Worry builds up in the 11-month-old Cockerpoo until he can’t cope. He can be an anxious little dog.

Branston is also happy, energetic and friendly when he has nothing to worry about.

The usual things make him anxious: being left alone, someone knocking at the door and certain other dogs. He has had run-ins with a couple of dogs – both black. He’s now reactive to black dogs. How reactive depends upon how stressed he already is generally.

He is very worried if someone comes into the house unless he knows them. He barks.

Stress builds up

Stress builds up before walks and before they take him to the young man’s dad’s house any day he may otherwise be left alone. He’s very anxious, barking, when the dad picks him up, but fine when back at his house.

The gist of the whole meeting was to look for every way possible to reduce Branston’s anxiety levels. We know that the ‘fight or flight’ chemicals that flood his brain linger. More may then be added. This carries on until he can no longer cope.

Working on making Branston less anxious

They never have to leave him alone which gives them the ideal opportunity to work on separation problems. Slowly, gradually and frequently.

They have had very few people coming into their house, so a plumber the other day sent Branston into a barking frenzy. He panics when he hears the door knocker. They will now change their knocker to a bell to give them a fresh start with someone coming to the door, conditioning him to positively like the sound of the doorbell.

Now they will invite friends round more frequently so they, to, become associated with good things.

Because when dad picks him up he gets so anxious and barky when he sees him at the door, I suggest they now take him out to dad’s car and put him in themselves.

We examined Branston’s life, looking for ways to reduce the build-up of anxiety.

In a more relaxed state generally he should be able to cope better with other dogs. Off lead he’s mostly fine – unless they are black. On lead he may bark. They now know what to do.

ONE WEEK LATER: “The meeting with Theo was fantastic. She is so knowledgeable, and totally solution focused. We’ve been equipped with brilliant tools and exercises to help us overcome our challenges with Branston, and we feel confident about our next steps.” 

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