Monday, May 10, 2010

The Pulling Problem

Can pulling be a sign of stress? I'm really trying to figure this thing out. Janda is a FANTASTIC dog except for her pulling problem--but that's a huge problem as it's aggravating an old shoulder problem that I got from when I had Arturo. I think I've narrowed it down to two things:

  1. it's a sign of stress
  2. she doesn't see why she should listen
It's not that she doesn't know what to do. I don't think her problem is even that she doesn't want to do it. I think she just has no motivation to actually DO it. Which is why when she's on food reward, she's great.

The reason I'm wondering if it could be a sign of stress is that when we went downtown Seattle, she was the worst I've ever seen her. She was absolutely not listening to anything. Corrections, commands, nothing. I got so fed up with her that I put her on the Halti a few blocks into our trip. Anyone who knows my philosophy with my pups knows that the Halti is a last resort. Then, today, while we were walking through campus at "rush hour" I realized she was trotting next to me on a perfect loose leash, on the flat collar, without food reward of any kind. She's done the school thing so many times, it's old hat. 

So can shutting down handler awareness be stress? She definitely pulls in other situations, too. Like on walks around the neighborhood she pulls all over the place and gets really sniffy. She also used to pull a lot at school, but not so much anymore. When we were at the grocery store, she pulled a little but after a good correction and re-focus, she was fine. 

Thoughts? Opinions? Advice? I have a competition in a week and a half and I can't be killing my shoulders since there's a PT test.


Ally, Eclipse, Teddy and Kira said...

Pulling on leash CAN definitely be a sign of stress. Some dogs get so overwhelmed by the environment around them that they don't seem to notice that the leash is tight or even that there's a person on the other end. Of course it'd take a good, hard evaluation of her body language to see if it's stress related or her telling you she really doesn't care :-)

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

I'd say absolutely it can be a sign of stress. Ellie would totally shut down and would start pulling (any direction) when she had too much stimulus for her to handle. She still does actually. I also believe that is why she is bossy when situations get out of her control. She is a very Type A personality and reacts to situations when they get too stressful or chaotic. Obviously, there can be many other factors involved for Janda, but yeah, I agree. Good luck with her! It could have just been a puppy brain day! :D Hope your shoulder heels soon.

Erin and GuidePupPompei said...

Yes sounds like that might have been an overwhelming environment for her,perhaps find out what treats are high reward - something they will eat no matter what - and only use those during that time, also find quiet areas to give you and her plenty of breaks to refocus and calm down.