Anxious Dog. Permanently Hypervigilant. Pants. Paces.

The smallest thing sets anxious Cas off.  If he settles for a moment, just the intake of breath from someone is enough to cause him to leap to his feet again. Then he rushes about, mouth wide open, panting. 

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier may settle again – briefly. Then a sound from outside starts him off again. When suddenly alarmed, his response may be to charge at somebody, mouth open, and jump on them – usually the young man.

No aggression until the other day.

Continue reading…

Agitated. Anxious When They Talk to People

Trevor, an absolute sweetie, was extremely agitated by my being there. He is a small, very young-looking black Staffie age ten.

He never stopped pacing, chewing and panting all the time I was there. Two-and-a-half hours.

This is how he behaves when anyone comes to the house. When alone with the couple he is relaxed and calm. No pacing or panting, that’s for sure. Apart from when the grandchildren are there, who Trevor adores, it’s a quiet life.

Was it scenting?

Interestingly, as soon as I arrived he wound himself vigorously around my legs like a cat for a while which I suspect was about putting his scent on me. Possibly he feels more secure when people coming to his house smell like ‘family’? My own dogs certainly showed more interest than usual in the scent on my trousers when I got home.

Agitated

Never stopped moving for a photo

Although very friendly, he became increasingly agitated over the time I was there. This is the opposite to what normally happens though many dogs don’t settle, not used to people simply sitting still and talking to each other in an intense kind of way for this length of time.

As soon as I left they tell me he settled, lay down and went to sleep. He was exhausted.

Trevor on walks is the perfect dog, just as he is at home. He is good with all dogs, he comes back when called, he doesn’t pull. The only problem is when they stop to speak to someone. Poor Trevor’s tail goes between his legs and he shakes. He becomes very agitated.

Could it be something to do with his previous life?

For the first six years of his life Trevor lived with a younger couple. They had obviously loved him and trained him well.

Then they split up. Neither could take him.

He has lived with my clients for four years now.

It is pure speculation, I admit, but is it possible that in his past life animated conversation sometimes ended in a row which scared him? (If the man forgets himself and shouts at TV, Trevor is terrified).

Agitated and anxious. Worse recently.

Sticking to facts, he is a relaxed and calm dog when alone with the couple. He loves his off-lead walks but is not happy if they meet someone and the humans start talking. He becomes very agitated when anyone, including family, comes to the house.

Recently it has become worse. This has coincided with the lady retiring. It suggests a change in routine is unsettling the sensitive dog.

No longer going out to work, the lady has friends coming to the house to see her more often. This will mean there is more animated talking going on.

Trevor paces, he pants, he frantically chews something. He stops briefly to be touched (I tried gentle massage but he couldn’t stay still) and then moves again. Round and round. He licks his lips. With nothing to chew, he may chew his feet.

For starters, we want to get Trevor back to how he was until a few weeks ago when the lady retired and his agitation and anxiety accelerated. He always has been agitated with people about, but not this bad.

They will try to make his routine more like what it used to be where possible. They will avoid things that obviously stir him up where they can and give him activities that help to calm him. There are things like Thundershirt, special music, a plug-in and a calming collar that they could try as well.

I am hoping that, as a certain supermarket says, ‘every little helps’ and that things added together produce results.

No talking.

When friends come round, they will experiment with silence, with the person being very calm and trying ‘no talking at all’ from time to time. Is it talking that’s the problem? I didn’t try five minutes’ silence myself because the possible connection with talking only dawned on me as I left. Like so many cases, it’s about detective work.

When they meet someone out on a walk, the lady can stand Trevor further away. With more distance he should feel safer. The lady can drop food for him, he is fortunately very food motivated, so that he can begin to associate his humans stopping to chat with something good. Over time this should replace any possible previous negative associations.

They will involve the vet, both to check Trevor has no developing medical problem and maybe to back up the behaviour work with medication. In cases like this we should not forget complementary therapies.

Our end aim is for Trevor to stop being agitated when they are talking to someone whether this is at home or out on a walk. This fear is blighting the sweet dog’s life.

From an email three weeks later: ‘Just a quick update. Had a friend round last week. Before she came Trevor was out in the garden searching for “sprinkles” for about thirty minutes, I used Pet Remedy spray before she arrived and I put his Thundershirt on him as well. She commented on his behaviour as soon as she arrived, as to how much calmer he was. Before very long Trevor was lying on the sofa next to her, just like he does in the evenings with me.’

 

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 Trevor and the because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same.  Listening to ‘other people’, finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly, particularly where fear is concerned. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. 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)

A Dog Has Feelings Much Like Us

Their dog has feelings similar to their own.

When I arrived, the man had Cocker Spaniel Danny in the shower. The dog had just come back from his favourite occupation – swimming in a muddy brook. The wet dog then greeted me – confident, curious and friendly.Dog has feelings too

I had been called to help an anxious dog and they want him to be happier. He seemed quite happy to me – if a bit unsettled. He did, however, have strange short bouts of what I can only call shaking shutdown. He would stand still head and tail down, and tremble. There are a few clues as to why he might be doing this based on what is happening beforehand (which was nothing apart from our sitting around a table, talking and taking no notice of him) and the reaction it gets (it generates sympathy and cuddles from the man).

They will be taking him to the vet to investigate further for possible physical causes.

This dog has a great life. He loves their three young children and lives with a calm little Cockerpoo. He has freedom to run in woods and fields and do ‘spaniel’ things (one thing I shall be helping them with later is loose lead walking – currently Danny would rather carry the lead!).

Where Danny’s anxiety is concerned, it manifests around certain vehicles; he also gets anxious and growly when there are too many people in the house, particularly children.

Chatting began to uncover the problem. Old-school attitudes tend to believe the dog should be disciplined and kept in line according to his lower place in the ‘pack’. This doesn’t imply cruelty but it doesn’t recognise that the dog has feelings and reacts to things very much in the same way as we would. People like this family don’t feel comfortable with this approach, but  do things because they feel they should and that it’s the right way. It isn’t. A dog doesn’t need dominating but understanding.

There has been considerable scientific research recently that has proved beyond all doubt that a dog has feelings and emotions like our own. Eminent people have exposed the old dominance, alpha wolf, pack theory as a myth.

It’s a funny thing that someone who loves their dog so much, cuddles and comforts him, can at the same be insensitive to some of his fears.

If the dog is scared of something, the old way could well be to make him face it. If he growls and particularly if he bites, the old view is that this should be punished.

When Danny was scared of the ride-on mower as a young puppy, the man lifted him onto his knee as he mowed and too late he knew this was the wrong thing to do. The puppy was absolutely terrified. The dog now, six years later, still panics if the man even walks towards the shed the mower is kept in. The fear has generalised to other vehicles.

If this had been a fearful child they would undoubtedly have taken it slowly and patiently, helping him to learn to like the mower.

Now Danny has bitten a child.

It happened because nobody was paying attention to how he was feeling even though he did his best to tell them. He was punished in several ways. He was then sent away to stay with someone else for a couple of days.

Surprisingly, he isn’t yet showing any signs of the fallout which will surely come unless they now listen to what their dog is desperately trying to tell them.

.

Imagine if the story was about a child and not a dog.

Here is the same incident put into a human context.

Imagine that you are a child who wants to be left alone in peace to do your own thing and there are lots of people in your house. You find refuge in your own bedroom, but a bigger boy follows you in there and he won’t leave you alone. You politely tell him to go away but he pushes you, so you shout at him. Mum hears and she asks the boy to leave you alone.

Behind you mum’s back, the boy then comes back to your room to annoy you. You ask the boy to go away again; you yell at him and he continues to goad you. So you push him away. You feel scared. He won’t stop pestering you. You snap, you scream and then you hit him.

Now what happens?

Your world falls in.

The boy yells. People come running into your room shouting at you; your dad, who you trust, for some reason out of the blue attacks you. Later, after you thought it was all over, he comes back; he grabs you by the scruff of your neck and roughly throws you out of the house whilst attacking you again. You start to cry so loudly that he opens the door and chucks cold water over you to shut you up. You stifle your sobs, shivering and confused.

The next day they send you away to live somewhere else (you don’t know if you will ever come back home again).

You have learnt two things: that bigger kids are bad news and that you can’t trust your dad to help you out either. You have learnt that asking nicely doesn’t work. You have learnt that your bedroom isn’t a safe place. You have learnt that your dad is unpredictable and can be scary.

Punishment may work in the moment, but there is always long-term fallout.

The bond is very close between man and dog to the point over of over-dependence, which no doubt makes inconsistent or unprovoked behaviour very confusing for Danny. No wonder that at times he is anxious. Here he is in this picture, worrying as the man walks away and down the garden path.

I was called out so he would become a ‘happier dog – less anxious’, and we have found the key: understanding that the dog has feelings just like us, and dealing with his fears in the same way as we would our child’s fears.

Building up the dog’s confidence will require patience and lots of positive reinforcement, from the man in particular, so that he can rectify any damage previously done to their relationship. If there is no physical reason for his ‘shaking shutdowns’ then this approach should stop them also.

One month later: I visited again today. Danny has virtually stopped all shaking and growling and her humans have worked hard to stick by the new rules. I have just received this feedback: Could not recommend Theo highly enough. She visited us and our dog and with her depth of knowledge and skill made many recommendations. Training is on-going however the difference was noticeable within days. We have a much happier and far less stressed dog.
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 Danny. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly, particularly where fearfulness is concerned. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page)

 

Constantly Chewing Herself

JRBella2Jack Russell Bella is constantly nibbling, sucking and chewing herself – or scratching.

She has many seasonal allergies and allergies to food, but the nibbling and sucking was something else. The intensity and manner in which she was chewing herself looked to me like she was deliberately shutting out the world.

How could this be when she is loved so much?

I could see that she was enormously stressed. In fact, the lady and her daughter were also anxious and fearful – mostly about Bella, something she would be picking up on.

The dog is the centre of their universe. She is treated very excitedly whether it is physical play, cuddles or when one of them arrives home.  I have found that constant focus on a dog can be a burden for it – as it would for us. Caring owners however should never beat themselves up when they are doing things with the very best of intentions.

I experimented and found she liked being touched very gently but not vigorously at all. A little tickle behind her ears or a tickle on her chest. A hand stretched out over her made he cower slightly. It is enlightening for people to read a bit more of their dog’s body language.

Little Bella is extremely jumpy. Any small sound of a cooking utensil sends her running and she is also scared on walks – a car door slamming causes her to freeze or try to run for home.

It didn’t help that a while ago when they were out, neighbours reported a break-in and three police officers smashed through the front door with poor little Bella the other side. Also, last year a large dog got into their garden and in protecting little Bella the lady was very badly bitten and is now terrified. Watching out for dogs makes walks a nightmare for her as well. There have been some hard times.

We had a lovely evening. We gave Bella little attention – something they never would normally have considered. Instead of focussing on the scratching and sucking and constantly trying to distract or stop her, the daughter quietly gave her a tiny bit of food each time she stopped.

They said it was the calmest the house had been for years.

I have just received an email to say that Bella slept better than ever last night and didn’t wake until 9.30.

It is my bet that as she relaxes her allergies will improve and she will also stop chewing herself.

Just a couple of weeks later I have received this message: We are so happy with our beautifully behaved, quiet little dog.  The house is so quiet and calm and we really cannot believe the difference already.  She is doing so well and the only time she slips up is when I am not so on the ball (she has learnt quicker than me), but she is much younger !! it is a real learning curve for us too.
And a week after that, ‘Well, I have to say that Bella is a transformed dog, I barely recognise her, she is so different. Mum has done so well and is really firm about the new changes, and regime. I am comforted in the fact that she is so calm when I don’t make a big thing of greeting her.  It was so hard at first, I had to go into another room as I had tears in my eyes! Oh dear. Thank you so much again for all your solid advice, it makes so much sense and we could not have done it without you.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Bella, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Anxious Terrier Faces Huge Adjustments

Jayden had been in rescue kennels for two yearsJayden is a complicated little chap who is trying to adjust to huge changes in his life. He had been in rescue in Terrier Jayden is often motionless and inscrutableAustralia for two years and was brought over here by a young couple just a week or so ago. After a long flight he is becoming used to living in a house.

A year ago the lady worked in those kennels. She made friends with the anxious terried by sitting with him in her lunch breaks and has undoubtedly made considerable headway already, by simply giving him love.

She is now a vet nurse and this is from her original message to me: “…he has been previously abused or terribly socialised. I have worked with many rescue dogs and he is the most anxious I have ever met. He has some aggression problems. He chair guards so he is no longer allowed on the sofa, he has food aggression which we are working on, but the problem I have is the time he unexpectedly snaps at us. He will come on my lap for a cuddle, and when I stroke him sometimes he goes for me. It is very disheartening as I cannot see what has triggers it….. he is too scared to go for a proper walk and will only go to the end of the road and back at the moment, although this is an improvement”.

What wonderful people this little dog now lives with. The time has come, however, for them to have an objective view. They are giving him far too much attention, to the extent that every time he moves he’s asked ‘are you okay?’ It shouldn’t be assumed that just because he jumps on them that he’s come for a cuddle. He may just like the comfy closeness and cuddles will be a novelty to him. He is often motionless and inscrutable, but every now and then his inner state may manifest itself with lip-licking, shaking off, paw lifting and yawning. He may simply stare at them from a door way, motionless and anxious. He drags a blanket to his food bowl to bury it under.  When they come home he crawls towards them on his tummy, and in his excitement this is the only time he allows petting. He takes out his stress on his blanket – ripping or humping it.

Jayden is a little dog of contradictions. He is unnaturally quiet – the only thing he has barked at (so far) is vapour trails from planes in the sky. Perhaps the sound the aircraft reminds him of his long journey? When I entered, surprisingly he just sniffed me and settled down in his bed until later, when the pressure of human attention was focussed on him.

We isolated some of the issues – snapping when touched, snapping around food, growling and snapping when approached and on a sofa or chair, fear of the car and hoover, and cowering when approached with his harness or lead.

Each of these things can be broken down into tiny increments and worked on – just as they are already doing on the walks. For instance, they can start touching parts of his body he’s okay with, using treats, and keeping it at no more than just one touch with the back of the hand whilst watching very carefully for any signals – freezing or looking away for instance – that show he’s unhappy and would mean they have gone too far, so should immediately backtrack. He can eventually be taught, as a food-rewarded ‘touch’ game, to approach hands himself.

They will do everything they possibly can to lower his stress levels and take pressure off him.

Just imagine, being in kennels for two years after a past life we can’t even guess at, having at five years of age to adjust to the sort of normal loving home life he has probably never known. The couple desparately want to compensate for his past, and I think they now see that they may be overdoing it a bit. Hand feeding and leaving his food about, waiting on him, being on his case all the time and so wanting to cuddle him, are all notions that need to be abandoned for the forseeable future.

He is one little Australian pound dog who has belatedly fallen on his feet.

Trying Too Hard to Have a Perfect Dog

wanting the perfect dogThey think Otis is a Ridgeback crossed with a Pharaoh Hound. This wonderful young dog has been through a lot in the one year of his short life. He started life in a puppy farm, ended up in a shelter for several months, and a couple of months ago was adopted by a young couple – my clients.

He was in a woeful, thin state having hated being kennelled. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they discovered he had a congenital heart disease so he needed major surgery.

The gentleman is with Otis all day as he works from home and has worked very hard training him to be a house dog and to be obedient. He has done amazingly well. All was going more or less to plan until three weeks ago when Otis went back to the shelter in order to be castrated.

Castration fallout

Since then he has become anxious and needy, developing separation problems; understandably insecure.

This dog is incredibly obedient, I would say somewhat repressed and over-controlled. With anxiety now part of the equation, the man has been becoming increasingly frustrated because this is an aspect of Otis’ behaviour that he is unable to control. The anxiety is affecting the dog’s behaviour towards people he meets or hears and how the gentleman feels about his dog.

Otis has been kept in the kitchen even when they are in the sitting room. He has been trained to stay in the crate even though the door is open. The reasoning being that if he’s allowed to join them once he will expect to be there all the time. When they go out for a smoke in the garden, they may leave Otis in the kitchen, watching out of the window, thinking that if they always let him out it will create a precedent.

The perfect dog.

I think this wanting Otis to be the perfect dog is backfiring on them. Just as something that is too freely available loses value, the converse must be true and if a dog is starved of something (company) he will crave it more and hence his increasing neediness for company. There is also inconsistency between the couple resulting in conflict. The lady is much more relaxed and wants cuddles while the man has been set on creating the perfect dog. I felt terrific sympathy for both of them.

At the end of our time together, he volunteered that he was banging his head against a brick wall of his own making. Otis had to be in the sitting room all the time I was there and he was as good as gold. With the ongoing self-imposed pressure to ‘get it right’ the man has been pushing himself and Otis much too hard, but in treating Otis in a way that rested comfortably with her, his wife was in effect undermining him. She, too, has compromises to make.

In his efforts to do his very best for his dog the poor man had lost his way and lost sight of the reason they got the dog – to enjoy family life with his lovely wife and their happy dog.

Their first task is to look for every GOOD thing they can see their dog doing and immediately reward it with a piece of his kibble which they should keep in their pocket – whether it’s watching the cat walk by without moving, settling down after pacing or not barking when he hears something outside.

It’s amazing what a different mindset can do.

I had an email this morning: ‘It was great to meet you last night. I can’t tell you how much things have improved already! Otis seems much happier and in turn so are we’.

Ollie Needs Help in Getting Used to the New Baby

Border Terrier is worried and chewing helpsOllie has to get used to the new babyWe need a plan for integrating Border Terrier Ollie happily back into a new family life which now includes a baby who cries, grunts, smells interesting, that is carried and who is cuddled and kissed – like Ollie himself used to be.

I originally visited Ollie over four years ago, long before I started my ‘stories’ on this website.

His young lady owner was in hospital for a few weeks with her baby and her parents had been looking after Ollie. A couple of days ago he was dropped back home.

Ollie was very uneasy, especially when the baby cried or was cuddled and they feared Ollie might jump on him or nip him. Their anxiety will have been picked up by Ollie, only increasing his stress. So, the parents had taken him back home with them again. They realised they needed help.

Ollie must get used to the baby and the baby must be kept safe.

Yesterday, in advance of my visit, he was brought back again. When I arrived baby was asleep in his pram and Ollie was quietly behind the kitchen gate which led off the sitting room. All was peaceful.

I brought Ollie into the room on a longish lead, keeping it as loose as possible.Each time he looked in the direction of the pram, I treated him. The lady then lifted her baby out and sat down with him – and treats for Ollie. Each time the baby stirred or Ollie looked at him, the lady gave Ollie a treat. Ollie’s lead stopped just short of allowing him to reach baby. Everyone could relax.

We hooked the lead over something so that no emotions could be transmitted down it – and then baby started to cry. Ollie didn’t like this at all and gave some loud ‘yips’, lunging in the direction of the baby. As the lead was only attached to a thin collar, this unfortunately will have been very uncomfortable to his neck.

Before they can go further they need a harness so that Ollie never associates baby with any  discomfort. Only nice things must happen for Ollie around the baby. He was reasonably relaxed so long as baby wasn’t crying. I gave him a Stagbar to chew whilst the baby was awake but not crying and he chewed it fervently like he was shutting out baby noises – see the picture! Our strategy is to walk him back to the kitchen if something obviously bothers him like when baby cries, and to work slowly. No scolding. Encouragement only. It was quite clear when he was worried as he would lift a paw and lick his lips, so they need to watch for these signs.

The couple were very surprised at the progress we had made in such a short time. Fortunately the parents live nearby and can take him back home so that he can be exposed for an hour or so at a time while the hustband is at home also, until a crying baby is just a normal part of his life – something to be ignored.

Ollie was himself, until recently, their baby!

Cocker Spaniel Monty Has Regressed

cockerMontyI visited Monty 18 months ago and he was something of a puppy nightmare – see here for his story back then: http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=2778.

Following instructions, Monty and his family were doing so well that bit by bit they departed from our plan, thinking it no longer necessary. Gradually his old problems returned, and instead of going back to the plan which had worked so well before, they have been ‘listening to people’ and ‘looking on the internet’ (one suggestion given to the young adult daughter was to stare him out which is an extremely aggressive and confrontational thing for one dog to do to another and which I would never, ever do with a dog).

Monty has been receiving a lot of confusing mixed messages.

Things have now have reached crisis point. Monty attacked the daughter twice last week; he is highly stressed. He growls constantly which is ignored as ‘not serious’. Unwittingly it’s being reinforced with lots of attention and the poor dog is now totally confused. He’s a mix of wilful and anxious – he jumped at me, nipped and humped me when I arrived, apparently because I was taking no notice of him; he is very persistent in getting his own way. We put him on harness and lead. He settled down. Later, he growled and lunged at the daughter; he was really scared afterwards and all I did was to silently lead him away.

We looked in detail at events that led up to each of the attacks and exactly what happened afterwards; these two areas need carefully working on against a backdrop of respecting his efforts to communicate, and taking as much general pressure off him as possible.

Monty never has liked invasion of his space; his growls are always ignored. One of the attacks happened on a day when he was already probably over-stimulated by other things and after he had been approached and touched in his bed – despite his warnings. He can’t talk, after all. Soon afterwards the daughter bent over to touch him. Explosion. What more can a dog do when he’s never listened to?

Because of how he was when I first met him aged 5 months, I just wonder whether there may be a touch of ‘Cocker rage’ – just enough for him to ‘unpredictably’ fly off the handle if his stress levels are sufficiently high.  Should this be the case it’s even more important that his humans are consistent and whilst giving consistent rules and boundaries they are also respectful of his needs.

When things go pear shaped it’s usually because owners have been treating behaviour modification a bit like giving antibiotic for an infection and once clear the medication stops. They need to regard it more like insulin – something that has to be administered for the rest of his life for a permanent condition.

So, it’s back to square one with Monty, and always harder the second time around.

Boisterous Younger Staffie is Too Much for Older Dog

a gentle somewhat nervous dog

Stonker

Stonker on the left is a seven year old Staffie. Up until a couple of years ago before coming to his new home he was used as a stud dog. Bella, now six months, joined them as a puppy. Since then poor Stonker’s life has not been plagued by her.

He is a very gentle and somewhat nervous dog. He doesn’t like lots of people, noise or commotion. He can get very anxious and was panting for a lot of the time I was there.

Bella hasn’t a care in the world. She is a typical rather pushy pup. In the house she will not leave poor Stonker alone, jumping on him and trying to play fight. He is severely stressed with this, so he goes and hides. Much of the time now he’s in hiding.

Lying down at last

Bella

When I arrived Bella was flying all over the place and trying to jump all over me. It was impossible to stop her and I don’t believe in any shouting or pointless ignored commands, so I put a light lead on her collar. It is surprising how some dogs calm down immediately even if the lead isn’t being held. Bella stopped jumping about, she left Stonker alone and very soon she gave a long sigh and lay down – as you see in the picture – something that never happens when they have visitors.  I’m sure she was relieved to know where the boundaries lay.

Consequently Stonker joined us. His panting stopped and he relaxed – that is until the gentleman walked out of the room when he started panting and looking distressed again. You can see anxiety in those eyes. By their own actions and behaviour towards Stonker, his humans can help him.

Staffies have a reputation that in my mind is completely undeserved. I have been to thousands of dogs. In spite of being nervous, shy or scared, few have been aggressive – probably fewer than dogs of many other breeds. Because they are stocky, biddable and strong, and resembling fighting dogs to look at, they have been abused by idiots.

About a month later: Stonker is slowly becoming a new dog he is spending more time on the sofa and out the crate when we home bit by bit now and if he does go to hide he doesn’t stay in it like he normally would he will come in and out of it and he is panting less now. They are slowly starting to interact more the other night I was outside with them and Bella had the ball in her mouth…he got hold of the other end of the ball and they played tug of war with it both tail wagging and then after they had a little game of chase where they just ran round the garden both looked very happy. There was one night when Stonker was on the sofa Bella came up and Stonker did not run away and they both settled next to each other for about 10 mins before Bella went to pester…I see the progress they have both made. We are relaxing more ourselves now and coming home from work is more pleasurable as it not as hectic as it used to be.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Goes Frantic When People Walk Out

Border Collie Bella is anxious and waryFour-year-old Bella should be a happy dog. She lives with a great family who love her, she is well fed, she has good exercise and a comfortable bed.

However, she is not a happy dog much of the time. Bella is anxious and wary. She has to know where each family member is all the time, running around the house and trying to round them up. She goes ‘mental’ when they try to leave the house and she may nip a visiting person who starts walking out through a door, though, interestingly, she is quite settled once she is all alone.

The little boy is only two years old, and Bella feels threatened and growls if she is cornered by him. So far he’s not been nipped.

Being in a family with three children there is a lot of bustle and excitement – particularly before school in the mornings. Bella gets very worked up indeed, running around the house and as the first ones leave for school, hurling herself at the window, barking.

Bella is very wary of new people and other dogs, especially men, and on walks she will bark, hackle and cower away.

I would say her start in life was far from perfect. Before twelve weeks old she probably never encountered other dogs apart from her own mother and litter mates, and will not have been exposed to friendly people and children, nor things like vacuum cleaners. When it’s left this late, it is hard to catch up. It is very likely that her mother was also an anxious and timid dog and that her genetics were not ideal – puppies are usually friendly and confident, but Bella was scared when they fetched her.

I have been to a great number of anxious, timid dogs – and dogs that round people up and nip – quite of a few of them Border Collies.

Today, the next day, I have received an email: ‘This morning was wonderful. We followed your instructions……..Bella was calm and we were also. What a great start’. I had been suggested by another client, and it’s always very rewarding to hear that I, to quote, ‘could not have been more highly recommended’.

With a mix of practical common sense, understanding things from the dog’s point of view and changing the owners’ behaviour accordingly, big changes can happen – given time.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.