On walks Betty freezes.

Feeling they are doing the right thing they kindly pressurise her to continue.

About five years ago the seven-year-old Rommie began to get increasingly jumpy. They can’t pinpoint exactly when it started or what happened, but believe it will have been a bang when she was out.

Two homes

It’s a slightly untidy situation in that the dog is shared between two homes. Some of her behaviours are quite different in each home. The lady works full time so her mother has Betty living with her for more than 50% of the time.

There are two main areas we are concentrating on. One – her general reactivity to any sudden sound at home or out – van doors slamming for instance.

Choice on walks

Two – Getting Betty to begin to enjoy walks again.

Their current approach to her freezing on walks clearly isn’t working. This, in itself, is a reason for doing things differently. Giving her choice

She is eager to leave but very soon she may freeze. Then they use persuasion and maybe try to be firm. It doesn’t work.

Instead of putting any pressure on her they will allow her choice. They will now say ‘ok – let’s go home’ as soon as she stops. Once home, they may like to wait five minutes and have another go, turning back to home at the first sign of fear.

Letting her know she has freedom of choice and an escape should give her more confidence. If she knows she can opt out whenever she likes, it’s logical to assume she will begin to dare to go further.

Desensitising to sudden sounds

At home they will work on desensitising her to sudden sounds of all kinds.

This means marking the sound immediately with the word Yes and then dropping food. Even marking with Yes a sudden alert and then dropping food. It means having food to hand and being on the ball. Even if she is barking and not interested in the food, it is still the sound that triggered the food (not the barking). She will know that. She can come back it later.

They asked: if we give food while she is barking, aren’t we rewarding barking?

This is the age-old misconception. They are dealing with fear, not barking. Barking is just a symptom. This should explain this more thoroughly.

Her fearfulness is so entrenched that the lady is going to take her to the vet to discuss some medical help for a while.

What a beautiful little dog. Having come from Rumania at 4 months old, her early formative weeks and months won’t have been the best.

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. Click here for help