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My 2-3 year old tripawd island dog rescue doesn't enjoy going for walks. She's very fearful and, especially if she sees or hears another living creature, she will stop dead and then actively try to retreat to our dinghy (we live on a boat, and she loves having her "own island"). Not even the most high value treat can change her mind. It's taken me the better part of 2 months just to get her comfortable playing on the big marina docks - but ask her to step ashore and everything changes. Even on the dock, she avoids people (but loves their boats..) and other dogs. Sometimes, if she sees men she growls and her hackles raise but that has lessened considerably. People can coo at her and be friendly as all get out, but she will never leave my side to greet them. People who think she's adorable and want to pet her without asking are the bane of my existence but I can usually stop them in time. She's never bitten anyone, but with her insecure body language (tail tucked, head lowered, trying to walk away) I feel it is completely possible.

Sometimes I just sit 10' off the dock, with peanut butter for her to lick off my fingers. It gets her to hang around longer voluntarily and the licking seems calming. Usually, these days, I can get her to sit comfortably with me and play the name game ("Pi"- she looks at me - treat - repeat as appropriate) and, if she's relaxing, give me high fives. I try to save the best/most treats for our time off the dock.

Occasionally, there is a puppy that wanders the docks and will accompany us off the dock. I am not sure if this puppy helps Pi feel more confident or if it's more a jealousy issue (she gets agitated, at first, when I pay attention to the puppy), but she will venture much farther with company. It's unfortunate that I have no friends with dogs at this time because a buddy might just be the ticket.

Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any advice, tips or tricks. She is not toy motivated. She is just learning about toys and I can only get her to play with them on the boat currently. When we "play" on the dock, it's usually practicing recall, stay, basic commands, and we both enjoy looking at the boats (she wants to ride on every one..).

I should probably add that if we have to meet the vet or walk down the street for any reason, I usually end up having to carry her a ways (less than ideal, I know) to make it. On the way back, she walks like a dream dog.
 

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I meant to answer this earlier and just remembered! Going to blame holiday brain.

What happens if you try completely or partially dog-directed walks? What I mean is either just letting her chose where to go (obviously not allowing anything dangerous or highly rude to other people, like getting on their boats), or you direct it at the start by walking off the dock, but every time she turns to go back to your boat, go with her. It's not something I've implemented myself for walking issues like this, but it's following the principles of cooperative care I try to use in husbandry training. Essentially it's where when a dog realizes they have the power to end a scary/uncomfortable experience, they become more confident and willing to engage in the scary thing.

If it's possible to get where you are, I'd consider a vest, leash wrap, or other sign for your dog gear that says something like "Nervous Dog, Do Not Pet" (or the equivalent if another language is more widely spoken where you are). Many times they're yellow, as there's been an international movement (The Yellow Dog Project) to try to push yellow gear or ribbons on gear to indicate a nervous or fearful or otherwise DINOS (Dog In Need Of Space) individual. They don't always work. People won't read, or will read it out loud while going in to pet her. But it might cut down on some off the unwanted attention, at least.

Another 'hack' to keep people respectful is to train her to wear a basket muzzle. The Muzzle Up! Project website is my go-to resource for how to positively train a dog to wear a muzzle happily, as well as tips for how to find the right style and fit. Many times a dog wearing a muzzle makes people think twice about getting in their space and fussing over them, and you can always say "oh she tries to eat rocks/cigarette butts/etc" if anyone tries to give you trouble about her being 'dangerous' because of it. It's kind of a bummer people see a muzzle and assume the dog's dangerous, because they're such useful tools for so many situations, but occasionally it can work in your favor.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I meant to answer this earlier and just remembered! Going to blame holiday brain.

What happens if you try completely or partially dog-directed walks? What I mean is either just letting her chose where to go (obviously not allowing anything dangerous or highly rude to other people, like getting on their boats), or you direct it at the start by walking off the dock, but every time she turns to go back to your boat, go with her. It's not something I've implemented myself for walking issues like this, but it's following the principles of cooperative care I try to use in husbandry training. Essentially it's where when a dog realizes they have the power to end a scary/uncomfortable experience, they become more confident and willing to engage in the scary thing.
Dog directed walks are a bust. She will gladly lead me back to the dinghy and sit there waiting for me to bring it along side for her. It's kind of funny, really. Pi gets really happy to go for a dinghy ride. Sometimes I'll just take her out for a "Sunday drive" to look at boats at anchor and talk to people. She always sits quietly and takes in her surroundings. Other times we go to the dock, and she's never interested enough to get ashore that she'll get out of the dinghy without being asked a couple times. Pi then will wait for me to be ready before beginning a wander, usually to take a pee. 30 seconds later, she returns the dinghy with a look that screams, "OKAY HOOMAN, I'M FINISHED.". Oddly, she's not terribly curious.

Pi in her dinghy..
263704



Pi waiting to get in our dinghy.... :LOL:
263705
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If it's possible to get where you are, I'd consider a vest, leash wrap, or other sign for your dog gear that says something like "Nervous Dog, Do Not Pet" (or the equivalent if another language is more widely spoken where you are). Many times they're yellow, as there's been an international movement (The Yellow Dog Project) to try to push yellow gear or ribbons on gear to indicate a nervous or fearful or otherwise DINOS (Dog In Need Of Space) individual. They don't always work. People won't read, or will read it out loud while going in to pet her. But it might cut down on some off the unwanted attention, at least.

Another 'hack' to keep people respectful is to train her to wear a basket muzzle. The Muzzle Up! Project website is my go-to resource for how to positively train a dog to wear a muzzle happily, as well as tips for how to find the right style and fit. Many times a dog wearing a muzzle makes people think twice about getting in their space and fussing over them, and you can always say "oh she tries to eat rocks/cigarette butts/etc" if anyone tries to give you trouble about her being 'dangerous' because of it. It's kind of a bummer people see a muzzle and assume the dog's dangerous, because they're such useful tools for so many situations, but occasionally it can work in your favor.
All great ideas! I can probably make up something to sew to her harness. I also have a package of Pi supplies that will be shipped out soon. Who knows when it will get here, but I could order a sew on sign for her. :)
 
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