of the dog.

Many styles are available.

Thanks for the response! I have considered that the harness is the problem. I went to petsmart to make sure it was fitting ok and asked if it those were known to be uncomfortable or anything for dogs and they said it was on correctly and they didn't know of any problems. That being said, I realize that the harness still could be uncomfortable or otherwise limiting her. She does run and play in the harness when we are at parks and such, but she doesn't wear it normally at my house. I didn't initially want to spend the money for a new harness that may not help her walking, but maybe it is worth a try.

I am hesitant to just use her collar because, as I mentioned, the only time I used her collar when I brought her home the collar came off in the middle of the street when she stopped. I have tightened the collar to fit appropriately now and I think we are both more comfortable with each other, so I can try walking with her collar again.
 

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Thanks for the response! I have considered that the harness is the problem. I went to petsmart to make sure it was fitting ok and asked if it those were known to be uncomfortable or anything for dogs and they said it was on correctly and they didn't know of any problems. That being said, I realize that the harness still could be uncomfortable or otherwise limiting her. She does run and play in the harness when we are at parks and such, but she doesn't wear it normally at my house. I didn't initially want to spend the money for a new harness that may not help her walking, but maybe it is worth a try.

I am hesitant to just use her collar because, as I mentioned, the only time I used her collar when I brought her home the collar came off in the middle of the street when she stopped. I have tightened the collar to fit appropriately now and I think we are both more comfortable with each other, so I can try walking with her collar again.

Update: I tried walking her with her collar instead of the harness today. She was doing ok at first (walked 15 ft then stopped every 5 ft after but able to redirect eventually to keep walking). She was starting to walk consistently for about 40 ft straight when the wind blew and the awning of a house we were next to ruffled. It wasn't that loud of a noise or anything but this clearly scared her and she started pulling hard back towards my house (when she actually is walking, she doesn't normally pull all that bad like she was here). I got her to stop and calm down about 30 ft away from the awning, but she clearly wanted to go back home so we did.

After seeing this walk, I don't think the harness is a primary problem at least and I definitely felt more comfortable controlling her with the harness than the collar. I still may try a different harness, but I definitely think this is more anxiety and fear related than anything else. Anyone have tips on how to help get her comfortable with walking? Just frequent, gradual exposure? I don't want her to get too scared to attempt walking by trying to walk too often when she is uncomfortable either. Again, none of these things (cars, loud noises, etc.) seem to bother her in my house or yard, it is only when we are on walks.
 
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