Hi, can any of your readers offer me any advice please.
This is Missie, she's 17 weeks today. I had her 5 weeks ago from a lady who had bought her and her brother but couldn't keep them both as they kept fighting. I have 4 other dogs and she has settled in very well with them.
She had her 2nd vaccination 3 weeks ago and as yet I've been unable to walk her as she's terrified of the lead. She's fine in just a collar or just the harness but as soon as she sees the lead she starts to shake. A friend suggested attaching the lead for short intervals while she's playing in the house, but this is still her reaction as soon as it goes on. I really don't want to frighten her anymore than she already is but I would love to be able to get her to walk with the other dogs.
Janette Murphy, via Facebook
Karen Wild, behaviourist, advises…
Poor thing! Try first of all to work out if it is the lead being attached that she fears (and has learned to hide as a result of it), or perhaps she is completely unfamiliar with any lead, or is avoiding someone coming towards her. It might even be the sound of the clip that sometimes affects dogs.
First of all, forget about leads being attached altogether. Sit down with some really nice, smelly treats and just practice offering her a treat with one hand and letting her take it. Then have any long piece of webbing, even twine or string, with no clip and hold that in the other hand close to your body and still allow her to come forward and eat a treat. Next, assess if it is your hand movement towards her with that webbing that sends her into a stress reaction (licking, turning away, shivering). If so, we know that she needs to learn that hands approaching are not a threat, so pair this with tasty treats until she learns to stay calm. If she does not react to either of these it may be the lead clip or even if the lead you are using is just too wide when it is attached. Again, go to an easy stage by just holding treats in one hand and having a much thinner lead in your lap, or even the actual lead but do not try to reach her with it. Decide if it is the clip, the lead, the noise, and pair each element with enjoyment; if she loves a toy, pair it with playtime! Take your time and if possible, leave the lead lying around so she can just see it and get used to it when you are not there.
Never progress the training if she starts to shake or look worried. Stop immediately and re-think what you are doing. We need to change her emotional response to the lead and as you sound like a patient and caring person, it will not be long before she learns not to just accept this but actively enjoys it too.