Border Collie that doesn't like to walk

Posted by jlchristopherson
Apr 27, 2011
Tucker is 2 1/2 and very smart. Sometimes too smart for his own good. I have a lot of issues with him but the one that I don't see addressed I am e-mailing about.

I know that we are supposed to exercise our dogs every day, and I am trying. I like to walk and I try not to miss a day, but it is hard when he fights me on it. We will start walking and then he decides he doesn't want to go any further and then just stops and lays down and then he rolls on his back and rubs around on the ground. I try to pull him and then sometimes he gets up and will walk, just to start all over again in 2 or 3 minutes. Sometimes I drag him on his back thinking that he is walking, when I look back I see that I was wrong. It's like he hates walking. I take him to a place where I can let him run and he loves it at first and then on the way back he just sits there until I come and put the leash back on him and make him walk. I don't know what to do. It is very embarrassing and frustrating. I have tried to use a leash from The Dog Whisperer (The Illusion), but he still pulls me in the beginning. He likes to pull when we start out and then when he sees the car or home. I've tried to do the tricks that Cesar says to do, but it doesn't seem to work. I end up choking him sometimes with the collar because he pulls so hard. I have stopped using it and am using a harness instead. I want him to enjoy his walks not hate them. He would rather stay home and just play with sticks all day. let me tell you, that get's old and even he gets bored after awhile. He has gotten hit with a stick (by accident, because I will throw it and he isn't looking and then get's
smacked with it). He will sometimes get scared that I am going to hit him
again, so instead of going to get the stick he runs up to me and goes between my legs and looks scared.

Do you have any ideas? My dog is definately dominant of me. After reading some of your articles, I have realized that some of the cute things he does like, pawing us when he wants to be pet or be massaged is him being bossy. Does the walking thing have anything do with dominance?

Please help!

Thank you,

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Apr 27, 2011
Hi Julie,

I understand your frustration but I don't think his issue has anything to do with him being dominant. He is just confused and something is bothering him. As for nudging to get pat is not a sign of dominance either. He is telling you what he wants. You can just tell him "Not now" if you are busy.

I am not a big fan of Cesar Millan because he always concludes dogs' misbehaviors to dominance. Dogs misbehave (to humans point of view, but not standing from dogs'point, so I should say "Dogs don't behave as we expect") because we are not communicating them in the way they understand.

May I ask you some questions?

When did you get him, how old was he? Do you know any of his story if you adopted him not as a puppy?

Has he taken any training classes? Does he look at you when you ask him to do things? Do you always praise him or give him treats when he does what you ask him to do ("positive marker" like "Yes!" or "Good boy!")?

Noah, one of my own dogs, has some weird behaviors. He is very sensitive about shining/slippery floor at Pestmart, and the water pumps used in aquarium. He stops at invisible line and doesn't go any further, even an inch.
He loves to walk other places.

Have you tried many other streets with your dog? Does he do potty on his walk?

What does he do when he meets other dogs on his walks?

Sorry I am asking too many questions but I would like to see certain patterns that he behaves that way. Like the stick - he gets cowered after you accidently hit him with a stick. Some dogs it takes a long time to recover from some bad things that happened to them.

Please be patient and observe him closely and try a lot of different things, including walking back once he stops and see if he walks back happily home or not. If he does, that means something inside him is telling him not to go any further, etc.

Dogs are so interesting. That's why I love them!!
Posted by KOPCaroline
Apr 28, 2011
Hey Julie,

I think MHN's questions are valid, knowing the past/upbringing of a dog can clue you into strange behaviour.

Have you ever brought anything along on a walk with you? Like a toy of Tuckers, or treats he likes? When he does his, stop, drop, and roll, stop with him, then in an excited voice say "come on! Let's walk!" or something similar and encouraging, and squeak the toy or shake it in front of Tucker, or wait for him to get up and start walking, then give him the treat or let him lick it (if you dont want to give him heaps of treats on a walk). Its about providing encouragement and a good doggie reason to get up and walk. Hopefully if he responds well, you can use the aid less and less, and walks might become happier and happier. You could even bring a stick if nothing else, and shake it in front of Tucker, since he likes playing with them so much.

When you take him somewhere to go off lead, try throwing sticks for a few minutes when you first get there, then let him do his own thing. Ultimately you can't make him run around the whole time, but most dogs will get bored of sitting in one spot after a while and will at least sniff around, so stick around as long as you want and see what he does.

This is just a start, hopefully more ideas come when we learn a bit more about Tucker and his behaviour
Posted by jlchristopherson
Apr 30, 2011

Thank you both very much for taking the time to reply. Actually, you asking so many questions is great, so don't be sorry.

I have had Tucker since he was 8 weeks old. He used to be really good on walks, but the older he gets the stranger his behavior becomes. Last spring is when he really changed on walks. A couple of times, dogs have ran out to us when we were on walks. They didn't hurt him, they just wanted to sniff him. I was not ready for the dog to come flying and I got scared because it was so sudden. I blame that on myself. I think that he sensed my fright and then thought that he should be afraid. I try to not show any emotion when we walk, but it is sometimes hard. Like I said the dog came out of nowhere. I wasn't worried the dog's would hurt him, they just startled me. After those times he stopped wanting to even go down those streets and little by little he stopped wanting to go down too many others and I noticed him becoming more leash aggressive. That is when he started the stubbornness. He didn't want to go down that street so he would just plant himself on the ground and fight me to walk. I stopped going down those streets for him, but then he figured out he could do it and then I wouldn't make him go. I finally stopped giving in and made him walk. If he is off leash, he is fine - not aggressive, but if a dog comes up or runs up to him and sniffs him he tries to bolt. He puts his tail between his legs and tries to sneak off. Now he is very leash aggressive and territorial. He is aggressive towards other people that walk by our house or just walk by us when we are walking. He never used to do that. he used to always want to sniff someone, now he lunges and barks. He hasn't bit anyone and when I look at him I notice that he is scared because he barks, but also backs off. One time we had some guys over to put up gutters and I was alone with him. He started barking at them, I told him to stop and he did, but then 2 minutes later he started again. I finally had to take him in the house. He has even started barking at our neibhors at their house when I took him over their. All the guy was doing was standing against the doorway talking to his wife and I and he started barking at him. He has been at his house numerous times to play with their dog since he was a pup. I think that he is trying to be protective of me.

I take him for walks along a trail and he has never had any bad things happen to him on it. No dog running after him or anything. He is the one that goes after them when we walk by them, so that's why I think that he just doesn't want to walk. I have tried luring him up with a treat and sometimes it works and then he will stop after 2 more minutes. If I turn to go a different way he will sometimes go and other times he just won't budge. If I go back towards home, he is thrilled and practically pulls me home. I then get frustrated because I would like to walk as much as he needs a walk.

I did try taking him to training, but, I worked all day and by the time I got home, he was so full of energy that the last thing he wanted was to go do some training. He did learn things real fast, when he did pay attention. I never did get him to walk right next to me. He wants to walk faster than I can. I would love to be able to take him roller blading or biking, but I'm afraid that he would knock me over and I would break something. He doesn't walk in a straight line and if he sees another animal he goes balistic. He obviously needs a lot of training, and I am slowly trying, but he makes it difficult. We have broken a couple of bad habits, but the walking thing is really not changing. I blame a lot of his bad habits on myself, because when he was a puppy I let him walk all over me and didn't think he would be the way he is. I also couldn't help laughing whenever he would do some of his stuff. I thought it was so cute. I never thought that it would create so many bad habits. I have had dogs all my life and never have I had such a challenging one. Don't get me wrong, I love him very much and he still makes me laugh every day. I too am a great lover of dogs and other animals.

I see some questions I actually missed. He does go potty, no problem. I do praise him whenever he does something good and I scold him when he is naughty. I even give him treats for being good. When I let him off lead, he takes off and then finds a stick and we play for a little bit and then he will take off again, then stop and play. He throws the stick to me and I throw it back to him. He will try to jump up and catch it most of the time and then I try to throw another one and he runs up to me like I am going to hit him, even if the stick is so puny that it couldn't hurt him if it did hit him. He crawls between my legs and I have to tell him its ok and then he is happy. I've heard that the cowering thing is common with border collie's. They don't like yelling or talking loud either. Tucker will crawl between my legs any time I raise my voice - even if it is to just talk loud enough so that someone can hear me.

Thanks again for the interest!

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
May 1, 2011
Hi Julie,

Thank you for giving us some history of Tucker. I don't have much time right now so I will be quick and maybe abrupt. I apologize for it ahead of time.

I think Tucker is under-challenged. He is a smart dog and he is a herding dog - he needs more work and more challenges. I assume he is the only dog so what is he doing during the day when you are at work? I assume he is just waiting so patiently for you to come home. Then, you want to take him for walk but he doesn't like walks. You want to throw sticks but he gets coward. You want to take him to training classes but he has too much energy to burn and cannot concentrate in the class.

I think you need to review your daily routine and make something that would work for him. I personally think that you should start taking him to dog training classes again. They are the best way to build dog's confidence by providing guidance for him and giving him positive reinforcement, as well as giving both of you ways to communicate. It will really challenge him in his ability to comprehend and behave as the owner, you, wants him to. In fact, my dogs look tired after classes.

There should be weekend classes as well. You can throw balls in your yard for good 15 mins before the class to release his energy (if walking is not practical). Once you and Tucker on track of good obedience classes, it will be easier to walk him, and there are all kinds of fun things for both of you to try, such as agility, canine freestyle dancing, etc.

I will think about this a little more and will write again. Sorry, I have to go now. I am babysitting my grandsons and they are waking up from their nap now

OK. Now the boys are in bed so I resume what I wanted to say.

Tucker doesn't walk. He stops and gets down to the ground and refuses to walk. It looks like a result of you being nervous about other dogs coming by. He is uncomfortable to continue the walk. He walks back home happily shows it. Is there any one route that he can walk comfortably? How about just going around the block? How about driving a few minutes to start walking in a totally new neighborhood? Anyway, find a way that you and Tucker can walk comfortably and repeat that every single day. Gradually, you can expand the area but don't take the routes he doesn't like. During the walk, include some training sessions. Have him Sit, Stay and give him treats. Have him Stop at each crosswalk and give him treats. Make your walk as fun as you can. Make it as a routine so that he gets all excited when you take out his leash.

As I said, enroll him in an obedience class and discuss his issues with the instructor. Challenge him by playing games at home. Hide toys or treats everywhere and send him to look for them. Set up little obstacles in your hallway and have him jump them. When he can jump them, make a big fuss! Find all kinds of things that he can do and praise him. As you train him, you will get to know him better. He will start looking at you as someone who always gives him directions.

Start from a very easy trick. Put a piece of treat on the floor and cover it with an empty tub (like a margarine container). See how he can solve the problem to take the treat. He might push the tub and the tub might get flipped over. He can get the treat then.

Even he doesn't get it at first, he might just look at you as if saying "Can you get me the treat?". That's good. Move the tub and give him a treat. He will start looking at you for directions.

Anyway, create situations he would ask for your directions or solutions.

Your life wit Tucker will be much much fun and less frustrations. I think both you and Tucker need to build up confidence to be a good dog and a good owner. Good luck!
Posted by KOPCaroline
May 4, 2011
Hey Julie,

Just to basically re-state some of what MHN said and give my take:

I do think a really good first move is to start walking Tucker somewhere brand new, even if it means driving a few minutes down the road to find a new starting point. If he's associating walking down familiar streets with you getting startled and thus startling him, a new start might do some good. Alternatively, give bike riding a go; if he's not used to the bike then it'll be a whole new experience for him and you can start it off happy. My own dog did really well with biking from a cold start, he was well enough behaved on the lead that his basic "common sense" took over.

Doing something with Tucker to release energy is pretty much a must, border collies need a lot of exercise, both physical and mental. I'm basically in total agreeance with MHN here, classes and at home challenges sound really good.

You could also try buddying Tucker up with a friends dog, for play dates and joint walks. This could also help him not startle so much if he sees his doggy buddy not being bothered by approaching people/dogs/whatever, and sees him enjoying the experience. I know you said Tucker is now nervous in situations he's pretty much grown up with, but if you start slow, by just bringing Tucker to the other dogs house and vice versa, all the while chatting happily to your friend so that youre sending out good vibes, and ignoring Tuckers nervousness (without cornering him), then he'll gradually get more and more comfortable and recognize his friend as just that - a friend!

I hope you see progress with him, it'll take some time to get him comfortable, but it will happen!
Posted by kidunotgoatsyahoocom
Jan 5, 2012
He use to enjoy walks so I agree something happened, probably when you were startled. However, if you haven't already have the vet give him a physical to make sure nothing else is going on. If he walks a certain amount of time then experiences pain, for instance, due to a physical problem and that is why he is stopping then the vet can help with that. Once you determine he is healthy then proceed.
I have a couple of other suggestions.
1. Determine a place to walk with an end goal that is obtainable. If he normally goes 5 min. then quits make it a 4 min. walk. You want to end the walk on a positive note. Make sure walk your chosen path alone first to determine the potential for dogs to come charging out. You can't guard against everything, but you need to be as confident as possible so your dog will be confident. Consider driving to a high school track or even a golf course before or after hours that allows dogs on the cart path but is less likely to have another dog there to come up to you. Consider it a temporary place until you and Tucker regain confidence. Make sure if there is an accident you clean up after Tucker so you can come back.
2. During the walk give positive reinforcement; "yes" when he gives you all his attention and stays up with you, treats, a toy, etc. Read his body language and quit BEFORE he says quit. It should be your idea not his in his mind.
3. The end of the walk should include something fun that your dog loves to do. Does he like water? End at a river where you can play in the water.
4. Arrange with a dogfriend to help you. There dog will need to be calm, obedient and able to stay focused on their owner. Go for a short walk from opposite ends and work at passing each other with no fuss. Wants confidence is built, meet briefly in the middle of the walk with dogs at a sitstay then continue the walk. Do as many days as neccessary to build confidence.
What does Tucker do immediately upon returning home from a walk? If it is a reward for him than remove or delay that. When you arrive home maybe put him through some training paces before releasing him. Keep them fun but make it something that doesn't just allow Tucker to do whatever he wants. If you feed him immediately after a walk stop it. Wait until much later.
Just some thoughts.
Posted by kidunotgoatsyahoocom
Jan 5, 2012
I reread one of your posts. Tucker sometimes runs away with tail tucked between legs and sometimes acts aggressive. It sounds like Tucker is doing the aggressive act out of fear. The old I will act tough before you try to eat me. If he is on leash with no way to escape he may see this as his only option.
I agree with others to restart obedience classes and get him lots of socialization. BC are very smart and need to work. You say you never could get him to go in a strait line with all his energy. But it sounds like you did teach hime what 'heal' means. Right now, don't do strait lines. Mix it up. Forward, change directions 360, now to the right, then left, little circles, big cirlces, suddenly go backwards and call him to you. Walk slow, run, go diagonal an try to get him to keep up with you. Make him think and keep guessing your next move. Get his attention on you and off potential boogiedogs. You're attention will be off boogiedogs and on your dog too. It should help both of you to relax and have fun.
Posted by Cgregoli
Jan 6, 2012
Hi Julie:

I'm no expert, but I've been doing very intensive rehab with a fear-aggressive dog the last several months, and a few of the thing you've mentioned resonate with me. My dog was first diagnosed as dominant-aggressive, and that couldn't have been more wrong - the effects of following advice for an incorrect diagnosis were disastrous.

As relates to your issue, my boy, a chihuahua/terrier mix, didn't like walks and would fight me even trying to leash him. When I could get him out the door, he'd walk just a short way, then stop and refuse to go any further unless I dragged him (which, of course, I didn't want to do). I knew he was terrified because of prior issues, that I won't get into here. What worked for me was to just stop where he did, let him relax until he started moving around on his own (usually a few minutes that seemed like hours!), then lure him forward with a "come" command with a treat reward and lots of praise when he came even a step toward me in the direction I wanted. A couple of come/treat cycles, then I took him back home. With patience and repetition, the walks got further before he'd balk, and now I can take him on a walk (10-20 minutes) with almost no stops except for business/marking, but I still always carry a couple of treats, just in case!

Perhaps that, along with the new area for walking that was suggested, might help him get moving as you'd like. Good luck with Tucker and keep in good cheer - once he gets what you want and gets past whatever is bothering him, he'll be great!!