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Getting Snoopy Outside
Our rat terrier, Snoopy, is an anxious aggressive dog. He is afraid of thunder, fireworks and other loud noises. Whenever there is a storm or fireworks he hides behind our waterbed. How to get him outside for his last walk of the night when something like this is going on (or he thinks it might happen) has been a learning experience for both of us.
At first I dragged him out. I would loop the leash over his head while he growled and bared his teeth. It was frightening for both of us - he thought he was going to be killed, either by me or by the terrible noises and I thought I was going to lose a hand or have my face ripped off.
Snoopy loves two things: food and going for a ride in the car. He is the most food-motivated dog we have ever had. He learned very early what, “It’s time to eat!” means. When I call Mike for dinner, Snoopy rushes to wherever Mike is and whines and cries until Mike comes for dinner. Needless to say, Mike gives him tidbits from dinner.
When we first got him, Snoopy was afraid of riding in the car, too. Then he discovered that sometimes the car took him to places to get food, like McDonalds and Dairy Queen. One of his other favorite phrases is, “Snoopy, want to go for a ride?” It’s to the point I have to spell ride if I don’t want to take him.
One night I had to go out late because I needed something from the grocery store for breakfast. It was the middle of a thunderstorm and Snoopy was in his usual place behind the bed. I was being silly when I asked if he wanted to go for a ride. He was out of there and down the stairs to the front door like lightening. He even let me take him for his walk when we got back.
Since then, I can usually get him to go out during a thunderstorm if I offer to take him for a ride. Naturally, I have to actually give him a ride. He’s smart enough to realize that if he doesn’t get the ride he shouldn’t come out.
I got tired of having to take him for a ride. Knowing he was also a sucker for food, I came up with a new strategy.
I broke a bunch of his treats up into small pieces and grabbed the leash and collar. When I knelt down by the side of the bed he growled very convincingly. I handed him a treat. He ate it – that’s when I knew it would work; he wasn’t too scared to eat. I put the next treat on the floor right under his nose. The next one was just far enough that he had to stretch his neck. Then I put one where he’d have to uncurl and move forward. He did it, and he kept doing it until I got him far enough out to get the collar on. He grumbled, but then he just followed me out without a problem. This will work until he gets too fat to get out from behind the bed.
Neither of these ploys works every time. I am still searching for gentle ways to coax him out, but at least I have a couple that work more often than not.