Consider Jasmine’s early life. She was found as a young puppy along with one sibling beside a road. From there she will have ended up in an open shelter for about six months, having to hold her own with lots of other dogs.
No wonder her priority is to feel safe. Self-preservation will be engrained in her.
Their aim is for Jasmine to be less scared of people in particular. To feel safe.
The Saluki mix is now about one year old and has lived with the couple for five months. In that time they have come a long way. It took a few weeks for her to be at ease with them
She was doing very well until they had to leave her kennels recently for a couple of weeks. Now she has regressed. She is anxious if one of them goes out of her sight. If they are in different rooms, she runs from one to the other.
There is no way of explaining to her of course that they will never leave her.
Strangely, when they both go out she will feel sufficiently secure to work on a Kong or Snufflemat and then settle (they have a camera).
Jasmine gets on well with other dogs, but still the only people she is comfortable with are the young lady and gentleman.
With other people she barks, even people she has met several times before. She’s very tentative. A sudden approach has pushed her into nipping.
The gentleman’s mother may stay overnight to look after her if they are away; she visits quite regularly. Each time she comes it’s like she’s a new person.
Now when friends or family come she will have a bolthole upstairs so she can feel safe.
People coming into the house – starting at the beginning.
There are ways of making this easier for her. It starts when someone knocks on the door – Jasmine barks. Then she will hide behind them when they open the door. The door knocker heralds fear.
I suggest they start again with a gentle-sounding doorbell which is altogether less alarming. They can, with multiple rings with a second bell push and paired with food, get her to positively welcome the sound.
When someone then comes to the door for real, she’s not immediately starting from a position of fear.
They can add training her to go into a nearby room. She will then join the person when they are already sitting down. It’s often a lot easier for the dog to walk in on them rather than visa versa.
To go for walks at all she has one of two fears to face. She is very scared of traffic, big vehicles in particular. She is also scared and shakes in the car – but not as frightened as she is with traffic.
They will play ‘vehicle-watching’ from their front door or a distance she feels safe, using food. Meanwhile they will go by car to somewhere near and open where she runs happily off lead.
The build up of stress and fear
All the time things are happening during the day – someone may call to the house, there may be a passing bus – her stress and anxiety levels will accumulate. Trigger stacking.
To keep her on as even a keel as possible will help her to feel safe and build confidence.
Since her kennel trip a couple of weeks ago she has been barking for them in the night. For now, her feelings of security being the aim, they will leave the doors open. She can sleep in their bedroom where she will feel safe. If necessary they can wean her away from this later.
When faced with a choice, they will now ask themselves ‘what will cause least stress and panic’ to Jasmine.
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