Pogo is scared of all sorts of thingsWhat a dear little dog Pogo is. He is of indeterminate breed – there is probably both Collie and Terrier in there somewhere. Like so many of the rescue dogs I go to, he comes from Ireland and nobody knows his past. He spent a month in a foster home before joining his new family who have had him for just under two weeks.

He is a biddable and lovely natured dog, not overly nervous generally, but certain situations scare him out of all proportion. There are obviously things he has never encountered and one of those is moving cars. He goes frantic when a car passes, lunging and barking, although he is perfectly fine with stationery vehicles and with being inside a car. High prey drive may contribute also.

Pogo also barks frantically at the washing machine while it is filling with water. He had a bark at the large bag I carry with me. I feel he’s not been exposed to enough different things in his life, and lead walking beside roads is something he probably has never done before.

It is tempting to be cross and vocal when a dog behaves like this, but it does no good at all – in fact the contrary. Nor does ‘reassuring’ or treating which will only validate how he is feeling. Pogo needs to be slowly and gradually habituated to these things. It is an established fact that forcing a dog into situations he can’t cope with will most likely make things a lot worse, as does punishment, scolding and tight physical control which will result in discomfort. In his past a newspaper has obviously been used on Pogo. If a paper is lifted he cowers and runs.

A psychological approach to curing fears is altogether different, if slower, with permanent results and a confident, fearless dog.

Soon Pogo should be chilled around the washing machine – if his owners patiently follow my plan to the letter. It will be the same around traffic if the walking strategies are followed. He has landed on his feet with this family – and they are very fortunate to have such a wonderful little dog.

Latest email received two and a half months after my visit:  “Now, thinking back to the early days, it doesn’t seem possible how far we have come. To think back then that we were ready to give him up and put it down to a bad experience seems a lifetime ago. Once again, I thank you for your encouragement with our perseverance, life without him now would be unthinkable. He has been with us 12wks now and he has his paws firmly under the table. He has learnt how to play and enjoy life as a young dog, enjoys lengthy walks daily (usually in the evening after dinner) and is constantly on the go with our daughter playing, cuddled up and getting plenty of love. The two of them have become inseparable.
In your words, when we adopted Pogo, ‘he wasn’t what we signed up for’ and having been our first rescue dog was a real eye opener, but now I would urge anyone to give a ‘rescue dog’ a chance. If you are prepared to put in the work, the love you receive in return is unconditional.
The hoover is no longer a problem, he has stopped trying to kill it. The washing machine has become part of daily life. He still barks at certain things he hears when out in the garden, but that is usually to let us know someone is around. The normal everyday noises no longer bother him…. He is just far more settled and trusting in us to protect him from what he considers are the bad things in life. He really enjoys his walks and has met so many new friends and walking buddies. His recall (without any distractions) is going well. He walks well on his short lead, but out on long walks we have him on a 20ft lead to give him a little freedom…Despite his strange way with some objects he has become a super dog and we love him very much. He makes us laugh so much with his puppy traits and is so full of fun and zest for life. To think this little star of a dog could have been so close to being put to sleep in the Pound”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.