What a joy to meet these three dogs.
Ten-week-old Jack Russell Ozzy was asleep in his crate. Milo, 7 – a Patterdale Border Terrier mix – greeted me politely at the door.
Labrador Scooby was in the open kitchen doorway, tail wagging in a friendly fashion.
An invisible barrier?
Why wouldn’t he come out to greet me? One might think there was an invisible gate or electric fence, but no.
Outside the kitchen was the shiny floor leading to the front door and the sitting room. He won’t step on it.
Scooby is scared of shiny floors of all kinds.
To get him down the passage with its shiny floor to the sitting room, he sits on a sheet and pull him!
They don’t know all Scooby’s past history, but he has been like this for the while they have had him. Now six, he had two previous homes. Possibly in the past he has injured himself on a shiny floor. Apparently when younger he had hip problems – the vet says he’s okay now.
It’s not just the shiny floor in their own hallway. Scooby’s phobia of a shiny floor restricts what they can do. They have to carry the big dog through the vet waiting room and put him on the table. They like to take their well-behaved dogs out with them, but cafes and pubs may have a shiny floors.
So, the friendly dog is by himself in the kitchen much of the time.
How are we going to get him over his shiny floor phobia?
Like most Labradors, Scooby is very food-motivated.
They will begin with getting a new, rubber-backed runner (it’s strange how when one is living in a situation we don’t see obvious solutions). They will put this down in the passage for a few days so that he becomes accustomed to being able to walk freely from kitchen to sitting room with the other dogs.
Then then will make a small gap between the kitchen and the new mat and work with him. When they stop working, they will close the gap again.
At a distance where he has to reach forward but not so great he has to move his feet, they will wipe peanut butter on the floor. He will have to stretch his neck a bit to lick it up.
Bit by bit, over several days, they will slowly increase the gap between kitchen and new mat. The peanut butter will be just a bit too far to reach without one of his front feet going on the shiny floor.
They should go no further for a while until he looks very comfortable with this.
Bit by bit, an inch at a time
Bit by bit, they will put the peanut butter on the shiny floor, inching a bit further away from the kitchen doorway, increasing the gap between rug and kitchen.
All the time they will close the gap when not working on it. They must at all costs avoid going too far so Scooby gives up and goes back into the kitchen.
While they are working on his phobia and even when he has got over it, they should leave the new rug in place. Just in case. If Scooby slips or slides and suffers any hip pain, that could be disastrous.