My dog always walked at my side or a little in front of me, both positions allow me to see her clear and predict if she is sensing a dog nearby. She used to be slightly to moderately reactive. But after she was attacked by a large pitbull, she became super reactive, even to small dogs. So I like to have her in my sights so I can read her body language, etc.

She also acts like she hates her harness. I currently use a harness which is worn behind her front legs and another piece which attaches at about a little before her middle. The harness ring is located at the bottom of her neck and attaches to the ring of her Martingale collar and the combo is clipped together for more humane control. But I guess for the last 6 weeks to 2 months, she runs away when I try to put it on. If I tell her to come, she begrudgingly does so but with a sad look on her face.

Out on a walk, she seems to fight me to sniff everything plus look around for dogs. She continually tries to stay about 1 and a half to 2 feet behind me unless I tighten up the leash.

I cannot figure out what is really bugging her or how to help her.. . Please advise

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  • How soon after the attack is it now? Sometimes dogs do that when they don't want to walk for physical reasons (e.g., not feeling well, a muscle was pulled, etc.).
    – z13
    Mar 13, 2019 at 8:47
  • The attack occurred in November of 2017. Her behavior of straining to walk behind me and/or stopping at every place to look for food could be because 1. I put her on a 900 calorie diet a. couple of months ago per the vet's orders as she was supposed to lose 6 to 7 lbs. She has lost 2.3 pounds so far, but is continuously ravaging for food on the sidewalk or in the gutter or street and it has become a major problem. Apr 2, 2019 at 15:13

1 Answer 1


As long as the harness doesn't cause her pain, she has no reason to hate it. What she actually hates is going for a walk because she is anxious, had bad experiences and doesn't get the same satisfaction from walking as other dogs would get.

I suggest giving her more praise, treats and positive reinforcement during walks to associate walking with positive experiences. "Treats" could be either little morsels of food, or a few seconds of play, depending on what your dog reacts most positively to.

  • As soon as you finished putting on the harness, give her a treat (no matter how reluctant she was putting it on).
  • During your walk, do very easy and short obedience trainings with her. In a calm moment, call her to you, tell her to sit or lie down, then praise her, give her a treat and continue on your walk.
  • When you return home, you can give her a treat as well. But if you do so, you should always treat her, no matter how well behaved (or not) she was during the walk. Dogs don't have the mental capacity to connect their behavior minutes ago with the result of getting (or not getting) a treat at your front door.

That she suddenly walks behind you isn't a problem in itself. If you want to change that, though, you can do it with positive reinforcement as well. Just call her to your side while walking and give her a treat if she walks in the right spot.

By the way...

The ears are important indicators for the mood of a dog. If the bandana you put on her is purely for fashion, you should remove it or at least put it around her neck instead.

If it's supposed to calm her by muffling sounds, I'm afraid it doesn't work anyway. It might irritate her even more or increase her anxiety by narrowing her field of vision.

  • Oh, that is a very old picture of her at about 2 or 3 years of age. Apr 21, 2019 at 2:03
  • Since my income is derived solely from SSDI at this time, I would probably need some charitable assistance to help with the cost of alternative medicine and/or the lifetime cost of her medication. Are there any such resources out there? We live in Alameda County. Apr 21, 2019 at 2:12
  • I guess the first part was not posted. My dog is now 8 and has been diagnosed with bilateral degenerative joint disease in her rear knee joints. I just want to find out about resources that could help her: alternative medicine, hydrotherapy, etc. She is my ESA and has been for more than 7 and a half years. I don't want to lose her as she has been the only creature who has helped me to survive and has survived with me through severe domestic violence, homelessness and prejudice against her breed: 63 lbs. of pit bull mix, but I also understand the seriousness of the diagnosis Apr 21, 2019 at 2:20
  • @KimberlyOlwin-Zhao Please post new questions as bew post. This is not a general discussion forum, where you can revive an old thread, but a Q&A site, where each post should contain only one question (as explained in the tour). I only read your comments because I was notified about them. Other users won't even notice if you post on an old question and the chance of getting answers is extremely slim.
    – Elmy
    Apr 21, 2019 at 5:45
  • I have 2 Jack Russells (sisters) who are 10. I lead them, rather the other way around. A lot of it is age. I walk faster them. Also, they stop a lot. Your problem is partially caused by age. I would also let your dog try several harnesses at the store to she likes a different one. Apr 17, 2020 at 14:24

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