Ok, firstly, let’s try something new here. Since I can’t seem to want, or have the energy some days, to get emotionally involved in a post about my prison pups (who are doing GREAT and are only a few weeks from graduation!!!), I decided I would blog about dog training in general when I actually felt like writing. Wish me luck!
One of my cases today included a four-month old french bulldog puppy who puts on the brakes when his owners want to take him out for a walk. First things first, he’s a four-month old puppy. Meaning, he is just BARELY a puppy, but closer to the ever so obnoxious stage of adolescence. Secondly, he’s a Frenchie — characterized by strong will and “stubbornness.” Stubborn, although a human characteristic, is often a word that is used to describe dogs. But remember that dogs don’t rationalize the way we do. They either like to do something, or don’t like to do something. And, there are specific things that cause them to either desire or not desire to do those things. Using my super canine training detective skills, here’s what I think regarding the little frenchie that just wont budge:
– he’s recently moved from a cooler climate to Miami
– he’s a brachycephalic breed. Or, a “push face” dog, meaning that breathing is already difficult. Try breathing on a hot day.
-dogs are already over 100 degrees at their normal operating temperature. You think it’s hot? Try being a dog on a 90degree summer day in Miami.
-his coat is black
Just these things alone lead me to guess that his desire to go for a walk has nothing to do with whether or not he’ll have the opportunity to greet a friendly stranger or meet a new puppy friend, but instead whether or not he’ll overheat, his paw pads will hurt him on the hot pavement and if there will be access to water when, not if, he needs it. He WILL need it.
And then, I come to learn that he only does the doggie pancake or donkey planting move when he’s in the neighborhood. If he’s taken somewhere new, fun and novel, he walks like an angel. So, it all make sense! His desire to stay cool outweighs his desire to walk in the every day “boring” area he has already sniffed around in. But, put him somewhere new and novel with new sights, sounds, and smells, and suddenly being hot is just something he’s going to have to put up with in order to enjoy the new and exciting environment. Not to say that he won’t get tired quickly, but he’s more likely to suck it up and go. Makes sense, yes?
Trust me, there’s nothing I hate more than telling a dog owner that I think there’s nothing wrong with their dog and that the dog is just hot, but it’s the truth! Not to mention that he’s a young boy with an attitude, and is more likely to exhibit “i don’t wanna” type behaviors at this age than when he was just a month younger. Puppies under 16 weeks are so compliant, unbothered, and jolly. Puppies merging with adolescence? Try getting a teenage girl to talk to her mom. It’s about the same sort of struggle. Then again this isn’t a good comparison for me because I happened to be one of those girls that always loved talking to her mom. I digress.
So what’s the solutions if your dog is like Mr. Frenchie?
-Walk your dog at dawn and dusk. Other trips outside should just be for potty, ideally not too far away from shade, water and access to air conditioning. You will be surprised to learn that your dog doesn’t exhibit the same behaviors when the temperature is significantly cooler
-Allow your dog to walk in the shade, even if you have to go out of your way to ensure his paw pads stay cool. Remember that dogs don’t have heat receptors like we do. This means they don’t sense “hot.” By the time they feel pain it’s already too late…their paws are literally scalding.
-Take water with you and offer it to your pooch frequently
-If your dog puts on the breaks do not hesitate, keep walking! After all, you DO need to get to wherever it was that you’re going right? And, he is attached to you, right? So realistically, you’re either the one who is allowing him to stop and shut down or keep moving. If we look at the principles of negative reinforcement they tell us this:
A tight leash = bad dog
A loose leash = good dog
So, when our dog puts on the breaks and we slow down to accommodate and loosen the leash we are essentially reinforcing the “bad” (although bad is subjective because I don’t think wanting to stop because you’re hot is bad at all!) behavior. Instead, if your dog puts on the breaks, do your best to keep some tension in the leash. Gently pull or tug forward until your doggie starts moving and THEN create slack in the leash. This way you’re reinforcing your doggie for moving forward. This should be coupled with LOTS of praise, and maybe water too! If you have a brachycephalic breed like a bulldog, boxer, pug, etc, I would strongly suggest you only be walking your dog with a harness, especially when it’s hot out. My favorite for summer are harnesses with a metal ring in the front so that you can use it LIKE an Easy Walk front clip harness, or something like a pupia harness which is very comfortable and can be left on your dog for extended periods of time. The reason I say “like” and Easy Walk harness is because not all breeds, depending on the size of their chest, fit comfortably into an Easy Walk.
If you have a donkey for a dog, I look forward to hearing from you :) And remember, you don’t have to be rough (RUFF!) to teach your dog stuff.
xo, Doggie Deeva