Neurotic Sheltie - really!

We have a 9 year old Sheltie. When he was 2, I came home from work one day, fed him, and noticed that he wouldn't walk on the tile to get to his food. (He'd always been fine before). I figured he'd fallen sometime while I was at work and got scared, and now avoided tile (7 years later, he still does). We put carpet down under his bowls and that was how he got to meals.

Last night, he tried to come get his meal, but "couldn't". He has always walked the long way around, on hardwoods, to get to the kitchen so he doesn't step on the tile. Now he refused to walk on one section of our hallway. This means he won't get to the kitchen area at all unless we carry him (I love him, but that's ridiculous). My husband forced him to walk to dinner, and he got nervous, slipped, and all four paws went out from under him on the hardwoods. (It's like his brain is freaking him out).

Has anyone ever seen this? Have any ideas? Suggestions? Please!! (and thank you!)

Asked by Tory on Apr 18th 2008 Tagged slipping, falling, neurotic in Behavior & Training
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Best Answer


Forcing a dog to walk across flooring that scares him to the point of injuring himself is a surefire way of producing a neurotic dog.

Step 1: Ensure there are no physical reasons why he does not walk on the tiles. Make sure his nails are short (no clicking on the floor), trim his paw hair, and check for hip or back pain.

Step 2: If he checks out physically, then slowly and GENTLY encourage him across the surface. Don't baby him, be confident, assured, upbeat and happy. Encourage him to join you on the tile with treats or toys. Small steps at a time. Don't expect him to do it all in one session, he's had this problem for a long time so it will take a while to cure it. Short sessions, always ending on a positive note. Never resort to dragging him across the floor, getting angry or frustrated at him for his fears.

Gio answered on Apr 18th.

Other Answers



Forcing him to walk across is called "flooding". Cesar Milan does this often on his show. While it seemingly "cures" the dog of its fear - it's really not. Now that he has fallen, he is going to associate even more bad things. You want to de-sensitize him to the tile through operant conditioning to the point where he associates the tile with good things - ie food/treat/praise.

What I would suggest is purchasing a cheap carpet runner. Lay that across your kitchen floor all the way to his bowl. Coax him to walk on this runner if needed (lay treats down, whatever). After a few days fold the end of the runner near his food bowl up by a little bit, maybe a foot, so that there's a foot of tile exposed that he needs to overcome to reach his food. Over the next few weeks slowly (slowly!) fold up more and more of the runner. Eventually he will be used to walking the full length of tile. Have lots of patience - this behavior is 7 yrs ingrained, so try not to make him go too fast with this. :)

Kolbe answered on 4/18/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


My parents poodle did the same thing up until recently. She has learned to cope, if she wants to eat she'll go get it, but she still hates hardwood floors and she is 4 a few months ago my parents moved into a house where most of the 1st floor is hardwood, she doesn't like it but she learned to face her fear and she will walk on it now though she acts intimidated by it. Your dog may just really not like the feel of the floor and may find it slippery under them. Being that your dog is nine, he probably won't snap out of it so easy if he's been doing it all these years but there is nothing wrong with making things easier for him, maybe feed him in a carpeted area so he doesn't have to feel uncomfortable being that he is older

Member 570392 answered on 4/18/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Gray Dawn Treader

I say take Gio's advice. Gio is an expert on dogs; Shelties particularly.

Gray Dawn Treader answered on 4/18/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer