What do I do if my dog won't walk when I put him on a leash?

This question was submitted by LTanyaG:

My Fox Terrier knows he has to go outside to urinate and deficate, but he will not bark. He will go to the door and wait and if I don't get there in time he will do his business right there. Also he is petrified when I put the leash on him. As soon as I put it on him he sits frozen and will not budge I have to carry him or take the leash off.


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It sounds like your dog is afraid of the leash. Many dogs learn to fear it when they learn to associate it with going to the vet or something else that is frightening. The key here is going to be training the dog that the leash is not something to be scared of. You can do this with two basic efforts at training.

First, put the leash onto the dog periodically around the house. Don't try to walk it or hold onto the leash - just strap it on and let him walk around with it attached to him. If he's got a favorite toy, then try to play with him while the leash is attached. Train him to associate you putting the leash on him with running around playing and having fun. Use plenty of friendly praise while you're doing this to put him at ease. Make sure that you take it off once you're no longer supervising him - you don't want him getting it caught on anything and choking. If he freezes up once you put it on, talk to him gently and leave it on for awhile - start out with 5 or 10 minute periods and gradually make it longer. Eventually he will learn that it is normal to have a leash on while walking around the house on his own. The key is waiting him out - he will freeze for awhile, but he'll eventually realize that nothing is bad going to happen and also that you're not taking it off.

Once he no longer freezes up, you should try to teach him to accept you holding onto the leash while he's walking. For the first few times, don't try to lead the dog anywhere or put pressure on it, just hold onto the leash and follow him around. Gradually start using the leash as a means of control - nudge him towards a certain direction using slight tugs, and shorten the length if he starts going somewhere you don't want. Try to train him to walk around the house with you.

Once he's willing to do that, you are ready to start taking him on walks. Use general dog leash training tips for this. The walks will reinforce the idea that the leash is for fun. Once most dogs realize that you putting on the leash means they get to go outside and have fun on a walk, they will be clamoring to have it put on.

The second part of your question is answered here, how to make your dog bark.

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