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Hi all,

I am hoping others that have seen or dealt with this before can share some wisdom here. I have a four year old English Bulldog that, at this point, refuses to take her daily walks. As a puppy, she had no issues walking wherever I would take her. Over time she has continued to shorten the distance away from the house that she is willing to walk and has learned a lot of tricks on how to resist walking to places she doesn't want to.

Most recently she has learned that going completely limp makes it impossible to move her, short of picking her up and carrying her. This isn't easy with a 65 pound dog of course. I'm all too familiar with the stubborn behaviors of the Bulldog, but this seems excessive.

I have noticed that if we are walking in the direction of home, she has absolutely no issues. It seems to only be a problem when we are walking away from home. When my wife and I both walk her, she has minimal issues. If only one of us walks her, she refuses. And while she does seem food motivated in the house and has learned many tricks, they do not motivate her on the walk.

She seems initially excited to go on her walk and loves to smell as many things as she can outside, but appears fearful of the walk itself. She is a social dog who loves to meet and play with other dogs and has some interest in meeting other people, but appears stressed outside of the home much of the time. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. I am interested in finding a trainer if this is something that would help, but I'm not sure what training would be best. Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide!
 

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This does sound like a situation where you'll have to address her underlying fear before you see any improvement in this behavior. For a good introduction of fear in dogs and basics of how to work with them, I often recommend Dr. Patricia McConnell's The Cautious Canine. It's a short, inexpensive book by an experience professional in animal - and specifically dog - behavior.

I think finding a local behaviorist who can observe your dog in person (or at least via video, given the current situation) would be your best bet. This could be a veterinary behaviorist - a fully qualified veterinarian who has further specialized in behavior problems, behavior modification, and psychiatric medication - or a regular behaviorist (can't prescribe meds but can tell you if they might be a good option for your dog). For regular behaviorists, check with third party organizations like the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers (Certification for professional dog trainers and behavior consultants) or the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants), because the trainers and behaviorists listed by these orgs have had to meed certain education and hands-on experience requirements. Sadly, dog trainer or dog behaviorist aren't protected titles, so there's plenty of clueless, inexperienced people out there advertising themselves as one or the other, which can do more harm than good to a fearful dog.
 

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I'm sure DaySleeper will disagree with me...... but.

I think your dog has learned how to control you. I don't believe the dog is fearful of the walk, because he seems willing to walk towards home and he begins the walk.

My suggestion is to out-stubborn him. For instance, when he goes limp during a walk, simply sit down next to him and wait. He will get up, then continue the walk as normal. Make no fuss about the limpness, just praise for the continued walk. Break the habit of carrying him. He has 4 good legs that work.

Sometimes a dog will become hot during a walk and just lay down. Snub nose dogs like the English Bulldog are prone to over heating.
 

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Well, yes and no @Knute. The dog is trying to control the walk, but they're not doing it just for control's sake. They're doing it to gain access to a resource. The interesting bit is that resource is home - a place the dog has access to all day, every day. This isn't a dog that's learned bratty behavior will get their owners to take the path to the park, this is a dog trying to return to what is, presumably, a safe space.

Most confident dogs enjoy new locations, smells, sights, etc. Typically to the point where we accept dogs need this kind of enrichment and stimulation to be mentally happy and healthy. So why is this dog frequently refusing to engage with the environment?

Combined with refusing food while outside - a classic sign of stress in food-driven dogs - and dcbh themselves reporting that she's stressed often while away from home (I'm assuming in more scenarios than just walks, but correct me if I'm wrong!), makes me think this is more an emotionally driven behavior issue than a training issue. There may be an element of some kind of separation issue, with the behavior being more prominent when being walked by just one owner, but it's hard to judge without more information. I'm genuinely not sure what this dog's triggers might be from dcbh's description, which is where professional visual assessment comes in handy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you both for your help. It is much appreciated. I would say you are both spot on in that my dog is both fearful and controlling in nature. Despite her small size, the breed is very strong and she has the muscle to resist. @DaySleepers, thanks for the reference and I will look in to behaviorists through the links you provided. @Knute, waiting her out is a great idea, and something I have tried many times. Unfortunately, she will sit what seems like forever until I give in. I cannot tell you how many times I have waited (we're talking 30 minutes or more in some cases), but she will lay on the ground waiting for me to give up.
 

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Yeah, I know. My mini-schnauzer is very stubborn too.

I have laid down at the opposite end of the leash. Laid in the grass for a good 25-30 minutes. I almost took a nap. After a bit, my dog came to sniff my nose. We got up to continue our walk. The temperature was in the upper 90's and we were about 1 3/4 miles from home. We found some water which we both needed. It took about 45 minutes to get home. Apparently, my dog was hot and thirsty.

My point. Wait.

A tip: Don't wear a watch when on a walk. Take your time. Consider the walk as time for the dog to be a dog.
 

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Yeah, I know. My mini-schnauzer is very stubborn too.

I have laid down at the opposite end of the leash. Laid in the grass for a good 25-30 minutes. I almost took a nap. After a bit, my dog came to sniff my nose. We got up to continue our walk. The temperature was in the upper 90's and we were about 1 3/4 miles from home. We found some water which we both needed. It took about 45 minutes to get home. Apparently, my dog was hot and thirsty.

My point. Wait.

A tip: Don't wear a watch when on a walk. Take your time. Consider the walk as time for the dog to be a dog.
You're actually proving DaySleeper's point here though. Your dog didn't stop walking to try to control you or the walk or because your dog was stubborn. Your dog stopped walking because it was hot and thirsty.
 

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I think that all the greeting of other dogs and people may be at the base of your issue, especially if you believe the issue is from fear. Balking (which is what this is) is a form of resistance that is usually based in a lack of confidence.

When you go out, do NOT have your dog ever greet other people or dogs while on leash. A lot of people with dogs allow this. It leaves the dog with no support system. Most dogs REALLY DON'T want to meet other dogs or people in spite of the excited way they act. Advocate for your dog and get between the dog and other dogs and people. If someone asks to pet your dog the answer is No. They want to pet a dog, let them get their own dog.

Physical discomfort can cause balking (as you have noted).

I would work at home, with her being HUNGRY (skip her food before training or, even better, make her work for every piece of food she eats called Nothing In Life is Free NILF), on getting up and coming to you for really high value food treats. By high value I mean a food that she is nuts for. I use bits of those pre-made frozen Italian meatballs, cheese sticks, deli Turkey or Roast beef.. I knew someone who had a dog that was crazy for Corn Chips.. whatever floats the dog's boat. This at home work must be consistent and the dog, again, should be really hungry. I would use a clicker and click teach the lie down AND then teach "get up" clicking and feeding for getting up from the lie down.

I would suggest you walk with her as a couple if you are going any distance. Make sure she is HUNGRY and have really good food to help her be motivated if she balks. If walking alone I will venture a guess you know right about how far she will go before balking. Turn around and take her back before you get there. Don't give the dog an opportunity to display the behavior you do not want. On the way back home do the "lie down" and "get up" routine you already taught her at home.

Nothing I have suggested here is aversive to the dog. In the case of balking, aversives will likely make it worse.
 
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