Example case - Immy
Immy came to live with Caroline and Toby when she was just 3 weeks old after being rescued from a family that were neglecting her. She matured into an easy going and gentle dog. She loved her walks but never strayed far, preferring to stay close to her owner and always coming when called. It therefore came as a complete surprise when one day Immy bolted off twice mid walk and wouldn't come back. Caroline described her behaviour as totally out of character and felt she was showing strong signs of being afraid of something all the way back to the car. Thinking it was an isolated incident Caroline took Immy out again to the same place a few days later. This time she ran straight back to the car within a few minutes. Caroline therefore tried walking her closer to home instead, but her fearful behaviour started to spread until she was showing signs of fear even when being walked in her home estate. Caroline therefore decided it was time to get some help. Although the trigger for the first incident was never identified, it became clear that Immy's worry that it may recur had caused her fear to spread to more and more situations. Walks had to be suspended for a short time to prevent further deterioration or the risk she may run off again and get lost or injured. We then developed a programme of desensitisation and counter conditioning to gradually rebuild her confidence in open spaces, which Caroline patiently followed over a period of a few weeks. Immy is now back to her old self and enjoying her walks with her friends, as can be seen aside (Immy is the brown dog on the right).
"Immy has always loved her walks so when her behaviour changed so dramatically we knew something was really up. Steph gave us advice before she'd even visited to help stop the situation getting any worse. She then gave us the first few steps to follow during her first visit followed up by a written plan a few days later. It was hard work juggling her walks with a toddler and husband with a broken leg to look after but my work with her was soon rewarded when she started to show little improvements. Its taken us a few months to get to where we are now but I'm so pleased to say we're back enjoying long family walks and Immy's thoroughly enjoying her rediscovered love of time off her lead. Steph's support throughout the entire time was priceless".