Sienna was, until a few weeks ago, a street dog in Romania.
She is about 18 months old and was found with one puppy. It took a week to catch her. No wonder she is wary of people though she’s fine with dogs.
They are giving her an amazing home. In the six weeks she has lived in a house, they have made great headway.
The sticking point is her fear of people and the resulting barking.
This is a good example of where the people want to ‘stop the barking’ and where it’s not really the barking that we are dealing with at all.
The former street dog barking is a symptom.
The cause is fear – and understandably.
Formerly, her life as a street dog, possibly abandoned pet, must have been a nightmare. She was trying to survive and look after her puppy, but she was free.
Now she’s in a house surrounded by walls and doors. She is trapped when outside in the garden. On walks, she is captured – on the end of a lead.
Sienna’s new life
Sienna is chilled in the morning after a night to calm down. As the day progresses and more happens, she becomes more aroused and reactive.
The two main triggers are people passing the front window and along the footpath that runs the length of their garden. Above the fence she can see heads and the movement of people through the gaps.
Out on walks she is okay with people if not too close or if they stop to talk. If she could, she would probably run off as she would have done as a street dog.
Management plays an important part. They will block Sienna’s view out of the front window so now they will only need to deal with sounds of passing people when indoors.
In the garden someone will accompany her. They will have her on a long line to prevent her rushing barking at people along the fence.
How will they actually deal with with the barking itself?
They will address the cause. Indoors, every time she is alarmed they will deal with it as fast as they can, before she gets stuck in. They will pair the sound of person outside with something she loves – cheese or sprats! (I tailor the precise detail of how to the case concerned as one size never fits all).
In the garden they will work well away from the fence and again pair and associate passing people with something Sienna loves (desensitising and counter-conditioning).
Capturing the moment
In order to capture the exact thing they are pairing, as immediately as possible, I have shown them how to use a clicker for this. She will become more aroused with each passing person so sessions should be short.
Out on walks (which they are wisely taking gradually) again they can associate people they encounter with food – and always at a comfortable distance.
The family has loads of patience and they adore her. I’m sure they will now help build up Sienna’s confidence around people and convince her that they are no longer scary.
This street dog has certainly found her feet.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help