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New Dog, Separation anxiety, need help.

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by messi_1984, May 22, 2020.

  1. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    Hi, Ive never had a dog with any kind of anxiety, well any that showed any signs. But last week I became the owner of a dogue de bordeaux, 18month old, showing signs of anxiety, pacing crying and panting when leaving the room etc. But after only 2 days getting him used to his new home, we had an accident where a car hit him and broke a leg. So to add to it all he had to spend 4 days in a vet and has had an operation etc, so after all this when I put him to bed, the crying and banging the door starts but he has started to chew at the door frame. I have started to leave him alone for 5 or 10 mins at a time to get him used to being alone but at night time i cant do it so any advice to help him settle at night? ive tried putting in a treat in a kong so it keeps him busy for a while, and with his blankets etc so he has fimilar smell. but really want to fix the anxiety and have a happy confident dog. In his past home he had the behaviour of always following owners around, they re-enforced this, not thinking its adding to the problem. He is very responsive to training, in a few small training sessions he has went from snapping to taking treats from hand very gently, and also sitting for treats. If you have any advice at all it is welcome especially for the scratching and biting the door frame at night.

    Thank you
     
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  3. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    The poor lad - he was removed from everything he knew, then had what must have been a terrifying time at the vets :(This is really, really early days and his stress levels will be very high. Please, for now at least, let him sleep in the same room as you. Being scared all night every night won't allow him to become a confident, secure dog, whereas knowing he is safe (it might take him a while to achieve this) will. If you really don't want him in your bedroom for any reason, then you should sleep in the same room as his.

    This doesn't have to be forever - later, when he feels secure, you can gradually work on getting him to sleep in his own room. But you may find it easier to let him sleep in your bedroom permanently.
     
  4. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    thanks for the reply, he has issues with going up the stairs even before the accident, and the vet has said no climbing on furniture etc, he has another 6 to 8 weeks of no exercise so its hard to tire him out etc, the reason I cant sleep down stairs is I sometimes get a bad back, and sleeping on a couch isnt the best for me, and due to the current climate time off work isnt the best. During the day he has people that look after him so hes never alone and no issues other than following people around, doesnt bother anyone but im just trying to put the steps in that will have a confident dog down the line when everyone goes back to work and he will have longer periods alone
     
  5. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Can someone else sleep downstairs, or can you buy an inflatable mattress? I completely agree with Judy, the way to make him stop being anxious at night is to build his confidence by being there to reassure him.

    You mentioned ”we” in your post, can someone else sleep downstairs?

    For the following around, you can play the Flitting Game once his leg is up to it - it's described about ⅔ of the way down this page.

    https://www.thecanineconsultants.co.uk/post/separation-anxiety-fact-vs-fiction
     
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  6. JBP

    JBP Member Registered

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    Hi , What JudyN has said to me is sound advice, keep him close to you all the time the poor chap has been through it, no wonder he is stressed PTSD, think how you might feel, he is now part of your family, all the love, affection and closeness will make for a very strong bond, in time he will start to feel safe and secure and you will end up with a true and loyal companion. Be close to him 24/7 and eventually time will heal him.
     
  7. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    thanks for the advice, I live with my girlfriend, we are going to look into a way one of us could sleep downstairs to help him. My question would be would this lead to issues down the line? like worse issues at night after being used to having someone with him? I understand the treat one problem at a time method and any advice is welcome. With the added issue of the leg its stressful enough to try and keep him off it and let it heal, and then this issue. Im good at training dogs to listen to commands but this is a whole new thing, again thanks for the advice.
     
  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Definitely not. At the moment, he needs the reassurance of someone being there - you cannot fix anxiety by allowing anxiety to happen; nobody was cured of a fear of snakes by being thrown into a snake pit.

    Rather than making him clingy, your presence will reassure him that there is nothing to be afraid of, and that will build his confidence.

    When you do start to move though, do it in stages - a few nights in the corridor with the door open, a few nights further again. If he gets unsettled at any stage you have gone too fast and need to go back a step for a few more nights.

    And do have a look at that flitting game.

    Another thing you could teach in daytime is a ”settle” cue so you can direct him back to his bed once he knows it.

     
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  9. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    ok, Ill start it tonight, during the day, as most of the time someone is here with him, good thing at the moment with his leg, but is it ok to leave the room and enter and not greet him until he settles down? or is this also adding to the problem?
     
  10. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    I don't think delaying greeting him does any good at all - it would be like walking into your house after work and not saying hello to your family - just odd behaviour that makes it hard for him to understand you.
     
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  11. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    Really, I thought it helped him stay in a clam state? like hes not being rewarded for being in an excited state
     
  12. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    It's a matter of degree - walk into the room, say 'Hi', maybe a stroke if he enjoys it, but all very low key. No 'Woo hoo, I'm back again' and cuddles. Dogs are very social animals and they know full well that walking into a room and not acknowledging the other dog/person is a bit weird.

    It might take a while to get him used to sleeping on his own, but by then you'll be working with a calmer, more secure dog, not one whose head is already a mess right now.

    One day, almost a week after surgery under anaesthetic for an injury, my dog had a complete meltdown when hubby and I tried to leave the house together, using menaces to try to stop us leaving. The next weekend, he was back to normal. So don't underestimate the effects that his experiences, and possibly even the drugs, would have had on his brain.

    Would you be able to put a small single mattress on the floor where he sleeps? That might be the most comfortable option, but you know your back best.
     
  13. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    I sort of see where you are coming from, in that we ignore behaviours we don't want and reward behaviours we do.

    But, there are a couple of small but important exceptions.

    One is where the behaviour is self rewarding like barking or obsessive licking or chewing for example - ignoring these doesn't work, because they are self rewarding, the dog gets something out of the act of doing them iykwim.

    Two (and this is what I think is happening here) is where the behaviour is on the back of a very profound emotion, anxiety here. You can't reinforce his anxiety by rewarding it with attention. This is @JudyN 's example, and it's a great way of explaining it; supposing you were afraid of spiders, if I rewarded you with a £5 every time you saw one, you wouldn't become more afraid. If I held your hand, you might become less afraid.

    I hope I have explained that ok.

    I think what you mustn't lose sight of here is the massive, massive change he has just undergone. Comfort him, be there for him, be his advocate and protector now and you will have the opportunity to build a lovely strong bond. The courage to be alone will come later.
     
  14. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    Great advice, thank you very much, as ive always had dogs from pups, and never had an issue in a bad accident, I think it has been hard on all of us. Just want the best for him, so Ill find a way to sleep downstairs for a wile, and try and get his confidence up before starting to move him into a room on his own. Thanks for helping will be starting some clicker training to try and keep the boredom away, but this big brute just wants to play lol. So any advice to keep a huge dog to stay still and rest his leg is gold at the moment. Thanks again will update and if I need advice I will post under this.

    thank you
     
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  15. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Do you need advice on clicker training? I wrote a piece a few months ago that I can share if it would help.
     
  16. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    Ive done it before with my last dog, and read a few things, but yeah please send the link cant hurt, maybe pick up a few things.
     
  17. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    The clicker is a sound marker that you use to click/mark the exact moment he does what you ask - like a snapshot - and also promises a reward for doing that good thing. For training yourself in the timing, watch a tv programme and every time a character uses a particular word, click the clicker. This will train you to react fast. Then charge the clicker for him. Like I said, it marks the moment in time that he does something you want. It also promises him a reward. So simultaneously click and give a treat. Do that five times then have a break. Then repeat that five times over the day (so five times five). Now he knows that click = reward.

    Now putting the two together - teach something, like a nose touch (at home, away from distractions; that can come later). Sit down and hold the clicker in one hand and a treat in the other closed hand, at his nose level. He will nudge the treat hand, as soon as he makes contact, click, then release the treat. Do the five times five, or more repetitions if necessary. Then (and this is after a few days of practice) hold your closed hand without a treat. When he nose touches it, click and reward with a treat from a table, your pocket or wherever. Again do your five times five repetitions. Now he has learned to nudge your hand for a reward.

    Then you can start to put a word to it, to later ask for this behaviour when you want it - like ”touch” - and you can practice at least five times five with that.

    The clicker is good because it is immediate and the sound is consistent - your dog knows straight away he has done the right thing and a reward will follow.
     
  18. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    Just a little update, I have a travel bed coming tonight so that meant that last night was spent alone, but decided to do it different. Instead of putting him into a different room to sleep, I just let him sleep in the living room. This is his normal area, only reason he couldnt sleep there before is due to fear of destruction. So he was left alone all doors open, access to old bedroom kitchen so all access to water and no door to scratch. After leaving to go to bed no noise at all, just a few mins of standing at the bottom of the stairs and then zero noise other than snoring. Came down this morning, and he was on the couch flat out sleeping. Maybe this could really help the issues? and if so how the hell do I train him to sleep on the rug and not the couch lol. Again thanks for the help.

    ps I will be sleeping downstairs with him for a few nights at least to see how he gets on.
     
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  19. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    I would see if he'll be happy sleeping in the living room without you over the next couple of nights - if he is, it'll save you the trouble of sleeping downstairs with him and then needing to wean him off this later.

    Is there any reason why he can't sleep on the couch at night? You could cover it with a throw each evening, and dogs are pretty good at learning rules like 'I can go on it at night but not when Mum & Dad are around'. This could be the perfect solution.
     
  20. messi_1984

    messi_1984 New Member Registered

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    only reason he isnt allowed on the couch is the vet said no climbing stairs or on furniture, until the 2nd xray, its hard to keep him just walking as he wont go to the toilet with a lead on so i have to let him off for a min and he walks and does his thing in he garden but Honestly I dont have pet insurance and the cost of 1600 in vet bills so far is alot for me, so im really trying to stick to the rules so I dont have another operation for cost and another vet stay for him, during the day when i leave him he never goes on to the couch so I do think its just a night time i can get away with it thing. Might try and put items on the couch to stop him climbing on. so long way to say its a medical reason lol.
     
  21. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Ah, OK - that makes sense. Another solution might be to put some sofa cushions in front of the sofa to make a step up, and/or remove the cushions from the sofa to make it lower (pic of when I did this for my pup: IMG_3862). But you might feel that this is still a step too much and yes, you do need to stick to the vet's advice!
     

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