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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19663
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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Starting about 8 weeks ago, my 11 year old Bichon has been

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Starting about 8 weeks ago, my 11 year old Bichon has been having extreme issues at night and espically when it rains. She becomes extremely nervous, shakes uncontrollably and wakes us up. The behavior starts usually between midnight and 2 am. Rain, any time now causes uncontrollable shaking. She starts to scratch us and calming her down takes hours. Every night the behavior starts and my wife and I are at wits end. Neither of us have slept in weeks. Any ideas?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi Sir or Madam,
My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
This may be related to a condition called called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) and has been seen in dogs much younger than yours. 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. Some people refer to it as Sundowners since frequently owners start seeing changes in sleeping patterns and the behavior seems worse at night.
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 frequently become anxious in situations where they previously didn't such as noises. Some develop noise phobia which seems likely in this case. A dap collar might help a little. It uses pheromones that mimic the ones produced by nursing dogs to calm their pups. It is proven helpful for noise phobias and other anxiety type issues.
Dogs are also opportunistic and when they find behavior that gets them attention they will repeat it to get the attention again. I'm just mentioning this as it does happen. I think CDS is more likely and worth checking out. You might also start crating her in a different room so you can get some sleep. While she may be anxious, when you comfort her, you are providing her with positive reinforcement for the behavior. It is actually better to ignore the behavior. You might also try some benadryl at night at a dosage of 1-2mg per pound every 8 hours. Benadryl often has a sedative type effect on dogs and may help her rest easier. Your vet may also prescribe xanax to help as well.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you need more information or clarification, please reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you are satisfied, please take the opportunity to rate.