While walking, his backpack helps him focus on his job- and we have trained him to walk closely by our side and sit whenever we stop walking. He usually doesn't have any trouble on this part of the walk- even though he used to jump and bark whenever someone ran by or children shouted. The gentle leader really helps get his attention quickly because it raises his muzzle towards our faces.
However, while we feel that this helps Bruno feel calmer on his walk and definitely scares our neighbors less, we still feel like walks and new experiences make him super nervous and anxious and that anxiety is always ready to bubble up from under the surface if someone startles him.
(Bruno at ACC-Manhattan)
Children of a certain age scare him with their spontaneous nature and someday I want him to be comfortable around our own kids. (Luckily babies don't scare him at all- he even licked a girl's bare foot in a stroller in the elevator once.) Usually he doesn't mind when we leave him in the kitchen during the day- he doesn't seem to whine or have separation anxiety. I think he feels comfortable there because it is dark and quiet and no one bothers him. His fear of sleeping alone has really improved and now we can kick him out of bed at night without him peeing on the floor out of fear.
I'm sure if he was left out in a large area, he would be very destructive when left alone- but having the kitchen to himself really seems to be the answer. He is comfortable with strangers after the second time he meets them (one time he barked at a friend every time he saw him for a whole weekend- one time even peeing himself out of fear- but the next weekend when he saw him, he wasn't scared at all.)
The only thing we need to fix is how Bruno experiences new things. want to be able to sooth him and help him enjoy new experiences and places and people. Today he got upset when a security guard outside out building clicked his pen a few times. Bruno barked at him, and proceeded to bark at everyone on the way inside. In other words- something sets off his anxiety and he can't stop.
Since we saw the hives, tears and bleeding ears, we have been thinking about bringing him to the vet to have him put on anxiety medication. We have used non-medical techniques to manage his anxiety and keep him calm and happy and for the most park they have worked- but we don't know how to help this. Apparently, they are meat flavored versions of human anti-depressants. I know if I felt the way he does about the world- I would never want to leave the house, and I don't want him to live like this. With children, you can explain loud noises and scary people- but dogs can't really learn and understand that these things won't hurt them- especially if they have hurt them in the past.
Does anyone know about this or have any suggestions?