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rescue dog afraid of leash/walks and being picked up!

I have a an 8 month old Australian Shepherd mix named Lola that I am rescuing. She was found skinny and terrified in the streets of Puerto Rico at about 8 weeks of age.  The foster had her for almost 6 months and she will be coming to my home this weekend.  Lola hates the leash and refuses to takes walks for more than a few feet.  Also, she hates being picked up - she acts panicked and tries to get away and has even pooped when picked up. 

She is approximately 30 pounds.  I have another dog, a 13 year old very active and healthy female alpha pug, that the rescue pup loves and my pug also likes her.  My pug loves and demands her daily long brisk walks, so I need to figure out a method of getting Lola happy to walk on a leash and be picked up if neccessary.  

Grateful for any advice on addressing this behaviour.   

Community Manager

Re: rescue dog afraid of leash/walks and being picked up!

Hi blackdaizy. 



Welcome to the community and thank you for your question about Lola. I've sent this to one of Petco's animal care specialists for advice; either myself or another community moderator will check back in with an update as soon as we hear back.


In the meantime I'd love to see a photo of your two dogs!




Community Manager

Re: rescue dog afraid of leash/walks and being picked up!

Hi blackdaizy. We are so excited to congratulate you on the new addition to your family! My biggest recommendation would be to start with social confidence builders and bring lots of food/treats! Your local Petco dog trainer would love to help guide you through this process, but I have included a few notes for you below as an effort to help in the meantime. · With timid pups I try to make life a party (without all of the loud scary noises). Verbally Praise/treat the puppy for doing good everyday tasks such as making eye contact with you, looking over in your direction, walking over different color or textured surfaces, or decides to sit on her own. You can then pick up the leash and encourage her to walk over to you while you are holding the leash, treat and praise her for walking over to you without putting the leash on. Once she gets comfortable with everyday tasks, you can start working on the bigger ones like providing praise/treats for latching the leash to the collar and taking it right back off then lots more praise, you can slowly increase time on leash while sitting/standing still then slowly encourage the pup to take a few steps and provide more praise. Increase time on leash or what you are asking the dog to do on leash over a few days or weeks until she becomes more comfortable. You can cut up pieces of cooked hot dog, bacon or ground beef and drizzle remaining oil over the daily amount of dog food or mix in a bunch of treats to make the regular dog food more exciting and offer that to them throughout the day for any and all good things done instead of feeding large meals. (hotdog or treats such as cheese, bacon, dog specific treats should be no more than 10% of their diet).


 If you find anything that this new pup really enjoys, try using that as positive reinforcement, to make that behavior more likely to be repeated. Examples might include a favorite toy, playing, belly rubs etc.


It is great that the two dogs love each other! Try bringing a friend to walk your pug and see if you and the new pup can walk with them. Having another dog around that is super confident and loves walking on a leash may ease tension/stress for the new pup. Be sure to keep an eye on Lola though, if she seems uncomfortable even with positive reinforcement, you should start with much shorter trips at first and slowly build up to longer walks. o If Lola is so afraid of being picked up or anything else, I would avoid scary things in the beginning until she becomes more comfortable. Again, when working on things that make her nervous, break things down into much smaller steps and keep it fun while slowly building up to the event/object/task that makes her nervous.


My last piece of advice is to always end on a positive note. If she gets nervous, don’t force it; and if she is not comfortable enough to be bold and try something new, that is okay! If she gets nervous, remove the scary situation and try asking her to do something she is a rock star at and then praise/treat her for doing something well to help build up her confidence after it is shaken. While this will be a journey for you guys it will be so much fun to watch her grow and lead a more comfortable and confident lifestyle.

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