The dear little Lhasa Apso Jack Russell mix seems to have a near perfect life. Why is she so easily scared and spooked? They have had her since she was a puppy and she has always been nervous. It must surely be genetic.
Celeste is ‘living on the edge’.
The dear little five-year-old is very aware and alert. She’s ready to react at any little sound. Even animated voices at home or people moving calmly about can send her running for cover.
Every day she is having to face ordeals that continually top up her stress levels. Things like traffic, particularly large or noisy vehicles, post coming through the door and even the smallest of bangs.
She may be walking along happily and then, with no warning, suddenly go into a panic – freeze or run. Nobody else can hear anything, but Celeste obviously has.
She will have heard something that their inferior human ears can’t hear.
Easily spooked by almost anything.
She needs a calmer general base level, I feel – to be less spooked in general. We looked at all aspects of her life, including her diet, to see ways in which we can encourage her to be a bit more relaxed. This will be like a jigsaw – every small bit that is put in should contribute to a calmer overall picture.
Celeste is currently walked on collar and lead. She may try to run when she is spooked. The tightening lead will without doubt cause her little neck discomfort. Because we want to associate things she is scared of with positive things that she likes, this will be doing the very opposite. They will now walk her on a harness.
Walks will be mostly near home for now, letting her do a lot of sniffing and allowing her to come straight back home if she is spooked.
Ignore what ‘people’ say!
If they want to go further, they can carry her. Why not? If she feels safe and comfortable being carried, then they should carry her. When all is quiet and she is relaxed, they can see if she would like to walk – being ready to rescue her instantly she is spooked.
If whilst carrying her, from her sanctuary in their arms she sees something that usually scares her, they can offer her food. The scary thing will now begin to trigger something she likes. If she’s not interested, they should first increase distance away from it.
Celeste will never change personality and be the most confident little dog, but I would predict, in time, that the length of time she’s happy walking on the ground will increase and she will become less easily spooked in general.