What a cutie! Basil is only seven months old and life isn’t always easy for him. Mainly, he’s scared of people coming too near to him or into the house and he barks like mad. First time dog owners, they have taken advice from a so-called trainer/behaviourist who advocated things like teaching him impulse control by having him on lead, putting his food down and as soon as he goes for it to jerk him back and shout Leave It. How cruel and pointless is that! Fortunately his caring owners, who only want to do the best for him, didn’t follow these instructions.
Other advice, this time from the breeder, has included using a pet-corrector when he barks both at home and on walks where he barks at people (this is punishing fear rather than getting to the root of the problem and dealing with that!). A trainer advocated forcibly controlling him on walks with a Gentle Leader not used ‘gently’. Poor Basil started to run away when the lead was brought out – and no wonder. Thankfully they also abandoned this a week ago and already Basil is happier before walks. They now need to go back to the beginning and teach him to walk comfortably on a loose lead, and then work on his apprehension of approaching people.
One very good thing in Basil’s life is he goes to a good doggy daycare once a week where he mixes with plenty of dogs and they are grouped according to size and temperament, so they don’t need to worry about his socialising with other dogs whilst they work on his lead walking.
There is another challenge for them all. They have an autistic ten-year-old whose actions must baffle Basil. She is noisy and ‘sudden’ – her actions can be random. Basil barks at her also. He needs helping out.
Let’s look at it from the perspective of a small dog. Large unpredictable humans approaching and looming, maybe shouting or moving suddenly, would scare any dog. We worked on his barking at myself and he calmed down surprisingly quickly. They could see by the way I moved slowly, didn’t go up to him, looked away and talked calmly whilst they also quietly followed certain procedures, that Basil quite soon was happy around me and taking treats. I am sure that, dealt with right and with the pressure taken off him, with the humans around him now helping him out through understanding not force, gadgets, commands or punishment, he will become more trusting and less fearful.