Nervous Dog. New Puppy. Early Exposure.
What is it with so many Staffies? Is it a genetic tendency I wonder? Nervous dog Tom is yet another Staffie who is fearful of the outside world and reluctant to walk.
Tom drools when he is scared. He does a lot of drooling on walks.
A new Staffie puppy
The other day they brought home a new Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy. Buster is a nine week old heart-breaker with a coat of grey velvet.
When puppy arrived, the poor nervous dog was really scared of him. Tom drooled continuously.
Over the past three days he has improved but still likes to keep out of the enthusiastic puppy’s way.
One surprising development is that Tom himself sometimes now initiates play. Strangely he’s not a nervous dog with Buster when they play. He bows and barks to Buster to get him to chase him.
There is only so much he can take though, and then he’s back to his nervous, quiet self and retires.
Buster follows him into the corner and Tom then drools or tries to escape. It’s like he is expecting to be told off or punished when the puppy is near him (something which definitely isn’t happening).
The big outside world.
They have had the four-year-old Tom for five months now and it’s clear he didn’t get the best start when he was Buster’s age. With my help they will make sure Buster is properly introduced to the outside word of dogs, people, vehicles, wheelie bins, paper bags, buggies and so on. All the experiences should be positive.
They should start this right away. The clock is ticking. Buster needs plenty of early exposure before he is fully vaccinated and ready to put down on the ground. They will have to carry him.
Poor Tom is scared of so many things, particularly when out of the house.
The main priority at present is to get the nervous dog’s stress levels down. To build up his confidence. Then he will be in a better state of mind to cope with Buster and to enjoy his company.
Every time Tom has to face things he is scared of without the opportunity to escape, it makes him worse. Every day he has to face the ordeal of a walk, particularly as it means going under a scary underpass if they are gong to get to the green. This is much too big a price to pay for exercise.
Building confidence in the nervous dog.
They will go back to basics with him and build up the nervous dog’s confidence immediately outside the house, going no further for now. Without this daily stress Tom should then become more resilient around Buster.
Buster fortunately seems a very confident puppy though he hates being alone. After all, he had lots of siblings and had never been alone before. He has adopted a bean bag as his favourite sleeping place, snuggling into it like it’s a pile of puppies.
Patiently and gradually they will wean him into being alone. Over the next six weeks I shall be helping them with all the usual puppy things, a mix of settling into his new life and pre-empting any future possible problems. We will start loose lead walking and basic training.
Confident little Buster may well, in the future, be a real confidence booster to nervous dog Tom – and even bring out the inner, carefree puppy in him.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Tom and Buster and because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same. 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 as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where fearfulness is concerned. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)