Issie’s frantic barking begins every time they arrive at a destination and the car stops.

However, there is a lot more involved. It’s not as simple as just dealing with barking at the end of a journey.

She also gets very wound up when someone walks up to the house, or comes in – including mail.

She will also bark at any animal on the TV.

The little dog is a mix of Westie, Bichon and pug. She’s seven years old.

It’s like she’s on tenterhooks much of the time.

The young couple’s reactions are understandable but they don’t help. Telling her to be quiet doesn’t help to reduce the alarm that she’s feeling inside. Issie needs to know that they are there to protect her.

Keeping her feeling generally more calm and secure is the best and necessary foundation on which to approach the frantic barking in the car. They admit that they themselves are quite excitable people, so will bear it in mind.

The car

Issie jumps into the car quite willingly and they strap her in on the back seat.

As soon as they begin to move, Issie starts to shake. Instead of settling down, she stands and leans forward like she’s ready to defend herself.

Whatever the length of the journey, Issie never settles. One can imagine just how wired she is at the end of the journey – particularly a longer one.

The frantic barking

Her screaming starts at the destination – any destination, near or far. The frantic barking starts more or less at the same time as they turn the key in the ignition to stop the engine.

The sound is piercing and nothing they can do stops her. They are expecting a baby in the spring so would really like to do something about it.

This is the plan:

First thing is to calm everything down as much as possible at home. Make sure she feels safe. Give her the best foundation to work from.

Each element should be dealt with separately, one at a time, starting at the beginning.

Each little step should become something she is comfortable with. They will keep repeating each until ready to move onto the next one.

They should incorporate the first steps below to the beginning and end of each road walk.

  • Getting in and out of the car.
  • Strapping her in, letting her out
  • Strapping her in, getting in the driver’s seat, door open. Door shut. Chuck her special food.
  • Engine on and off again. Feed her.

Don’t go beyond this stage until her body language is relaxed.

  • Drive a few yards, stop, feed, reverse. Stop the engine, feed.
  • Drive a few yards at the start of a walk and pick the car up on the way home. All the time throwing food whenever they stop or turn the engine off.
  • They build from here with lots of stopping and turning the engine off – and feeding.

How does this work?

It works step by step, building one bit at a time

Desensitising is to regularly expose her to the edge of what scares her – always only at an intensity she’s okay with, her comfort threshold.

Counter-conditioning her is about pairing the scary thing with something she loves – but always within that comfort threshold.

It’s best if meanwhile they don’t drive Issie anywhere as this would be flooding her and could break the carefully building trust and confidence.

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