In my early 20s I started having panic attacks. I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea what was happening to me.

I developed a fear of large spaces, swiftly followed by fear of open spaces then small places.

In the end there wasn’t a space I did like.

I stopped going into shops, theatres and cinemas as any sort of public place simply initiated more panic attacks.

I was desperate to know what was wrong with me.

Relatives, friends and neighbours visited expressing how sorry they were for my predicament.

They meant well but if anything it just made me feel worse.

Finally I was introduced to a doctor who recognised my symptoms, explaining in detail what was happening to me.

With his help and guidance and a good deal of perseverance I rehabilitated myself and ended two years of misery.

I’m telling you this because I meet so many dogs receiving oodles of sympathy and fussing when they are desperate for practical help to overcome their fears and anxieties.

The only way for a dog (or a person) to recondition their responses is to face their fears in a safe controlled environment.

Dragging a terrified dog around a park full of off-lead dogs is more likely to intensify his symptoms.

The dog’s rehabilitation must be carefully supervised to ensure he has nothing but good experiences.

If your dog is fearful of people the same applies. People who greet him must remain quiet and allow your dog to sniff around them. No touch, no talk and above all no eye contact.

Eventually curiosity will get the better of your dog and he will come to visitors instead of them descending upon him which is completely counter-productive.

Remember you cannot rehabilitate a troubled dog with affection any more than I could be cured by the sympathy of my friends, neighbours and relatives.

Calm, clear practical help banished my fears and it will do the same for your dog.

Trust me...I’m a dogtor.

Go to my website for more help or text me on 07590 560012.

By The Dogfather