As she appears in the doorway, he charges at the young girl, barking.

It begins when four-year-old Sprocker Austin hears the ten-year-old daughter moving about upstairs.

As she appears in the doorway, he charges at her.

The poor kid is scared. He charges, barks and jumps at her, mouth open.

Apart from this behaviour with the girl, he’s a lovely dog to live with. One wonders why he picks on her?

I have been to a good number of similar cases. For some reason, the dog reacts like this to a certain family member entering the room. It can just as likely be the man of the family.

They suggested that Austin may be protecting or guarding the lady as a kind of resource. But he also charges, barking, if another family member is with him and the lady’s not there.

It’s not every time. Possibly it’s when he’s already stressed. Perhaps he defaults to guarding is own personal space or even the room.

In many cases the dog can feel intimidated. Someone appearing in a doorway is often a trigger and that in itself can seem intimidating. Hearing the girl upstairs first there is a kind of build-up. It erupts when he appears.

Whatever it is, the dog isn’t happy.

Nor is the daughter. We must change this.

First of all we looked at all aspects of the dog’s life to see where he’s becoming over-stressed and then charges. A calm dog wouldn’t feel the need.

His daily walks stress him. Where he should be able to sniff and mooch in comfort, he wears a head halter. As soon as they get to put it on him, he tries to escape.

Reactive to some other dogs and people, he may lunge. He charges at them. Immediately he will feel acute discomfort either on his snout or neck – or both.

Instead, he should be receiving positive associations with people and dogs.

(Already the next day they bought a harness with a ring on the chest. The very same evening, to quote: “We popped to Pets at Home for a harness and we tested him out last night. He was sooo happy!”).

Positive associations

As time goes by things escalate. The girl’s anxious demeanour will almost ‘ask for it’.

He starts to react as soon as he hears the girl walking about upstairs. He’s then on edge. Alert. As she appears in the doorway he charges at her.

So we start by building positive associations as soon as Austin hears the girl moving about upstairs. Soon he will be thinking ‘Oh Good! now I will receive food!”. Not “Oh oh she will soon be coming downstairs and into the room”.

The final trigger

So the final trigger for when he charges at her is the sight of her in the doorway.

The girl needs to know what to do before she appears in the doorway. The person downstairs needs to know what to do as soon as she starts moving about upstairs.

We worked on a plan to suit this particular case. Already they are successfully putting it in place.

It’s so natural to scold the dog but this the very wrong thing to do. A trainer had suggested spraying her with water. The same trainer who advised the short lead and head halter when out.

The poor child had thought it was her fault. I’m so pleased she is already a lot happier.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. 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. Click here for help