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.