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Cockerpoo Bobby is a soft, loving, friendly little dog.
Bobby feels insecure. Why?
Because of Bobby’s reactions to anyone approaching either his house or himself, I believe he feels insecure.
Another thing that points towards insecurity is that he has to have. preferable the lady, in sight all the time.
Strangely, it seems he only feels insecure when when he’s with his family.
It all started when their little boy was born, a couple of years ago. Bobby was one year old.
The family live in a quiet road and if he hears a car door outside, he barks like crazy. It is the same when there is a knock on the door or when post comes through the letterbox.
He is very excitable, though friendly, when someone actually comes into the house.
His other habit is, when let out into the garden, to immediately charge around for several circuits, barking.
It’s like he’s warning off any enemy that may be lurking there.
Things that make him feel insecure all have one thing in common: a person ‘approaching’. It’s when someone is approaching his home, approaching his family or himself on walks.
Whether he’s on lead or off lead, he barks at approaching people and dogs – he may lunge or jump at the person. He seems more agitated than aggressive.
The common denominator.
The common denominator is a member of his family is always present – the couple and their little boy. In different circumstances he is very friendly and loves playing with dogs.
A dog walker regularly comes for him and, walking with other dogs, he is very confident. He goes to day care once a week and it’s the same there.
The other strange thing is that although he panics if the lady in particular is out of sight at home, he happily goes off with the walker or the day care person.
They will now use management to cut down as much of the barking as they can, and then work on how Bobby is feeling so he doesn’t feel so insecure.
Management will include an outside letterbox. It also means only taking Bobby out into the garden on lead and waiting for him to calm down before letting him off.
They can desensitise him to the door knocker.
They will do all they can to lower his general arousal levels and build his confidence – necessary also for the gradual work they will be doing to get him happy being all alone sometimes.
This will need to start with a pen. At present it’s a bit worrying that he can’t escape from the little boy who he sometimes growls at when cornered. Also, with a pen, their timid cat can escape from Bobby.
With all good things happening in the pen, Bobby can first get used to be physically away from the lady whilst being in the same room. This is a good place to start with the separation work so that he doesn’t feel insecure.
People approaching when on walks
On walks with Bobby they will no longer advance head-on when they see someone. They will be upbeat and either arc around or go off at a bit of a tangent. They will use food to build positive associations.
If the person has a dog they would like Bobby to play with, then they can drop the lead and tell him Go Play!
In this way, to help him feel more confident and less insecure, they should adopt the role of ‘protectors’ themselves.
Wherever possible, like when someone comes into the house, Bobby can now be put into his new pen before they open the door, and be let out to approach them once they are in, and not have them approaching him.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. For an online Help Me Help y Dog consultation, click here.