Help! My dog won't walk

Posted by Beverly-Sheehan
Sep 30, 2010
I have a 2 year old, 150lb South African Farm Dog(Boerboel). She is fearful of most everything outside her territory(yard). She will leash up and start out the door for a walk and then decides she's not going anywhere. She throws her 150lbs to the ground and won't budge unless I lead her back into the house. This problem has been going on since early in her life. We've had trainers trying to help with this, but Chelsea(my dog) just doesn't get it. She isn't very social with people or other dogs at present. She is okay with most family members that come to our house after her excitement eases, but goes crazy at people & dogs walking by our house. She has a very hard time staying when commanded to do so. She is very well behaved inside the house except for doorbell activity, which she is getting better at now. But I feel in my heart that if she would just go for walks that alot of her fears and socialization will just fall into place with continued training. I guess my worst thing is just gettting her to actually walk around the block without thinking there is some doom lurking to harm her. I can sometimes wait her out and she will finally go, but only a couple of houses and then wants to pull me home. I am at a loss as to what to do for her.HELP!!!
Posted by kjd
Oct 1, 2010

I understand your Chelsea is not socialized with people or dogs, mostly due to her fear of leaving her own yard. Of course, staying in her own house and yard compounds her lack of socialization.

How large is your yard? Could you practice going on walks in the yard? Rather boring for both of you, but she will be used to walking on a leash by your side and know that, at least in the yard, nothing bad happens. Then try walking her on the sidewalk (or street if there is no walk) in front of your house. Don't rush it; she's had two years to build up her fear.

When she goes crazy with people and dogs passing by, are her hackles up? Is she showing aggression? Or is she just barking at them?

Meanwhile, see if you can get people to come over to her. Maybe just stand and talk to you while ignoring her. This is a way to gradually socialize her with people. If you are afraid she might be dangerous, you can always introduce her to the muzzle. You may have to put her in a sit-stay and have her "watch" you while people come up. (I'm jumping around a bit because I don't know exactly how she reacts or how much training she has had.) If she tends to lunge, you can attach two leashes: the regular one you walk with and which you will hold, and a strong, but lighter one, that you will attach to an immoveable object (I'm keeping in mind this dog probably outweighs you!) Then you have her in that sit-stay, watching you. The stranger, to her, comes up to talk with you. As soon as you see Chelsea START get agitated, have the stranger back off a bit. Keep introducing her to different people as often as possible.

For dogs, if your yard is well-fenced, you could invite a dog over for a play date. Start them both on leashes and see whether they are willing to play. If they are, you can either let them play while still holding the leashes (I've had dogs roughhouse while both are on leashes; they can do it) or unleash them to play in the yard.

This way, you can socialize Chelsea even before she starts long walks. Also, you are not pitting your strength against hers. (I know who would win.) Patience is the key.

Others may have better ideas.

Let us know how Chelsea comes along,
Posted by KOPCaroline
Oct 2, 2010
Hey Beverly,

I like a lot of kjd's ideas.

Introducing Chelsea to the process of walking on a lead in a gradual way is probably the best. You can even start with putting the lead on her and letting her walk around the house with it attached, but you not holding it. When she's ok with that, go to walking around the house with her at a "heel" position, on the lead. Gradually move out of the house. To help get Chelsea excited about the concept of going off the property, you can try opening your gate, standing just outside it with a treat, and calling her excitedly to you. Make a big deal of it whenever she goes to the gate in a happy fashion. If you mailbox is outside your gate, taking Chelsea with you to get the mail (on a lead) is also a great way to get her off the property for short spurts until she's better with it.

When you do start taking her out for walks, bring treats with you and stop often. Have her sit and then give her lots of good pats or a treat, or both. The aim is to make the act of going for walks a really happy one that she'll want to do again.

For being better with strangers and other dogs, have you considered a puppy class, or obedience school? Its a great way to work on socialization and listening skills. Also have friends come round more often, as kjd said, have them ignore Chelsea when they do. If they have dogs and are up for playdates, give that a go. Just take it all slowly, as kjd advised.

Hope this helps, just be patient!
Posted by Beverly-Sheehan
Oct 5, 2010
This goes out to kjd & KOPCaroline:

Thanks for the tips for Chelsea. I am diligently trying hard with her and she seems to want to listen to me better lately. I still have problems with her not wanting to go on walks. She will not walk around the back yard either. She just lays down and puts her paw over the leash. It's SOOOOOO frustrating, but I am learning to be more patient with her. We do have a large backyard that she loves to retreive a stick or frisbee, so she does get to run around. I find that it's kind of difficult to round up a friend with a dog to come by due to busy lives, but we will keep trying to make a play date.

What do either of you think of muzzling her and taking her to a dog park? Should I keep her leashed or let her just go? It will most likely be me that will be nervous. She's not great at recall(except around the house so far) so that is what would worry me.

Thanks again for your input. Will keep looking for advice from anyone with any to give me.