Lottie is a small Border Collie mix, stretching out on the sofaLittle Lottie is a sweetie. She is a very small Border Collie mix, eighteen months of age. She lives with a couple and their two teenage sons.

Lottie is a stressy little dog, highly reactive to things and easily scared. She is also a brave little dog, constantly facing things that terrify her. She is scared of traffic even if it’s at a distance. She runs away from her lead before leaving the house – because she knows she will have to walk along a road.

Her life is confusing. She is taken to training classes of the old-school ‘domination’ type and her male owner wants a ‘controlled’ dog. There are quite a lot of commands and demands made upon her, whilst also overwhelming (to her), excitable type of hands-on play and affection.

The problem I was called out for is that she fixates and paces around the boys when they are moving about – almost rounding them up. Their response is to be angry, shout at her or order her into her crate. She is a dog that would respond to a whisper, so everything is ‘too much’.

I believe this is not an issue to attack head on, as it is a symptom of other things. She needs less stress and she needs to feel protected. She needs leadership of a type she recognises – calm, quiet and consistent. A leader she can trust not to lead her near ‘danger’. Twice a day she has to face the terror of traffic. I hope they will be able to avoid this altogether for a little while and then slowly work on the problem around her comfort threshold, gradually getting nearer to traffic. It could take a long time.

The rounding up problem, strangely, only happens when the lady is about, but we have a plan!

This little dog is highly intelligent and I feel she needs stimulation of the sort that doesn’t over-excite or put too many demands upon her. Teaching her to use her brain with a clicker will be a good substitute for some of the stuff she is currently getting. Clicker is an art in itself and the timing has to be right.

They want to do what is best for their delightful little dog. I hope they will ease back on the pressure of ‘training’ and ‘discipline’ and let Lottie work things out for herself.