Blue is proving to be a serious challenge. This is Week 5 of the 8-week Beginners Obedience course, and she is still presenting extreme anxiety outside. As shown in the short clip below, she is completely disengaged from her owner; she isn’t looking to him for direction, nor is she giving him even a little bit of trust. Her only focus is on getting back inside the house.
Blue did not begin to settle and focus on her owner until she was back inside the house. This anxiety and insecurity is deeply concerning. This dog is approaching 6 months of age, and she’s still so afraid of outside that she literally cannot function. Her owners have been working her on her other lessons, but because of her extreme lunging and pulling, they haven’t worked her outside as often as they should be. I can understand that; she’s a very powerful dog, and she can easily yank them off their feet if she suddenly lunges and pull when they aren’t expecting it.
And herein lies the dilemma. Blue can’t learn how to cope with outside if she isn’t worked outside. But she can’t be worked outside because she lunges and pulls so hard to get back inside.
Blue is a very tough case. Her owners got her when she was 8 weeks old, and to their knowledge, she had no traumatic experiences outside before they bought her. Going by what they told me during an in-depth discussion with them after witnessing her anxiety the first time we tried to work outside, there is no obvious cause for her ongoing fear and anxiety. Rather, her reactions seemed to be a result of not being socialized properly to the outdoors. Since lessons are now held outside – and her owners tell me they’ve been trying to work her outside – I fully expected to see improvement in her ability to focus on them and not pull as much.
At this point, I feel the obedience course is not what Blue needs to help her be in and part of the world at large. Rather, because of the depth and intensity of her fear of and anxiety about outside, I feel she requires behavioural therapy. I am going to be discussing this with her owners. Because, without this kind of intervention, I don’t see her being happy or able to function in the world in general.
Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.