Max is three years old. He is gentle and affectionate, but becoming increasingly confused and nervous. The photo on the right shows hiim yawning because the camera was pointed at him – typical signs of uneasiness are yawning and lip-licking.
His companion dog died in August and things have gone downhill for him since. His lady owner is lavishing far too much physical affection on him which she is the first to admit is mostly for her own benefit whilst giving him no boundaries at all. She jumps to his bidding, even in the middle of the night. In the past he had the other dog, who was by nature a lot more confident, to share this burden.
He is shouted at for licking them whilst being encouraged to jump onto them. He is more or less force-fed from human plates whilst refusing to eat his own food – though he is partial to doughnuts. He only has to bark at the box, and he is given one. He is becoming increasingly scared out on walks, running back to the car at the slightest sudden noise. In fact he is reluctant to leave the house even to go into the garden to toilet, and he makes himself last nearly twenty four hours some days.
When I was there the slightest trigger sent him either into the corner or in front of the lady, shaking. She understandably then fussed and comforted him which will be reinforcing his fear (‘come to mummy she will protect you from the big bad wolf’!). She would do a lot better to ocntrol the source of his fear, if possible. However, she feels powerless to protect him from real threats, like visitors who shout and knee him for jumping up or who threaten to force him to go out and ‘behave’ when he is scared.
I know the lady is on board with my advice. I sincerely hope she has influence over her visiting family and friends – at least to the extent of leaving Max in another room where he would be perfectly happy – and insist he is left alone.