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Bedtime problems

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by JudyN, Oct 30, 2020.

  1. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Bedtime routine - I let Jasper out for a pee and then head up to bed to read for going on an hour. Jasper either comes up with me, has a chicken strip and settles on his bed, or goes back to his bed in the front room (sometimes he'll come up with me, have his chicken strip and go downstairs again).

    OH comes up an hour later. If Jasper is downstairs he'll either come up with him or stay downstairs (in which case he usually wants to come in with us in the early hours).

    The problem - J is fine when I go up, but if he's in the front room when OH gets up off the sofa, he'll bark and growl at him, seemingly not wanting him to get up. This isn't a new behaviour, but it seems to be escalating - he was particularly bad last night, possibly because there had been a few fireworks earlier. It's not sleep aggression, because he'll carry on for a while. He's always been a dog for whom fear/anxiety can transfer to real aggression, and we've managed to 'fix' just about every circumstance apart from this one - so we do have to be careful. Sometimes I can just read him the riot act, but last night it didn't have much effect - I ended up coming down and inviting him into the kitchen for a bit of kibble.

    Any ideas why he might be doing this? The best I can think of is that he wants to sleep downstairs and would really like OH to stay down there with him. I have a few ideas for possible strategies - OH saying 'garden' or 'kitchen' to try to give J an extra bedtime step he might enjoy. We could insist on him settling somewhere other than the front room after I've gone up, but from past experience he'll whine, and whine, and whine......
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Maybe he is a little trigger stacked with the fireworks?

    I always like the line of least resistance, make it a non-issue wherever you can; so putting in the extra step would be my choice. No fuss, no drama, everybody wins.
     
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  3. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Yes, resistance is futile with this one ;)

    The difficulty is not triggering that oh-so-suspicious mind, that is so tuned into our body language he knows what we're thinking before we do. OH is going to try a few dummy-runs, closing his PC lid shortly after I've gone up and J has settled down, standing up, sitting down... maybe giving treats in the process, though again, J will suspect we're trying to fob him off.

    Letting him out into the garden might work, but then he'll be down there for half an hour barking at the 'monsters', which usually is only an issue late at night.

    He's still a little twitchy today - said hello to a woman we passed who held out her hand (low down, close to her body) for him to sniff, asking if he could smell her dogs, and he had a momentary recoil/lip curl. Turns out both her dogs were unneutered males. And he gave a couple of dogs dirtier looks than I'd usually expect. Shame we're only at the start of firework season.
     
  4. Hemlock

    Hemlock Well-Known Member Registered

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    You might try some shreddy "toys" to let him dispel tension with repetitive action. Of course, being Jasper, this might not work.......
     
  5. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    He'd probably ignore them - he has to be in the mood to want to tear something apart. Though he does like removing limbs from rope toys.....
     
  6. Kontiki

    Kontiki New Member Registered

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    Where do you get shredded toys please?
     
  7. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Things like cardboard boxes - you can encourage your dog to rip into them by putting small treats in smaller boxes or twists of paper inside. It can get messy, but they're free!
     
  8. Finsky

    Finsky Well-Known Member Registered

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    Does he like to chew in general and spend good amount of time with a long lasting chew?

    Last couple of weeks we've had quite amount of fireworks going on. Where as mine are not too bothered until they let the proper bangers go off...that's when the 'fun' starts :rolleyes:
    I just got some deer legs for our girls to chew...added to that action I put classic music on and they are properly zoned out to take much noticed of what goes on outside. Seem like these legs are like drug for them! :D
    Would something like that work with Jasper?
     
  9. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Sadly, no, Finsky, because of his guarding tendencies. Give him anything that high value and he assumes that everyone and their dog (actually he knows a dog would have more sense) is out to get it. This is a dog who when still a puppy, would bring a rawhide over to chew on the floor in front of the sofa, and then growl at us because we were too near, even though we never took food off him.

    He's not that bad with fireworks, in that he knows how to self-calm - he'll ask OH to vacate his sofa so Jasper can go on it (problems with sharing sofas is another quirk...), and once he's on it he settles down. But the fireworks might just have pushed his anxiety levels up enough last night for bedtime to be problematic. Generally, though, he looks completely relaxed in the evening till OH shuts his pooter lid and thinks about getting up.

    OH is going to try a few bedtime dummy runs tonight and see if he can get J to associate him getting up with biscuit time. Fingers crossed.
     
  10. Finsky

    Finsky Well-Known Member Registered

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    Hmm....OH needs to keep computer on then and get pillow on the desk for himself..obvious really, and Jaspers problems are solved! :D
     
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  11. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    It's a laptop on the sofa - but that's even better, he can just lie down and sleep there! I'm sure Jasper will be happy....
     
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  12. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Blimmin' stresshound:mad:

    With a bit of desensitisation/counterconditioning, last night Jasper did no more than give a knee-jerk dirty look when he closed his laptop lid and got up, so hopefully in time the kneejerk response will go. But I really wish he'd go back to sleeping in with us, as he sleeps much more soundly then. And last night, there was a hoolie blowing outside. Approximately every hour he'd bark, or yip, or whine, and I'd have to go onto the landing and call down to him to settle back down, that nothing was happening, and so on. I did let him out at one point, but he didn't need to go - he just wanted to stand there watching the trees whipping back and forth.

    It's like having babies all over again :confused:
     
  13. Tinytom

    Tinytom Well-Known Member Registered

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    My lurcher girl who looks alot like Jasper has started funny night time behaviour and gets stressed when i go out in the morning (im only gone 3 hrs max) she also has 4 other dogs with her ....she is 11 this week so i put it down to older age ...us humans get funny ways as we get older too ...:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
     
  14. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    It did cross my mind that he's getting a bit more doolally with age, Tinytom. He was pretty doolally to start with!
     
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  15. JacksDad

    JacksDad Active Member Registered

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    As you know, knowing the why is often not possible. I am also learning, it isn't absolutely necessary to know either in order to "do something". Knowing why can be nice, can be helpful, but since we often rarely do truly know.... At least for me, it has been a great stress relief to know that not knowing is not a road block. something can still be done. We can change what something predicts, thus it's association which changes the emotional response. We can also teach alternate behaviors, and sometimes incompatible behaviors.

    My two cents, because Jasper is getting older, and has always had some fear playing into why Jasper does what Jasper does, a very safe starting point is change Jasper's association with the event that triggers the barking/reaction that is unwanted.

    If there are any noises that startle or trigger "on alert" with Jasper, the sound the laptop lid makes could be close. Thus when heard, triggers the response you have observed.

    if there is a way to soften the sound or change it, you could make the sound at a level that doesn't trigger the unwanted response, and a bit of his fav food follows the noise...wash, rinse, repeat. Gradually increase the intensity of the noise until it is just a normal closing of the lid. possible place to start.

    BUT... you might also have to do some detective work, the lid may just be something of coincidence. An assumption. it might be something else entirely. The key is in what happens just before just before the unwanted response. The lid closing might be the only thing, but it also might one of several things.

    The why...might never be possible, but figuring out what triggers and what reinforces is, and both are useful data points to work from.
     
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  16. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Thanks Jacksdad :) I think the laptop is a red herring really - it's just a signal to Jasper that OH is about to go to bed. If he closes the lid earlier in the evening Jasper doesn't react. He also responds to the sound of me taking my glasses off and closing their arms in preparation for bed, but in that case it's a happy response as he likes to go out for his last wee. So the real problem is that he doesn't want OH to go to bed, and he's very tuned in to our behaviours and the sounds we make.

    I wonder if part of the problem is that we had been cajoling and bribing him to get him upstairs (as he sleeps better there, which means that we do to). When bribing stopped working, we played a game of hide and seek, 'hiding' his bedttime treat in the bedroom saying 'Find it!' He might be feeling grumpy about bedtime as even though he fell for our ruse, he didn't like the pressure put on him to come upstairs when he was quite happy where he was.

    But yes, as you say - regardless of the reason, we need to change his associations with 'Dad going to bed' and the signs that he's going to head upstairs.

    Last night, just to be contrary, he did choose to come upstairs when I went up and spend the night with us:)
     
  17. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    ... and mulling over the relevance of the 'why' - if Jasper doesn't like being left downstairs on his own but doesn't want to come upstairs, then whatever OH does before bed will always be the predictor of something negative. If it is something as simple as his downstairs bed being next to the radiator (though the upstairs one is in a cosy alcove) then we could either get a heat pad for the upstairs one or turn the heating off an hour earlier. Though we would still have to work on the 'triggers' of laptop closing, OH standing up and so on, as they could still trigger a negative emotional response before 'Oh good, I get to go to my warm upstairs bed' kicks in.
     
  18. JacksDad

    JacksDad Active Member Registered

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    hummm. let me think on this.
     
  19. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    My dog is crazy!:confused:

    For the past two weeks or so, he's chosen to come up to bed with me and sleep in the bedroom. But on the nights he has stayed down with OH, OH has been getting up from the sofa a couple of times and giving him a biscuit. Naturally, Jasper knows which is the dummy run and when OH actually plans to go to bed, so only barks on the latter, but has definitely been improving, with it becoming more of a token bark.

    Last night, after Jasper had settled in the bedroom with me, he decided to go back downstairs and settle on his bed down there again. When OH got up to go to bed, Jasper calmly took his biscuit. OH turned off the telly, turned off the switches on the other side of the room, as usual... and then Jasper barked! It's almost like 'Oh yeah, I nearly forgot, I'm meant to bark now'.

    I'd still love to know what's going on in his brain, but he's certainly improving, which is the main thing.
     
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  20. Finsky

    Finsky Well-Known Member Registered

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    :D:D 'curiosity killed the cat' comes to mind...it could be dangerous knowledge! ;)
     

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