Some dogs have difficulties with linoleum ranging from a mild dislike to an outright phobia. There are many ways to improve these issues, ranging from dragging the dog briskly onto the surface through putting treats all over the floor. Our process requires some time and patience, but in our experience it is most effective at correcting the underlying issue than most other techniques.
Most dogs that are uncomfortable with linoleum lack confidence in their balance, footing, and proprioception. So we focus on building that confidence and on socializing the dog to slick surfaces:
1. Work on his balance and proprioception on a variety of non-slippery surfaces. Wobble boards, creek beds, exercise balls, irregular stairs, waves at the beach. Anything you can find that will improve his physical abilities and his confidence. Particularly do these things with other confident dogs so he can model his behavior on them.
2. Teach him to run up and down slides at playgrounds. Make this super fun. While there, play with him on the merry-go-round…
3. Teach him to ride on wheeled carts—shopping cart, flat cart at Home Depot, skateboard, etc. Get him used to the feeling of having the floor moving underneath.
4. Get some linoleum tiles and put them singly in places he likes to be. Comfortable places where he is confident. Play with him in those areas and ignore the tiles, but subtly try to have him walk on them periodically. Put one under his dinner dish. Move them around periodically. Let him play with other dogs in the area so they can run around ignoring the tiles. Then start adding tiles at first unattached, then in lines and squares. Make lines of tiles in hallways, in his favorite places, around his dinner dish, etc. All the while treat the tiles as unimportant. By the end of the year your house should be tiled and your dog cured…
5. Place a tile on the floor and sit in a chair next to it and teach him a game of putting his feet on the tile. Entirely positive, upbeat, fun, no pressure. Whenever he goes towards the tile throw the treat behind him so that he is rewarded by getting a treat and by going away from the tile. Work on this over time until he is happily putting both front feet on the tile. Now start moving the tile—toss it away and have him run and put his feet on it and reward. Drag it around and have him chase it to put his feet on it. Make this a blast. Work on this all over so he is totally confident about the behavior and really likes doing it. Now, take the tile and go somewhere with a slick floor and put the tile at the near edge and play the same game. Next day, same thing, but have him go a little further onto the slick floor before getting to his tile. Don’t get stressed and keep it fun.
6. Teach him to go to and get onto a dog bed. Do this all over, and then take the dog bed to a slick floor and send him across a few feet of floor to the bed. Increase the distance gradually. This is similar to the above technique, but gives him a clear visible safety spot to go to as well as a clear behavior to focus on.
7. If your dog tugs well, eventually try to play tug with him on slick surfaces. This likely will come after the other techniques. Make a game out of sliding him around so he learns it is not scary. Swing him around, push on him, do bitework, chase a laser pointer, chase you, whatever will get him into drive and keep him there. Many dogs are much better at overcoming their fears when they are in drive, and after some experience having fun on slick surfaces he is likely to overcome the issue even when not in drive. Tugging and bitework are particularly good because you can slide him around and keep him in drive and keep him from accidentally falling. Do not protect him from slickness; rather, help him learn how to handle it happily.
Obviously there are many others, but you get the idea. Help him become truly confident about his balance and his ability to control the situation and he will steadily improve…