Q: My boxer girl is crazy walking outside, she is parnoid and fearful of everything. help
I got Layla at 5months from a guy that was going to place her in a shelter. she is wonderful with other dogs/kids even cats. But taking her for a walk in a semi city enironment is a nightmare. She is afraid of trunks, bikes, men in trenchcoats. Layla is 50 pounds of pure craziness when we walk. She has become a bit better since I have her for 4 months but she is still scared to the point of unexpecting bolting if she sees the trunk and I don't. This is my second boxer and she is a great dog with issues. i am happy to work with her but I have never had a dog that when you show them the leash the dog heads for the hills. No separation anxiety noted.
Mar 17, 2010
so the beautiful layla is 9 months now? that can be a tough age for dogs w/insecurities. they're old enough to have developed fears, but still haven't quite been around the block enough times to learn how to cope w/them. however, these fears aren't so ingrained as they could be another year or two from now, so you should have a lot of luck w/her.
when walking layla, try to keep her distracted from trucks and trenchcoated men or keep her focused on something more challenging. in a hectic city, the former is almost impossible when the dog is really afraid, but some things that may help you are the "watch me" command and a favorite toy and/or treats. always remain calm and avoid reassuring her, b/c when she's nervous you're only reassuring the need for that behavior. if she can't be distracted, keep her focused on the walk. boxers are a great breed for doggie backpacks. you can buy one online and what they do is add weight to your dog to make the walk more challenging. why this is great for boxers is that they need a more challenging walk anymore and for layla, it should help w/her insecurities. if you're into jogging, take her for a jog instead of a walk. if you're not a jogger, strap on some skates or jump on a bike. increasing her pace will force her to keep her mind on what's ahead and where she's going. she won't have time to freak out about the truck b/c she probably won't even see it. i would still work on the "watch me" command w/her though, b/c she will have to face these fears at some point.
desensitization would be very beneficial to her. you said she is afraid of bikes and i told you to jump on one w/her. this is part of desensitizing her. you may be able to have her run beside you while you're on one, or you may have to start running her along w/someone who is on a bike. start small and work your way up gradually. the more time she spends around what scares her in a way where she can't focus on that fear, the more comfortable she'll be around these things.
if she's not already going places w/you outside of her daily walks, start taking her. wherever dogs are allowed, that's where layla needs to be. this is true to all dogs. they have to be introduced to everywhere, everything, and everyone in order to trust the situation and know how to handle themselves.
good luck and any more questions you have, just ask. there's always someone here to walk you through it.
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Mar 18, 2010
I am by no means an experienced dog owner, but I have similiar issues walking my 3-legged yellow lab rescue dog. I don't know a lot about his previous history, other than he was more than likely mistreated, abused and his previous owners didn't get him the vet care that he needed after his run in with a vehicle.
Your dog sounds like she needs confidence building in new situations and with you. I try to walk my dog when there are very few distractions and noise around. Believe me, no one is walking their dog at 6:30 in the morning like I am in the freezing rain. My dog is very unpredictable around other dogs, certain human men, and certain vehicles. He has a very strong pursuit drive, and is easily put on the defensive around other dogs. I suspect that he has been in his share of dog fights.
Keep your walks short and try to end on a positive. My dog tires very easily as he is still adapting to moving on 3-legs. Try not to get frustrated as that can lead to your getting angry with your dog or the situation. You can't control what you encounter on your walks, but you can control how you respond/react to them. If you are calm, then your dog should be calm.
I have fallen back on my work with high strung Thoroughbred ex-race horses for calming my dog down. Try not to convey any of your anxiety or apprehension to your dog by stiffening or tensing up, or having a change in your voice. If my dog starts to react to something, I stop moving him forward and get him to sit and stay. I let him see what is approaching him and allow the vehicle or jogger to pass us while I crouch next to him and reassure him with my voice and conveyance of calm (not always successful or easy) and let the moving object pass us and get out of our line of sight before continuing. I also try to keep up a steady stream of conversaton while I walk my dog so he is focusing on me and my voice and not the big, bad UPS truck rumbling down the road.
Distracting your dog with a toy may work, but this has not worked for me. I must walk a very fine line between being calm and firm, and being overly authoratative and commanding/demanding as my dog will literally just shut down if I get like that.
Walking your dog is the best way to build a relationship with her based on trust and mutual respect. Once your dog learns and realizes that bad things don't happen to her on walks and that they can be fun, she should relax. With my dog, I must always be vigilant and looking ahead for hazards or problems so as to prepare my dog for them and to be unreactive myself. I can have my dog totally ignore some yapping little dog but get his hackles raised over another, larger dog who isn't even looking at him or barking. I just never know what may trigger a strong response in him.
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