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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19661
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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We have a Bernese mountain dog. She is 9yrs old but young at

Customer Question

We have a Bernese mountain dog. She is 9yrs old but young at heart. We have never allowed her upstairs except on request on a few occasions but only for a few minutes. She used to sleep in our cellar room with the door closed where she took herself through the day when she was too hot or needed quiet. When we came home from work, she would always come up from the cellar. We moved house one and a half years ago and we do not have a cellar now. However she has lots of places to sleep downstairs, (we have tiled floors and a rug) and has done for sometime. She has started around the last 6months or so coming upstairs, sleeping on the landing (tiles) or in a spare bedroom (on carpet). Lately however she has been going in our bathroom sleeping anywhere, on bath mats or in the shower part etc. We don't send her back downstairs i just ignore her when go to the toilet in the night. We have put a chair on the stairs for a couple of days to stop her but as soon as we move it she's back upstairs. She does know that she shouldn't be there but is consistent on trying.
Please help, as I just want to understand why she does this. We don't want her upstairs, but maybe she wants to be closer or it's too hot downstairs? She has become more terrified with certain noises, ie. Fireworks, car doors, any bangs outside even rain, wind and thunder.
Thank you.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. She was used to sleeping in a cool environment since basements are almost always cooler than other areas of the house. Since you mention tile and bathrooms which tend to be tiled or porcelain for tubs, it sounds like she is seeking other flooring that is also cool. This is probably a preference. Dogs are opportunistic. If they can get away with something and the owner does not reprimand them, they will continue to do that same behavior and even push the situation further if it is something they really want. So this could be what is happening. She prefers the cool flooring and that is where she is finding it. If there are tiled bathrooms down stairs, then perhaps she does want to be close to you as well or it is cooler upstairs. That would be more difficult to determine. Dogs also tend to find cool areas to lay when they don't feel well. Given her age, a senior checkup wouldn't be a bad idea just to ensure she is in good health. She is elderly now. She may also be experiencing a condition called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) and has been seen in dogs younger than your dog. There is a wonderful site that explains it well and also explains how to document your dog's behavior and discuss it with your vet. The good news is that there is a drug called L-Selegeline (Anipryl (R)) which has been recently approved for use in the clinical indication of cognitive dysfunction (CDS) in dogs. Read this site for other drug choices. Please see this site for more information and other causes that may exhibit the same symptoms. Dogs experience a lot of behavioral changes with CDS though often they are gradual. They will ask to go out and come in without going or come in and ask to go back out immediately. Sleep patterns may be disrupted as well. Noise phobias may also be part of CDS if they didn't bother her before. One thing that you might try is a DAP collar. They produce pheromones that mimic the ones produced by a nursing mom to calm her pups. It has proven to be helpful with anxiety issues. Another treatment is Melatonin which you can read about here. It has been shown to work well for noise phobias and other anxiety issues. the stairs, you might use a walk through gate like the one shown below. An indoor fence system would also work well. The transmitter is placed where you do not want the dog going. The dog wears a collar that reprimands the dog automatically if they approach the transmitter. It is either a small shock or spray reprimand. Since it happens when you are not around, the dog learns not to enter that area. I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have. If you are satisfied, I hope you will take this opportunity to rate my reply .
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. I will get back to you or rate you over the weekend. I need to travel to my mum, she's very poorly and haven't had time last night to check out the links.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
That's fine. The system automatically sends a lot of messages in the expert's name.