Luna on the left, age six months, has been them for just one-and-a-half weeks. She came from a pound where she had still been with her littermates.

As well as not being used to living in a house, she’s not used to traffic either.

She hid in the crate for the first few hours. When she ventured out she quickly made friends with the man and the lady. For a dog that has never lived in a house, Luna is adjusting amazingly well indoors.

This may be partly due to their other Romanian rescue, 9-year-old Suki who has been very quiet and easy from the start. They reckon that, as a street dog, she had learned to keep her head down or hide.

Adjusting to what seems an unsafe world outside the house

It’s outside the house that Luna feels unsafe.

In the garden, particularly after dark, she barks at the slightest sound. They sometimes let her carry on barking at the neighbours until they go in, which is a mistake. She is rehearsing barking at people to get them to go away – and it’s working.

Barking like this also hugely raises her stress levels.

For now they will take her out on a long lead. As soon as she barks they will tell her OKAY and bring her in – she probably will be too aroused to eat. They may be able to catch it before she starts – as soon as her ears prick up or by her stance. Capture that using food if possible – or maybe a game she likes.

Traffic watching

Soon after she arrived, because she was so scared they carried her out the front to the pavement. She was terrified. They realise now that they need to take things a lot more slowly. She doesn’t feel safe outside and forcing her will betray their carefully won trust.

Adjusting her to passing people, dogs and traffic can be done from the front door, using a long line so she can run back into the house when she needs to.

Set-up for visiting people

Again, keen to make progress, they pushed ahead by inviting a friend over too soon and without adequate preparation. The longer the friend stayed, the more intense Luna’s barking became.

Using their neighbour so they can do short frequent sessions, they will now stage things.

First they will get her to associate a doorbell sound – which currently is a new sound to her – with food. Then, when someone is at the door they will start off on a positive note rather than panic.

Adjusting to a person in her new home

They will have Luna out of the room where the guest will be invited to sit down – and to give no eye contact to Luna. They may lace the floor around her with food.

Now they will bring Luna in on lead.

The person will be less threatening being brought in, as the person is neither approaching nor looming. Luna will doubtless still bark – she already has probably learnt that barking will eventually make a person go away.

Instead of sending the person away, they will gently take Luna herself out of the room – no fuss – and wait till she is calm. Then they will bring her back into the room with the neighbour; they will immediately drop favourite food.

The good things happen only in the presence of the visitor.

Little and often.

The process can be repeated several times. If or when Luna becomes more aroused rather than improving, it’s a sign that the session has gone on for too long. Call it a day.

They will keep pushing gently forward, taking care not to take her over her comfort threshold.

Five weeks later: “Hi Theo, just wanted to give you a little update. We had a friend stop by yesterday, the first one since we spoke to you … and not a single bark! I had Luna out in the garden whilst our friend was brought in and settled. Then Luna had free roam to investigate or escape as she needed, and I’d also take her back to the garden for a safety timeout. Plus sooo many treats when she was inside. It wasn’t long at all until she was comfy enough to grab a yakmilk from 1-2m away from our friend!”

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help