Black Labrador Molly looks like she is hauntedYou might almost believe that Molly has her own personal ghost. All of a sudden she can start to react in a scared, haunted sort of way, looking behind her, ears flat and tail between her legs, before sloping off, like she is being stalked by an invisible monster. Out on walks her fear is so severe that she will start to shake, and in the past she has run for home. There are no recognisable specific triggers.

One or two things have happened in her life that she found traumatic and might have seen the onset of her fearful behaviours – but only things that would have had little impression on a more confident dog.

Sometimes Molly will refuse to go for walks altogether, or she may go a little way and then refuse to go further. She may be happily running and doing what dogs do, to suddenly be overcome with a sort of panic attack. Whilst her problems manifest themselves mostly out on walks, there are clues at home. On the face of it she has the very best life any dog could hope for.

With a nervous dog like Molly, I believe being able to make all her own choices can lead to chronic insecurity. She sleeps where she likes at night, she has free run of the house during the day, she can’t decide in which room she wants to lie and moves about from one place to another, she eats when and where she likes, on walks she pulls like mad, she decides when they play with her and she decides what attention she wants.

I would call her a worried dog, burdened by responsibility.

When her owners have finally convinced Molly that they are her ‘rock’ and can be relied upon to make life’s fundamental decisions for her, I am sure she will become more confident. If she makes all her decisions at home, how can she trust them to make the important decisions when out? She probably feels exposed and unprotected. Children are secure and stable who have decisions made for them, so they can just get on with being kids. Liberal parents who either don’t believe in rules and boundaries or can’t be bothered, don’t necessarily have happy children. I believe it’s the same with dogs, and with them things are much more black and white.  The really important things to a dog are food, going out and keeping safe. Molly should not need to be in charge of these things herself. They are the job of the leader/parent/owner.

With a bit of insight into how dogs see things, I’m sure Molly’s humans will soon fill in gaps. If she were a less sensitive character, what they are doing already would be absolutely fine.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.