On creature comforts and learning to cope with a new environment
This is our puppy’s favourite position, curled up on someone’s lap, snoring like a trouper. If we take him anywhere outside of the home, he’s a quaking, nervous wreck.
I appreciate that everything is new and big and scary when you’re a tiny puppy, but I was under the assumption that you have to repeat experiences so they don’t seem scary anymore. Except, we’ve been doing the school run for two weeks now and the little man is not finding the experience any less daunting. In fact, I think he’s beginning to dread it.
The noise of cars passing by, people walking past and stopping to say ‘oh isn’t he lovely, is it a French Bulldog?’ Pushchairs, little kids, big kids, you name it, it’s all becoming too much.
By the time we arrive at school, Barnie is physically shaking, his back legs almost unable to keep him standing. I’m giving him lots of reassurance, believe me (and treats), but it’s not helping to calm his nerves.
Today when I said the usual ‘come one Barnie, let’s go,’ he refused to move from his bed. I had to drag him out of the door and we only got as far as the end of the drive when he sat down and refused to go any further.
He isn’t normally this reluctant and I felt so sorry for him. It occurred to me that if I forced him to do this walk, I was in danger of making matters worse, so I bundled him and my son in the back of the car and drove down to pick up my daughter.
Anyone who knows me will realise that it’s ridiculous to drive to her school, but it took us so long to get Barnie out of the door, that we were well and truly late.
We were told at the puppy training class last week that a puppy needs five minutes of exercise per month of their lives. As Barnie is nearly five months, that’s 20-25 minutes per day. Walking down to school and back is around 20 minutes, so it’s an ideal opportunity for him to get some exercise, fresh air and do any business he needs to do.
It looks like I need to change tact though. Instead of thinking that it’s unfair of him to stay home in his cage whilst I take the children to school, I think Barnie would be happier for that to be the case. What I need to do, I think, is take him to a park, where he might meet other dogs and where it will be traffic free and therefore quieter. He might then begin to realise that going out for a walk can be a fun thing to do.
Any tips you might have for a nervous dog would be most appreciated. He isn’t worried about other dogs, far from it in fact, it’s more to do with people and places.