Is your dog worried by a certain type of flooring, or a certain area of your home/environment?
There can be many different reasons for a fear to develop, including:
So how can you help your dog?
- a prior negative experience, such as an accidental slip or slide
- reduction in physical ability, meaning an animal can be more cautious on different surfaces, or surfaces with less grip
- long hair can cover the feet pads, adding extra potential to slip or loose grip
- long nails can impact the way a dog's paws hit the ground, reducing their ability to walk with confidence
- the space may have other potential negative connotations for the dog, such as being a tight space, or an unrelated fearful event took place there
- First up, check that nails & hair aren't impacting your dog's ability to move freely.
- If that is all clear, is there another physical reason your dog may be feeling insecure on a certain surface? Pain in dogs is not always clearly obvious, so a check up with your dog's vet can help to determine if something underlying is contributing. If so, often treating the underlying medical reason will resolve the behaviour.
- In the meantime you can also add surfaces with more grip to the area: carpeted mats & runners, with anti-slip grip underneath, can help a dog feel more safe & confident moving in that space.
- Grip/anti-slip socks can also be really useful to help with confidence in areas that can't be modified, or the dog's physical condition cannot be improved.
- If physcial causes have been resolved &/or ruled out, it's possible your dog has associated the area with stress as a result of a prior experience. Experiences don't always have to be obviously traumatic for a dog to become more cautious in that area. Experience is in the body of the individual, so we look to the dog's body language & behaviour to determine the presence or absence of stress.
To help a dog become more comfortable in a certain area, you can:
- ensure they have choice as to whether they enter the area or not (see this nice little article on choice: https://www.ppgaustralia.net.au/Choice) - provide alternate routes &/or surfaces
- choose a game they really enjoy. First of all play this well away from the area. Then occasionally play it closer to the space. Plus lots of time away from the space. Then, whilst you're playing near the space 'accidently' toss the toy or food just into the area. The dog then chooses whether or not to retrieve it. Absolutly their choice. If they don't want to get it, you get it & keep playing the game, not throwing it back there. If they were brave enough to retrieve it, great, they've just had a nice experience in that space. Continue the program. Be sure not to over-do the play-in-space. It should be gradual, natural, fun, and they always choose.
Of course all this advice is very general in nature, and it's best to liaise with your veterinarian &/or local PPG trainer for a plan tailored to your dog and environment.
Written by Jacqui Tourle - The Dog Project.