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Discussion Starter #1
I adopted a 5 year old female Australian Shepherd who is a wonderful dog but has one problem - she is not walking well. This happens mostly on leash but occasionally, off leash.

We've had her for 3 weeks now. For the first week, she walked great. I did up to 2 hour walks with her. But, in the last two weeks, she has been very inconsistent. When I have her on leash, she will walk a block then suddenly stop and refuse to walk further. I try quick little tugs on the leash to give her the message but she won't move. She is also reluctant to leave our property. She will walk to the driveway and then stop.

In the evenings, before bedtime, I take her out to pee and don't bother with the leash. We live on a quiet road so I try to get her to follow me for a half block or so but she just stops at the edge of our property and won't move.

There is nothing physically wrong with her, I'm sure. I haven't seen a vet because of the current shutdown but I can take her to the park and she'll chase a tennis ball for an hour, leaping and running freely.

I was hoping it would just be a matter of time but she is actually getting worse. Here's what I've tried:
  • Positive commands, crouching down and calling her towards me.
    • She will come to me very slowly and then stop.
  • Short, quick sideways tugs on the leash.
    • Does not work at all.
  • Treats. I will hold the treat out to her and urge her towards me.
    • She walks slowly to the treat, eats it and then stops.
  • Toy. She loves chasing a ball so I show it to her or bounce it in front of her.
    • This works about 25% of the time but if I use it too often, the effect seems to wear off.
  • Remove the leash.
    • This usually works (about 90%). She will follow, sniff around and move at a brisk pace. Obviously, I cannot do this all the time and I feel like I'm conditioning her to walk off-leash only.
A few comments about her personality. She is submissive and very much attached to me. She does not like me out of sight and will follow me around the house. She is fearful of other dogs and sometimes people. She shuts down when another dog approaches or if someone is walking with a cane or just behaving abnormally. However, I will take her for walks at dawn with no one around and she will still shut down. Most of the time, there is no one is sight and she shuts down.

For an Aussie, she's rather low energy. She seems content to lie at my feet all day and get the occasional scratch. When I play ball with her, she'll run for 30 minutes or so and then slow down. She will still chase but she'll come back to me slowly. She may be 5 pounds overweight (working on that).

Do I need to just be more patient or is there something else I can try? If I let her walk off-leash (in a safe area), is this reinforcing her behaviour?
 

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You have only had her three weeks. Back up on everything. Don't feed into the fear but don't put her in a situation where she will become fearful. She sounds overwhelmed.

And do NOT let other dogs come up to her (or people). Get between her and the approaching dog or person so she knows you have her back and you will take care of things. Show her you are reliable.

Don't force it. Give her time. Give her space. Off leash in a safe area is OK as long as there are NO other dogs and NO other people.

Walk her a short distance and return home before she stops.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You have only had her three weeks. Back up on everything. Don't feed into the fear but don't put her in a situation where she will become fearful. She sounds overwhelmed.

And do NOT let other dogs come up to her (or people). Get between her and the approaching dog or person so she knows you have her back and you will take care of things. Show her you are reliable.

Don't force it. Give her time. Give her space. Off leash in a safe area is OK as long as there are NO other dogs and NO other people.

Walk her a short distance and return home before she stops.
If I returned home before she stops, we wouldn't even get off the property half the time. The other half, when she's does leave the property without stopping, her first stop is about 20 feet down the road. Often, the only way to get her on the grass to do her business is to walk her off leash.

As for people, she is extremely friendly and inquisitive. Walks right up to them and wants a pat.

I believe her wariness around other dogs has to do with her having been a former breeding female. It's a separate issue from her leash walking reluctance because I have tried to walk her in the middle of the night when no one is around, dogs or people, and she does her shut down routine.

We did make some progress over the last couple of days. I switched her from flat collar to a harness and she is much more willing to walk. She did dig her heels in on the first day but it wasn't until 15 minutes in. Twice, we did 30 minute walks without a single stop.

I think the problem is entirely leash related.
 

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She may have never been trained to walk on a leash. Try leaving the leash on her and let her drag it around (even inside). I would not have a loop at the end to get stuck on things.. maybe just a line.. and leave it on her even when she goes out in a fenced area to go to the bathroom.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
She may have never been trained to walk on a leash. Try leaving the leash on her and let her drag it around (even inside). I would not have a loop at the end to get stuck on things.. maybe just a line.. and leave it on her even when she goes out in a fenced area to go to the bathroom.
I'm sure that's it. I don't think she's even used to having a collar on. She scratches at it a lot. I now have a harness on her and although she originally hated it, she's getting used to it and the walks are much more consistent.
 

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It's not always necessary if a dog isn't walking well, so it's because of any physical disability. Get your dog checked and have some medical reports. I think it could be because of any spine deformity, perhaps. And I think you should keep in mind her previous history before training her any further. Treat her with love and care. Be patient, for she ill take time to adopt new patterns. But there might be a possibility that shes did not use to leash. Well, all I can suggest is to be patient and train her in the possible easiest way.
 

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Take her to a vet if you already haven't. Be sure it isn't a physical issue. Then get her used to a leash. On short walks praise, praise, praise.
j
 
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