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Pawsitivtrainr, Dog Trainer
Category: Dog Training
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Experience:  35+ years Training Dogs
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Our golden named Bella is 7. She has never been allowed on

Customer Question

Our golden named Bella is 7. She has never been allowed on the furniture. She is very scared of storms. One night she got on our bed during a storm. Now she wants to get up there even when there is no storm. She is keeping us from sleeping by shaking the bed pantting. She gets her feelings her very easily. She has her own bed and I even put a small sofa thing at the foot of our bed to sleep on and be close to us. She uses it to get up on the bed. Before that she was tearing up our bed spreads trying to pull herself up on the bed. Not sure what to do anymore.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 month ago.

Hello and thank you for your question. I am a Veterinary Nurse with over 15 years experience and I have assisted in the care of many pets with this particular medical concern. It would be my pleasure to assist you today. Is it possible for me to obtain some additional information from you about your companion?

1) Is Bella currently on or has she ever been on any medication to help with storm anxiety?
2) If so, please list what it was and how long it was used.
3) Has a thunder shirt been tried yet?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I thought I answered this last night? Maybe it didn't go?
Yes, we have tried the thunder shirt. I give her NaturVet Quiet Moments Calming Aid plus Melatonin. I've given it to her off and on for the last year.
Last night the weather was fine and she still got on the bed.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 month ago.

Yes, it doesn't appear that it had come through if you replied last night.

Are the main sources of worry her behavior during the storms and also the fact that she is getting on the bed without permission?

Did I also understand correctly that no prescription medications have yet been tried?

Has Bella had any formal training? Also, has she ever been kennel trained?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
the behavior during storms and fireworks also. And her getting on bed which she has never done before the last few months.
Yes, no prescription meds have been tried. She did have formal training for three weeks when she was a puppy. She did get in her kennel at night and when we left the house for years. About three years ago she stopped wanting to get in it. We thought it was too small for her even tho it was a XL. She was chewing on her leg (bleeding)when she was in it. We got her a new bed in our bedroom for her where she has slept for years.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 month ago.

The first thing I want to mention is that her behavior is suggestive of anxiety as well as the storm/firework fear. One thing you should most certainly talk to your vet about is using medication for these fears. I highly recommend alprazolam. It is prescription but it is one of the best medications that I have seen used for these types of fears. It tends to smooth a dog's reactions to these and is typically given and hour or two before the onset of the fireworks or storm activity. Many dogs will have behavioral changes even before storms begin and if she's one of them then she can have a dose of medication to help with anxiety when those behaviors start.

I cannot impress enough the importance of setting boundaries within the home. By the sound of it, she's been allowed to convey her preference to you and your family (I don't want to be in the kennel, I don't want to stay in my bed, I want to be in your bed, etc) and it is progressively getting worse because boundaries are not set. Although it does sound like she was exhibiting anxious behavior, it's working through these and not simply allowing a pet to do as they wish simply because of their behavior otherwise. This, in a different example, is much like a parent allowing their child to sleep with them because the child feels more secure there. Although this is not harmful behavior for a single night or two, it can easily develop into dependance and eventually it becomes next to impossible to get the child not only to stay in their bed but to sleep in their bed as well. That's what needs to happen with Bella: she MUST have boundaries set and everyone in the family must adhere to them. There are quiet a few situations where passive boundaries will lead to anxious behavior in dogs. Dogs do quite well with firm boundaries because they have an assertive owner (assertive does not mean aggressive or mean, but simply one who has an expectation of the dog and expects the dog to meet the expectation).

I would urge you to begin training immediately for "off" which should be rewarded when Bella gets on the bed or attempts to get on the bed. She should be redirected to her bed or other area that is worthy of your satisfaction and then given a treat. Some owners like to use clicker training for this method because they can click on the correct behavior and mark that for their pet. This often makes for fast training when the dog learns exactly what the behavior is that they should be doing (we click for positive behaviors and not negative, always aim to reward what she is doing right and not punish what she's doing incorrectly). It would also be worthwhile to instill more boundaries for her all over, but this is open to you and your family on what can be done. Whatever you choose, you MUST stick to your guns. If getting on the bed is not tolerated, do not permit it to happen. Correct her and direct her elsewhere at the first sign of her getting on the bed. If she's apt to get on your bed when you are not at home or not in bed, close the bedroom door. Do not permit her to have access to self-rewarding behavior when you are gone. Prevent everything that you can when working on behavior modification. If you do wish to continue to other areas of her life, I recommend the Nothing In Life is Free approach which sets firm boundaries. Here's a good explanation of NILIF and anxious dogs:

Let me know if I can help further.

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