lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-07-2010, 03:46 AM Thread Starter
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lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

The last few nights Tessa has been lagging behind a bit. Usually if she isn't right in position its trying to be a little ahead of me. It was awkward as one of the evenings we were in walmart and I had to lean and depend on her quite a lot. I use the command "walk up" if she starts to lag back (I train horses and its the command I use with them for the same thing.)

I was wondering what the cause of this was. I thought maybe our extreme cold is zapping her energy? Maybe the cold with ice and salt on the ground is bothering her paws? Any ideas or suggestions? When this has happened it was rather late evening at the end of the day.


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

Last night Tessa was really lagging again. I don't use my crutch with her since she helps me enough usually and I don't want to be trying to juggle things (even though I use a hands free service dog leash.) But this is really becoming a problem, because when she lags back that way it makes my leaning onto the handle push the handle forward and theres no support, where when the handle is leaning slightly back the weight gets distributed across her shoulders. I nearly fell in walmart when my knee went out and I felt the give under Tessas harness, I had to grab onto a shelf on the other side.

I hoping it may just be because she really needs some play time. Due to the extreme cold I haven't been working, I teach riding lessons and they have been canceled so Tessa hasn't gotten to play around the barn. My bf and I were going to take the dogs to the park today but I didn't have the energy, we will probably try tomorrow. Tessa loves playing in the snow so hopefully that will help things.


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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 10:35 PM
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

How old is she?

Are you certain that she's orthopedically up to the job? (Have you had her hips/elbows/knees xrayed somewhat recently?)
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

Shes 5 1/2. Its been a while since her xrays. She doesn't lag at all off work, so I'm more inclined to think its something specifically related to work. I have a small privacy fenced yard that she and my other dog play in, as well as chasing and wrestling through the house lol.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2010, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

Maybe the harness is bugging her? But she does run around just fine with it on, I've released her in the yard when we've gotten home and waited until we were both inside to take off the harness and bags.


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 05:16 AM Thread Starter
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

I'm thinking maybe it is the harness. Someone just sent me a patrol harness for use with her sometimes instead of the heavy duty leather with rigid handle harness, but right now with the cold and the weather I really need to be using her so I need her in that harness. Its probably me using her more thats making her harness shy... Any suggestions? All I've read in the past was when a dog gets harness shy is trying another harness, but financially thats not an option.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

Here is a photo looking down on my harness and bags

I make pet beds and things from memory foam. I was thinking, maybe if I cut a piece of memory foam to go under the handle it might help absorb shock and distribute pressure better? The lining of the harness is real sheepskin, I had the faux sheepskin it came with removed and replaced with the real stuff when I bought it.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 06:27 AM
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

I have read this thread several times left it then came back. I can't think of any suggestions.

Do you think it is possible that she has a tender spot in the area under where the handle is. That maybe only when you bear down somewhat that it pinches, pokes, whatever? Maybe she pulled a small muscle in her shoulder area. Cold weather, muscle not warmed up, slight mistep on her part, slight pull. So the only time that it bothers her is when you use the handle. Maybe she is lagging behind because she is uncomfortable with any pressure and so is trying to escape that and not because she doesn't want to work properly for you.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 06:39 AM Thread Starter
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

I've been wondering if its a pulled muscle. My boyfriend was watching me re-read what I'd written before and write my recent replies and then reminded me of when Tessa was carrying my grocery bags recently. I had them tied, even weight on each side. But Tessa shook kind of hard and the bag on one side flipped over, so both bags were pulling on the same side for a moment. So he said maybe she pulled or injured something that time, and its hurting her when I'm leaning on her. Maybe I should give her some time off? The temps are getting a bit better out, so at least the ice is melting.


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-17-2010, 04:24 AM
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Re: lagging behind? Mushers secret, booties?

In reading your posts, it sound to me like avoidance behavior. There's something she doesn't like and she's lagging in order to avoid it. It could certainly be physical and maybe even likely to be physical, so giving her a bit of time off (coupled with maybe some good massages and adding additional padding to the harness) may be enough.

I would probably give her some time off but at the same time do some fun practice where she gets a lot of reward when she's in "proper" position (without the harness). If you can manage to do this with her by using your crutch so you don't have to depend on leaning on her, and fill your pocket with treats so you can quickly and easily reward her, it will probably help her get past whatever she's got bothering her.

I've found that when I'm going out more and Khana is having to work in public more frequently, and I'm primarily using verbal praise and no other reward, she will get a bit reluctant at times. Of course, she's a chow and chows are NOT like German shepherds (my shepherds have always enjoyed verbal praise more than my chows have). But even a GSD can lose some of their training when the reinforcement lags. So some training sessions - VERY positive and rewarding - may help get her more enthused and less laggy.

Hopefully between giving her a break from the harness, adding additional padding, and doing some +R with her, she'll get past this with little problem. I rarely use Khana as a balance dog, but I would think that frequent balancing could result in some strain to the shoulder area. The withers (where the shoulder blades come together) can be a sensitive area on some dogs. So what you might do is provide extra padding on either side of the withers (central area) and that may help take pressure off of the top of the shoulderblades. With horses, we sometimes use a "cutback" saddle pad that has a cut-out section right over the withers. That way the saddle is supported by the other areas but there's not much pressure against the withers. That really helps horses who have withers that stick up too much and are susceptible to injury.

Good luck, hope you get this worked through quickly!

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