The 5 month old Romanian rescue puppy, Annie, is beginning her new life with the young couple. She has been with them for five days now.

She first acclimatised to their garden but was wary of the house. She now is getting used to indoors and even runs up and down the stairs.

So far she is quiet and gentle and maybe she won’t ever nip or do Zoomies! Perhaps she’s still uncertain and being careful. She sleeps through the night and is, so far, a little angel!

Hurdles to overcome

There are a number of hurdles that as new dog-owners they won’t have foreseen. Challenges in particular for a puppy that has never lived in a house.

The rescue very wisely advised them not to take Annie out of the house and garden for one week. Unless our ‘beginning at the beginning’ confidence-building strategies work very quickly, it could be longer.

Moving ahead should be gradual.

They need to separate each thing and then break each one down into little increments. Then start right at the beginning.

Beginning at the beginning

The most immediate challenge is Annie’s fear of a collar, harness and lead.

They will deal with one at a time, starting with the collar.

Beginning at the beginning means finding the starting point to work from. This will be wherever Annie is aware of the collar but not afraid.

I suggest one of them starts by sitting on the floor with the collar beside them, not touching it. Annie can sniff it and find food on or under it. Do this until she is comfortable before moving to the next step.

Next they can gently touch the collar but not pick it up all the time feeding Annie. Soon they may lift it slightly, feeding all the time.

Next put the collar on their lap, hands off – still feeding Annie. And so on until they can just place the open collar briefly over Annie’s back before removing it again.

The outside world

She is also very likely to be scared of traffic. People and other dogs? Who knows.

Again, just as they did with the collar, with acclimatising to traffic they should start at the beginning.

She will be on a long and loose lead in the doorway which is well back from the road. This obviously means the collar and lead situation must first be sorted.

Cars pass the end of their drive from time to time.

So how do they start at the beginning? With Annie free to run back indoors if she’s scared, they can make each passing car trigger special food.

Bit by bit they can work their way nearer the road, dictated only by Annie’s confidence level.

Eventually this will lead to walking down the road and towards a busier street.

And so on.

She was okay in the car when they fetched her. When she’s able to wear a collar and harness they can take her to somewhere away from traffic, a quiet park perhaps.

They will make a list of things Annie is wary of in her new life as they discover them. Using the ‘begin at the beginning’ method is bound to increase her overall confidence and trust in them.

Each thing needs to be dissected. Like climbing a ladder with close-together steps, they then will start at the beginning – at the bottom.

One week later: “We found meeting with you very helpful and it put our mind at ease.

Annie’s opening up to us more & more every day.  She is coming out of her shell bit by bit, gets all excited when she sees us, she started running to us when we call her rather than her cautious walk. ….. 3 nights ago she got very unhappy in her crate at bedtime, we didn’t want her to stress so she ended up sleeping with us in a bed…

The past couple of nights she was starting off bedtime in bed, then she woke up around 1am for a wee. After coming back to the room, she walked into her crate without any hints from us. We didn’t close the door after and she happily stayed there till the morning.

We’re collar training – we think it might be a while before she warms up to it fully. “

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