AndersonMontyBorder Terrier, Monty, has a range of issues that his lovely owners want to resolve. Actually, they all stem from just one thing, over-arousal. He is a clever and perky little dog, amenable and friendly (due to the angle, he looks a lot bigger in this photo than he is).

The day starts as it ends, with two-year-old Monty being let outside into the large garden. He charges out of the door like a ball shot from a cannon and rushes around barking “I’m here! I’m here!” and doing multiple boundary runs.

The next thing in his day is his walk. With his pulling and being on the lookout for other dogs to lunge and bark at, he comes home more wound up than when he left and instead of having a drink and flopping down, satisfied, he is in a highly charged state needing to unwind somehow.

Although the lady stays at home, other family members go to work or school, and Monty watches them go down the path from the window, barking in some sort of panic. He will spend the days whining for something or in the garden (barking at people going past and the neighbour’s equally noisy dog).

When someone comes to the door, because of the layout of the house, a barking Monty is there also, being held back by his collar and so aroused that when released he not only jumps up but also grabs their clothes with his teeth. This is in no way aggressive, more that he just can’t control himself. He will then probably fetch a toy – something better for his mouth to be doing.

Although extremely well socialised with other dogs, all this is now spilling over onto reactivity with other dogs on walks.

In order to make any progress at all, the start must be management – making it impossible for Monty to rehearse these downward-spiraling behaviours any longer. For now he can be let out in the garden only on the end of a long line while the response to his barking which we discussed is implemented immediately he starts and he is brought back indoors. People commonly think that it’s fun for their dog to watch people going past, gives him something to do and that preventing free access to these places is unkind. I believe the opposite. Monty’s view from the window of departing family members down the path should be blocked and somehow there must be a way to shut him away from the front door before it is opened.

He needs help with a lot of things or else kept away from them – including vacuum cleaner, brooms, wheelie bins and the lady’s daily clean-out of the guinea pigs, something that makes him very anxious indeed.

From a ground base of a dog with much lower levels of arousal, this clever little dog can start learning that being quiet is rewarding and that he gets more attention and reinforcement for being calm than when barking! They can instigate all sorts of games, training and activities that will focus his brain and help him to calm. A more relaxed dog should find his walks more satisfying and encountering other dogs less stressful.

It’s so hard for his people who love their dog dearly and do all they can for him not also to become very stressed themselves when he’s in a permanent state of arousal – apart from late evening and night-time when at last he’s at peace for a few hours.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Monty. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).