Layla is a 9-month-old Springer Spaniel that lives with Jackie, her husband and their two kids.
They have had Layla since a puppy but as she has grown older she has become fearful of strangers and barks at anyone that enters the house and even those walking past the house. With the right training we are hoping that Layla can encounter new people in a more positive way.
The thing that worries Layla is strangers, so we needed to make sure that visitors to the house were safe and at the same time avoid further reinforcement of her aggressive response.
During her rehabilitation Layla's only contact with strangers was in our controlled sessions. We started by making visitors appear less threatening to her, by asking them to come in and sit down whilst Layla was in another room eating a tasty treat. If Layla was calm, she was let into the room and the visitor was asked to sit very still, sideways on, so that they weren’t looking directly at her.
To begin with they didn’t move, simply sitting with their arms by their side and not speaking to Layla. As long as Layla was happy with this her owner dropped treats for her to find, so that she associated people coming to the house with something nice!
Over time we increased the scariness of the visitor by asking them to begin move slightly, until eventually (over many sessions) they could give her treats, stand up and even walk around the room without Layla reacting.