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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19590
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hello My 11year old dog who normally loves her walks with

Resolved Question:

Hello
My 11year old dog who normally loves her walks with me. Will only go now if someone else comes with us. When her behaviour changed I took her to the vets and was told she had small cataracts so this could be effecting her. What can I do because it is not always possible for someone to come on every walk.
Thank youths
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.

Is it the same person that comes with you all the time?
Does she walk in front of you, at your side, or behind you?
When someone comes with you, does your dog walk between the two of you?
So you have clicker trained her? Did you only work with her and the clicker for 4 days?
Is her other senses ok? In other words can she hear well and smell fine?
Have you tried anything else?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

When I take her a walk around the streets my mom comes with us. When my sister-in-law is not at work she takes me and Lucy my dog with her dog to the park or woods etc. Most of the time when walking around the streets she walks behind one of us. At the park she is more confident and walks most time the full length of her extending lead away sniffing at everything occasionally will walk behind. The clicker worked for 4 days to get her walking with just me the 5th day I started of the exact same way with the clicker and she would no move she pulled to get back down the drive and as not worked since. Her hearing seems fine and her sense of smell is fine too. She flinches if bird flies over or branch hanging over the path or if lift my arm to wave or if something suddenly appears

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Jackie,

The cataracts might be contributing to the problem. It may be that when you are walking with another person, you and the person are talking and she can tell where you are easier and feels more confident in walking since she knows where you are. When you are not talking, she may have a harder time knowing where you are, if it is you and being comfortable walking.

When a dog loses their sight, then need to be confident in the owners ability to lead them. For instance, an owner has to be sure the dog is not walking into things (including the owner), knows where stops and steps and other obstacles are. I recommend working with your dog on commands like go, stop, step up, step down, and even left and right. You can read more on these commands and living with a blind dog here:
http://www.blinddogs.com/
http://www.blinddogs.net/tips_help.html

This training may require you to work extensively with your girl now while she still has a little sight left so she understands the commands once she has no sight. For instance, you would take her to the bottom of a curb or stair or even create a platform. You would give the command and move her up the step, reward with a tasty treat like a vienna sausage sliver or liver sliver. Make it a great treat as regular treats are often ignored.

Repeat the exercise over and over again until she automatically goes up with the command. Then work on the step down. Once she knows them, you can try it in an actual situation. Practice the stop command giving the command and then preventing her from moving forward. Remember to reward good behavior and don't try to reassure any fearful behavior. She doesn't know it is your hand all she sees is a shadow that might be a large object or something else falling toward her. It will take time for her to adjust to her new condition.

In the park, there is likely enough smells that she can navigate prett easily by smell alone. Clicker training is great but it takes conditioning your dog to the clicker long before using it to get a specific response and does take patience. Let me give you a site that goes over clicker training.
http://www.clickertraining.com/whatis

You might consider a professional trainer come in to help train for these commands as well. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.
http://www.apdt.co.uk/dog-owners/local-dog-trainers

Once she learns the commands, she will have more confidence in walking along with you. For now you might try keeping up a running conversation with her while you are walking. You might stop and help her when you come to obstacles and work on giving the command,then helping her step down or up, etc. All of this will give her confidence in your ability to guide her.
.
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

At the moment her sight is only slightly effected such as something going over head she walks perfectly around obstacles up and down steps and as never walked into anything and is normal in the house and can see a spider a mile off no one would no anything was wrong. The advice about l giving commands for steps and stairs is useful to start now, but at the moment there is no problem, and I have always spoken to her whilst walking. I do clicker train her in the house so it is not just when we go out and have used special treats. in the house she will do everything but not outside I have not given up on the clicker and try every day but she will not walk I have tried for weeks.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Jackie,

Dogs often see movement much better than they can actually see an object, so keep that in mind. I am glad you are talking to her when walking. I would be sure to do it all the time. Also remember to say her name before commands so she knows you are asking her to pay attention to the next thing you say.

If you feel is is not related to her eyesight then she may be hesitant to go for another reason though I do not know what might cause her to worry on your walk. Some dogs that have been attacked will hesitate to go on walks again. Also dogs with some health problems will not want to go on long walks.

Also, when walking with others you may not be paying as much attention to her and just expecting her to walk with you and thus she does. Often ignoring a dog when you are walking them because you "expect" them to do as they are supposed to do, works quite well. I tell my customers not to look at their dog when walking. Look at them out of the corner of your eye and look ahead, and at the trees and act confident and dogs pick up on that and tend to do what they are supposed to do.

If she is in good health and doesn't have any medical issues besides the cataracts, then you will need to work with her in your own yard first and then work on leaving the yard. The first thing would be to get her next to you rather than behind you. The easiest way is to have that special smelly stinky vienna sausage slice in your hand coating it with the oil. This way the smell is on your hand even after you have given the treat and before you get the next treat out of your "treat bag". Let her smell the treat in your hand and walk forward. If she moves forward with you, open you hand and let her have the treat, every few steps, give her a treat. If she is a small dog, you might want to cut those paper thin sausage slices in fourths so she doesn't get too much at one time. The aim is to get her at your side while walking and for her to want to be there. Initially go around the yard. Once she is walking at your side all the time, start making her do more steps in a row at your side to get the treat. It might take a couple of weeks to get her next to you and staying there walking forward. Once she is then start out the driveway a short distance and then bringing her back into the yard. Just to get her out there and getting the treat for it. Be sure to work with her when she is hungry as well. It makes training go easier.

Once she is doing this consistently, you should start changing directions, etc. giving the dog warning so she will know. She won't be able to see you change directions in the future, so best to start the signals now. Remember to be confident. You might also see if she reacts the same way to someone else walking her by themselves without you. If she goes with them, that might indicate that you might be worrying about her not going and she is feeling that tension and becoming worried about leaving as a result.

She is also elderly and may just not feel like taking a lot of walks. Walks are a good thing, but when are dogs get older, we sometimes have to make adjustments such as walking slower which I'm sure you are doing.

If these things don't work, then bringing an in person trainer in would be your next step.
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