At age 11 I left the familiarity of my small town primary for a large inner city high school.

I was the only pupil from my hometown to attend and stuck out like a donkey in the Grand National.

I was overwhelmed by the raucous behaviour of so many streetwise city kids and my mother, who accompanied me on my first day, was distraught.

I hated it and within a week I wanted to leave.

On the second week my father took me to school.

Spotting a gang of kids playing football in the schoolyard my dad remarked how desperately uneven the sides were.

Waving away my reluctance he ordered: “Get yerself in there and strengthen that defence,” so I did.

I was quite good at soccer and blended in without a ripple.

I played with the same bunch every lunchtime and soon made it onto the school team. My dad’s confidence rubbed off on me and by half term I was just another kid in the playground.

It works exactly the same way with nervous dogs. You have to give them your confidence.

You cannot rehabilitate a troubled dog with affection alone.

In order for dogs (or humans) to overcome their fears they must face them with practical support.

But you must set the standard. Head held high, shoulders back and totally relaxed.

When a dog is stressed he must draw his strength from the people and/or other dogs around him.

If they are stressed, frustrated or anxious it simply amplifies his own unbalanced behaviour.

By The Dogfather