Spookiness maybe inheritedHe was found as a 6 week old puppy on a motorway in Miami with a tight rope around his neck.

Spookiness probably has a genetic component.

In the circumstances it seems likely that four year old mix breed Travis was born of fearful parents and his spookiness could have a genetic component.  He has had a couple of accidents due to bolting due through fear. On one occasion he was knocked down by a car.

He actually does very well indeed, but over time his spookiness of people is increasing, those that approach him and especially those coming into his house.

He has now bitten a couple of times – lightly so far and not breaking the skin.

They have shut him in his crate for many hours several days a week, which needs to change somehow. Even though he doesn’t seem to be suffering because of it, eleven hours at a time is much too long. They feel they can’t ask someone to let him out or to walk him because they can’t trust him with people entering their house.

He was better than I thought he would be

After I had sat myself down at the kitchen table which is the safest place and least threatening to a scared dog, and sent the teenage son to bring him in on lead, I was expecting lunging, barking and snarling. Not at all.

Travis was obviously very uncomfortable, making a sort of huffing, snorting sound, but he didn’t bark and he didn’t lunge. Very soon the lead was off but I sat still. He ate a bit of biscuit I dropped on the floor, and was soon taking it from my hand. I didn’t look at him. It is always easier if dogs are food-orientated like Travis.

Soon I was teaching him to look me in the eye – a real challenge for him – and to voluntarily touch my hand.

His confidence needs building up in every way possible and in all aspects of his life. I demonstrated how people should behave when visiting – and also how the family should behave in order to help him out. By shutting him away things can only get worse.

Travis is just a very jumpy dog, skittish at sudden sounds and spookiness resulting in wanting to bolt if he meets or hears something unexpected. He feels more confident when out with the son, but that will be because the lad himself feels more confident and it demonstrates how the owner’s own confidence can so effect a dog.

A stiff drink before walks could do wonders!