Dog Behavior-Advice needed
We have a 4 year old male dog (coonhound &? mix) named Sawyer. Since puppyhood, we have taken Sawyer to doggie day care 2-3 times a week. He has always enjoyed it there and typically pulls on the leash to get into the lobby when we arrive in the morning.
Last week, his behavior changed. He gets out of the car just fine, but will lay down in the parking lot and refuse to go inside. Treats don't work. Prong collar doesn't work. Waiting it out doesn't work. What has worked is that one of the attendants will come out and take the leash from me. I walk towards the building, and Sawyer follows me inside, with the attendant holding the leash. When the attendant is walking behind me, Sawyer's leash is loose; no pulling or refusals at all. Once inside, he is happy to see everyone and scampers out into the play yard like his normal happy self.
This has happened 3 times now. It is not a question of him being ill, or tired.
I have asked if anything happened at the daycare that might have generated this behavior and was told, no, that Sawyer enjoys himself and plays wonderfully with the other dogs. The folks who run this place are very professional and I feel certain that they would tell me if something had happened.
Now some background. Sawyer has always been a fearful dog. We walk him 1 hour twice a day. He is obedience trained, but he is very fearful of new things, including people. This is one of the reasons we send him to daycare, to get him socialized with both new people and new dogs. The daycare frequently has new staff, but they have not noted him being particularly afraid of any new staff.
Nonetheless, I need to figure out a strategy to deal with this. My owner instincts tell me that this is some form of separation anxiety. But, he does not have separation anxiety when we leave the house without him, so I may be misreading his behavior.
I need to figure out what this behavior is and a way to eliminate it.
Anyone have any ideas?