The Patterdale Jack Russel mix seems withdrawnThere was something sad about Janie. She seems over the past few months to have lost her joy in life, and she is only sixteen months old. She is not playful any more, and out on walks she pulls ahead and worries about other dogs being too near.

She has a beautiful home and the family love her dearly. One would normally expect terriers like Patterdales and Jack Russells to be bouncy and full of energy and fun, but all the time I was there Janie lay behind the lady on the back of the sofa, quiet and watchful.

At the end I wanted to demonstrate my favourite harness so I lowered myself to the floor. Her owner gently fetched her and put her down in front of me. She lifted her front paw which is a sure sign of uneasiness so I stopped immediately. Her little tail went between her legs. She was scared.

Fearfulness is one of the things that can happen when a dog is adored and spoilt, and given the notion that she is the most important member of the family, with all her wishes obeyed from the moment she arrives as a puppy. The member of any group who is obeyed is going to be the leader. It can give the dog a huge burden of responsibility and this can be very scary. There is no way a little dog can fulfill the functions of a leader which are to protect, provide and lead when out. It’s almost like Janie has shut down.

Being loved and constantly cuddled and touched may be nice – for the humans anyway, but too much can be like homage, and she will see you as a servant rather than a leader. Having leadership is much more important to her mental wellbeing than having adoring slaves.

Bit by bit the family will be showing her that she can trust them to make the important decisions and to protect her, by behaving a bit more like leaders, and by allowing her to be a bit more independent.

It is now one month since my visit and I have just received this email: “Yes all well and going really well with Jazz. We were out on saturday at a big park with friends and lots of other dogs around, and she just ignored them all, she was off lead as her recall is great and if she didnt for some reason come back straight away I put her back on the lead for a while. So far in the last week she has not wanted to attack any other dogs so we feel like we are getting there.We are praising her she does see another dog and just calling her to us so she stays close, and we are not allowing her any balls as this seems to be the trigger of her getting over excited and hyper”. There is still a long way to go, but they are sticking consistently to their plan and already re4aping great results.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.