My dog is a lab/spaniel mix (from what I can tell, anyways)-two very highly energetic breeds; while I don't think I can speak for the breeds as a whole, my personal experience with both labs and spaniels is that they can exhibit some anxiety issues and nervous behavior.
I also say "my dog" rather than "puppy" (even though she still acts like it whenever there are distractions around, jumping around in circles like the tilt-a-whirl at a carnival); she is seven years old.
It has always been a challenge getting her to walk without pulling on a leash-over the course of the past few years, however, she has gradually gotten better, as both her energy has declined and-I can only assume, despite the inherent anthropomorphization-she has become more comfortable with the routine of walking beside me rather than in front of me. This last has been a result of a long time effort wherein I refuse to continue the walk if she proceeds to walk in front of me, simply waiting until she returns to my side before the walk continues...which can sometimes take a while.
In addition to the leash work, during the course of the last year or so I have started to clicker train her to learn some tricks. While the use of a clicker has not been a cure-all, I believe that it greatly enhanced her understanding and ability to interpret commands. Before starting to train her with the clicker, she understood the basics-sit, stay, come, fetch, down, and drop it.
In just a year, she's learned shake (both paws, independently), lay on your side, heel, spin (for the other direction, the command is "nips"...ha), roll over, to touch objects which are pointed to, crawl, curtsy/bow, and-what I think is utterly amazing-has started to learn object recognition from words.
She is a very smart girl and I'm realizing it more and more; however, there are still situations in which I need to learn how to better manage her and control her stress/anxiety. Most of these situations concern other dogs; some concern rabbits, and others, perhaps, just the wind.
When walking, if she sees/smells/hears another dog, she instantly adopts that facial expression and body posture every dog owner knows means business. All words I utter from that point cease to have any effect on her. She's waiting to take off at the four-legged intruder who has alerted her senses-so much so that even if she hears keys or chains jingling from a distance she may start barking. And then there's the encounter where you try to hold the dog back as the two cross paths...
If we are sitting in a park, she barks at dogs crossing by as well.
Her energy seems to know no bounds-at seven years of age, we can spend hours at the beach or dog park and she still won't stop running around. Typically, this is in the form of fetch (she's the dog at the dog park who pays attention ONLY to the ball).
Anyways, the real issue is that I'm trying to get her to be more comfortable in situations where we might encounter other dogs-whether we are on our walks or sitting in a park. In the absence of dogs and birds and squirrels and rabbits, she usually looks around for something with which she can get me to throw in order to play fetch-if I don't, I suffer the consequences of her incessant whining and barking.
Anybody have any experience with old, anxious dogs?