Dogs Life is an Australian Magazine just for people who are crazy about dogs! For a little over a year I have been the ‘Agony Aunt’ for the ask a trainer column. I enjoy explaining how behaviour works to people (you may have guessed) and the ways we can go about changing it. Here are a few to help you see the way some of us dog trainers think!
Dear Dogs Life,
My dog, a female Dalmatian cross, is almost three years old, and I think she has an anxiety disorder. We got her from a lady that didn’t socialise her as a puppy, which I think may have contributed to her condition. Whenever she is in public, or in the car, or somewhere new she whines and yawns. She will sit practically on top of me when we are out at the park and whines constantly with her tail between her legs. When another dog comes up to her, she snaps but not aggressively. I think she is frightened. What can I do to help her anxiety?
Oh Shannen, my heart aches for you and your Dally cross. You paint the picture of her behaviour so well and from what you describe I agree it sounds very much like a fear based behaviour. You are right also to assume the lack of good experiences at a young age, when the brain is set up to learn safe from unsafe more than at any other time in an animal’s life, including humans.