Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Share your favorite training tips, ideas and methods with other Positively members!

Moderators: emmabeth, BoardHost

Liz & Koa
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:05 pm
Location: MA, USA

Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Liz & Koa » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:32 am

Hello,

My friend and her husband adopted a lab. She is six years old, very sweet. Came from a home where she was left in a crate for long periods of time and when she was out she was very distructive. The woman who had her was nice enough to give her up after six years of this sad life. What is wrong with people? Anyway, this couple is no doubt he best thing that has happend to this dog. She gets along great with their other dogs, loves playing in the yard. She is doing basic training and seems good. The odd behavior is, she can be totally fine one minute then she gets up and starts digging at the rug or whatever she is on like she is trying to get out, not just getting up, fluffing her bed and back down. It's like she is panicked and cannot get out, but she just has to walk away if she wanted to. The other thing is she goes to the cellar and lays under the stairs all alone. My friend tries to get her out but she wants to stay. Her ears are back and she will stay there for hours. It seems like she loves my friend, but when her husband is home she stays with him much more.
They have had her about 7 weeks. I think it's a little soon for her to be perfect. She needs to know she is safe and not going anywhere else to live.

I am wondering if the digging could be related to the long time she spent in he crate in the past?

Any input of the strange behavior?

Liz & Koa

User avatar
Nettle
Posts: 10753
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Nettle » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:12 am

Repetitive behaviour releases endorphins, so the digging is likely to be a stress reliever. It could well be that this was all the dog had been able to do in her past life, and it has now become default mode.

You are right - they have only had her a very short time, and we can't undo years of abuse in five minutes. The dog should be left under the stairs when she takes herself there. She should be allowed to come out of her shell in her own time, which will probably be a long time.

She can't love anybody yet. Love is the last thing on the list. She doesn't want it and she can't give it. She needs to feel safe first and that will take a long time. She should be ignored apart from food and exercise. The more your friends back off and leave her, the quicker she will come round - but it still won't be quick, and she may never act like a 'normal' dog.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Liz & Koa
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:05 pm
Location: MA, USA

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Liz & Koa » Sat Aug 03, 2013 6:29 pm

Hi, I shared my post and the reply with my friend. She agreed, but did have a well know trainer who has been around the world and does a lot of work with rescue leagues. He has been at it for 35 years or so. He felt that the dog going into the basement to be alone was not a good thing. The time she is there is getting longer and longer. He feels she is withdrawing and will only get worse, and feels this is not healthy. He suggested that they only allow the dog in the cellar, where she's wants to be, when they are there. Also to tether her to the couch when they are reading or watching television so she can not go hide. The dog had a great week or so then she managed to get into the basement, after a great day, and barricade herself on a shelf behind some paint cans.....very odd.

Again she is the sweetest dog, but has some crazy moments and they seem to happen at night more than during the day.

Any input?
Liz :?

WufWuf
Posts: 1371
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 7:53 am

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by WufWuf » Sat Aug 03, 2013 6:56 pm

Nettle wrote:She can't love anybody yet. Love is the last thing on the list. She doesn't want it and she can't give it. She needs to feel safe first and that will take a long time. She should be ignored apart from food and exercise. The more your friends back off and leave her, the quicker she will come round - but it still won't be quick, and she may never act like a 'normal' dog.
I completely agree with Nettle, she needs to know she can choose to hide if she feels the need. I live with a very nervous dog and she knows that if she hides or even gets into one of her beds I will not persue her or try to stop her. It has gotten to the point when she will often simply pop into a hiddy spot and then pop straight back out again as soon as I turn away.

Above all things this dog needs to feel safe and as much as your friends want to give love it's not what she needs right now. Something safe for their dog is that your friends could try dropping bits of food as they move around her. They should not attempt to interact with her while doing this and it would be ideal if they could just drop food as they move away from the dog. It's a nice way to build positive associations with zero pressure for the dog. and it also increase her "happy" moments which will go along way to helping her feel safe.

I just going to clairfy they should not tether her or prevent access to her safe place, if they do her stress levels will increase and she will engange in other behaviours to release it (such as the digging) and may start exhibiting more damaging behaviours (such as chewing on her paws). It would also be a good idea for them to mention this to the trainer and perhaps look for someone with more experience of fearful dogs if they want in person advice on this issue.

Please ask your friend to provide comfy beds in the spots she chooses to hide in and as an added bonus for their dog they should not wash these beds too often and when they do they should wash them without detergent so that they still smell "right" to her :wink: .
Operant conditioning rocks but classical conditioning rules

jacksdad
Posts: 4887
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by jacksdad » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:18 pm

based on the information you provided, I have to second Nettle's advice. while I don't have 35 years of experience, I STRONGLY disagree with forcing a dog who is displaying fear, low confidence, anxiety etc to do anything...ie the tethering to the couch.

Even among otherwise positive trainers (giving the other trainer the benefit of the doubt) there are still A LOT of misconceptions regarding fear and dogs. lots of out of date info, false or bad information still believed to be true AND even absolute and complete misunderstanding of some behavioral principles. So given what you relate, despite 35 years, I have to question if this is the right person to help this dog. I have a bit of a soap box about dogs like this. you don't go to an agility trainer to learn the sport of schutzhund. helping dogs like this is it's own specialty, simply having 35 years of training experience doesn't always prepare you for this kind of dog.

your friends have a dog who's known history is that of a life effectively restricted to a crate. And has suddenly been placed into a new home where they want to treat this dog right, but like a "normal" dog. Oh and this dog has only been in the new home 2 months, on top of time in a shelter. To me, the first and safest assumption about this dog is a dog easily overwhelmed by new stuff, new people, new environments, leading to some level of anxiety or sensory overload. At this time, the dog feeling safe AND having a safe place to "decompress" is VERY important. and if the dog wants to go hide in the basement, let the dog.

IF the dog when allowed is choosing to spend more and more time down there, that to me STRONGLY suggests how this dog is being introduced to it's new life and the greater world out side of the basement or crate NEEDS to be SERIOUSLY reevaluated. Because if when given a chance "after a great day" the dog chooses to barricade behind some paint cans....this STRONGLY suggests that the "great day" may not have been so great from the dog's perspective.

I would bet $100 that this dog is being pushed to hard to fast.

Suzette
Posts: 1518
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:45 am

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Suzette » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:57 pm

Oh, it hurts me to think they might actually tether this dog to prevent her from getting to what she perceives as a safe place. What a horrid piece of advice that trainer gave to these folks who are looking for good advice for their dog! :( I will add my voice to those supporting Nettle's advice. It is sound and humane. This dog is no doubt being pushed a bit to fast for her peace of mind. As humans we so very, very often (with no malice intended) try to put the dog on our time frame instead of letting them go at their pace (which is often much slower than what we think it should be).

And this dog might well have a great day, maybe even a super week overall, but with a sensitive dog like this, one little thing at the end of that great day that frightens or concerns her could send her quickly looking for a safe place again. She should be allowed to go there until she feels safe again. While I'm sure their intentions are good and they truly care for this dog, I hope they will allow her to be the dog she is and not push her to be the dog they want her to be.
My avatar is Piper, my sweet Pembroke Corgi. b. 5/11/11

Dibbythedog
Posts: 214
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:08 pm
Location: Middlesex West London

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Dibbythedog » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:15 pm

Really agree with everyone else and as Jack says , the dog is overwhelmed and isnt coping as well as the owners think .
Hiding away is a coping strategy and the owners should ignore the trainers advice and not tether the dog . She may also be physicaslly and mentally tired too and need to rest and relax away from the rest of the household.

What is her name by the way?

They need to think of ways of helping her cope and adjust to her new environment and not put pressure on her.

if she goes to training classes then i would stop taking her as it adds to her stress and not over do the training at home either.

How many other dogs are there? Are they boisterous? Even if she appears to get on well with them , It's important she has her own space , if she is used to a crate , she might prefer a crate with a cover in a quiet place where she can escape to and other dogs arent allowed . leave the door open so she can come and go as she choses.

Chewing helps relieves stress so perhaps they could give her things to chew in her bed or crate .

A DAP collar might help her relax too.
"DAP offers a natural and convenient way to help manage stress-related behaviours in your dog or puppy.

Lactating bitches naturally produce an appeasing pheromone. This pheromone provides reassurance to puppies, helping them feel safe and secure when encountering new experiences and unknown environments.

Research has proven that a synthetic analogue of the dog appeasing pheromone provides reassurance and comfort to puppies and dogs of all ages. The Adaptil Collar is useful for the introduction of new puppies, puppy socialization, boarding, grooming, walking, gunshots, fireworks and the fear of travelling."

Alison

Ari_RR
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:07 am
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Ari_RR » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:59 pm

I just wonder, what other dogs are there.... And how did these folks determine that all those dogs are getting along really well?

This must be a huge change for this lab.. I would also leave her alone, not force any interactions other than food and exercise, and let her come out of the shell at her own time.
That she spends more and more time in the cellar alone leads me to think that the environment in the house is overwhelming for her, and doesn't feel safe yet, which is not at all surprising considering the magnitude of this very recent change.

Forcing her to be where she feels unsafe will do more harm than good. The trainer is wrong on this one, I am afraid.

Erica
Posts: 2697
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:35 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Erica » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:39 am

To help explain our reasoning to the owners, you could try something like this. Say they're scared of snakes or spiders or heights. Suddenly they're taken to a house with lots of these scary things. There's a room with no snakes or spiders or cliffs so they obviously go there when the scary things get to be too much. Would it help them or scare them more to be tied next to a bunch of snakes/spiders/cliffs? Or would they like to have the option of getting some safe time?
Delta, standard poodle, born 6/30/14

DianeLDL
Posts: 832
Joined: Sun May 19, 2013 4:16 pm
Location: Maine USA

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by DianeLDL » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:41 am

Erica,

You expressed it beautifully! :D

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

Liz & Koa
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:05 pm
Location: MA, USA

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Liz & Koa » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:53 am

Good points by all.

The dog does not seem upset when she is tethered and she is very lovable and friendly most of the time, but then all of a sudden, when there is no change in the in the room at all, she gets up and wants to be away. There are two other dogs and she plays with them and sleeps next to them sometimes.

It's interesting how there are so many different and opposite views from trainers.

Liz

Ari_RR
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:07 am
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Ari_RR » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:51 am

Liz & Koa wrote: It's interesting how there are so many different and opposite views from trainers.
:lol: yes ideed
My take on this - more than "what to do to correct", I am looking for answers to "why this happens", when it comes to undesireable behavior... - once I understand the "why" part - then I can apply my own rules of common sense to "what to do" opinions, and pick what makes sense to me, or a combination of things....

Of course "why" part can also have different and opposite views, which mean I need to understand (and in some cases validate) those views, in order to formulate my own, which would makes sense to me...

Bottom line - we (owners) take actions upon advice and opinions received. We take responsibility. We need to digest and validate and think through and question and understand opinions and advice received. Not just blindly follow. There will always be different and opposite views. We need to choose, and preferably based on our own thinking and research.

So - I can only applaud folks for reaching out for opinions, but then digesting and thinking them through before acting.

jacksdad
Posts: 4887
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by jacksdad » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:29 am

Liz & Koa wrote:Good points by all.

The dog does not seem upset when she is tethered and she is very lovable and friendly most of the time, but then all of a sudden, when there is no change in the in the room at all, she gets up and wants to be away. There are two other dogs and she plays with them and sleeps next to them sometimes.
To me, that says she has a "social limit". she can take say 15 minutes of social interaction, then NEEDs to get away and have a break. My dog is like that. not to the degree you describe, but he still has his limit. I do my best to pickup on it and listen. between that and lots of careful work his "limit" is extending. it for example a year go was "15 minute" today, it's closer to an hour. times are just representative of the concept and not meant to be literal. the environment/situation/what is going on etc, etc will all impact how much my dog (and your friends dog) can take before needing a break.

There was a recent study done and published in 2012 that showed that people have a difficult time identifying fear in dogs (that is unless you put in the time to learn the signs. it's a learned skill, not something you either have or don't) and I would suggest that the same applies to signs of anxiety and stress in dogs.

if your interested here is the link to the study.
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Ad ... ne.0051775

I would again strongly suggest that this dog is being misread. the dog may (making an assumption based on your supplied info) not be showing classic clear signs of fear that are more commonly picked up on... ears back, tail tucked, slinking/shrinking away etc. she may not be fearful at all (again huge assumption) , but rather simply overwhelmed and anxious. rather than "Oh NO, SCARY, SCARY..." it maybe more like "oh, this is ok, I am ok....oh, I have a had enough, too much, need a break". And the transition maybe as quick a flipping the light switch to turn off or on a light. she maybe ok for "5 minutes" in a social situation, but 5:01 is too much and then she needs a break, which is going down to the basement.

preventing her from being able to get away and de stress (the tethering) runs the risk of creating stress and when stress hits a certain point that is when aggressive behaviors can show up.
Liz & Koa wrote:It's interesting how there are so many different and opposite views from trainers.
while it is nearly impossible to have 100% identical views, when there are large differences, polar opposite views and such...I generally find it is because someone is miss reading a situation, is talking outside their area of expertise etc. there is general consensus in this thread based on available information that this dog is needing a break and not needing to be tethered etc. I bet if you asked each of us for specific what to do to help this dog you would get slightly different answers, but I would bet $100 most if not all suggestions would all follow a basic theme. that being, short safe exposure to the "world" in some fashion while allowing the dog to retreat to a safe, quiet spot to relax and recharge so to speak is what this dogs needs for now.

If the dog feels safe, the dog won't hid. If the dog isn't feeling overwhelmed, the dog won't hid. if the dog isn't stressed, the dog won't hid. that this dog is choosing to remove her self rather than react aggressively is VERY awesome. the last thing you want to do is reduce her options when feeling stressed/anxious/overwhelmed down to acting out aggressively. And that is the risk you run when tethering her. forcing her to endure something she isn't ready for.

It is a wonderful thing that you are asking about this on behalf of your friends. But I would suggest that the next step is if they are willing that they join up here and talk with us direct. I without a doubt believe they want the best for this dog, and are just trying to do the right thing. But I am concerned that they are not getting the right guidance.

Dibbythedog
Posts: 214
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:08 pm
Location: Middlesex West London

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress?

Post by Dibbythedog » Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:01 pm

Liz & Koa wrote:Good points by all.

The dog does not seem upset when she is tethered and she is very lovable and friendly most of the time, but then all of a sudden, when there is no change in the in the room at all, she gets up and wants to be away. There are two other dogs and she plays with them and sleeps next to them sometimes.

It's interesting how there are so many different and opposite views from trainers.

Liz
Jacks dad has given a great reply to this .

It would be nice if we knew her name instaed of calling her The Dog :wink:
Normally when consulting a behaviourist, they would spend a couple of hours going over all the details and watching how the dog and owners interact with each other and how the dogs interact with each other . We dont have that advantage but some of the facts given suggest that this dog was probably brought up with limited social contact with dogs and people , spending most of its time in crate and not a lot of time with its owner . She was also destructive when out of the crate so she could have been repremanded for that .

I'm sure we all know how important early socialisation is and this dog is very likely socially inadequate and it was mentioned that when the owners were trying to get her to come out from the under the stairs that he ears were flat back , this suggests appeasiveness and appeasive dogs or "eager to please you" dogs are trying to stay out of trouble .
Plus it might be in her nature to be a timid or shy dog.

I agree with jack dad that dogs can have a social limit and need to get away and I'd like to add that some dogs also dont know how to extract themselves from some situations and will just bolt .

I dont really enjoy social situations like works do's for example , i find them stressful and cant think what to say , so I have a fixed smile on my face and a false laugh and often spend time hiding in the toilet . I'm sure people meeting me must think I'm enjoying it but have an upset tummy :roll: I'm sure I;m not the only one to have snuck away with out saying goodbye or pretended there's an emergency . That doesnt mean to say I'm scared of the people or hate them , I just find it over whelming and uncomfortable.

I would ask the owners of this dogs to look for subtle stress signs such as a lip flick , sniffing the ground , looking away as clues to hoe the dog is feeling.

Could there be some sound that the dog can hear but the owners can't or perhaps something reflecting a light or a flash , something on the TV?


Trainers do have opposing views but in this thread we are generally saying the same thing , not to tether the dog .


Ali

Liz & Koa
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:05 pm
Location: MA, USA

Re: Dog digging indoors. Stress? The plot thickens

Post by Liz & Koa » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:46 am

Jacks dad, her name is Lainey, thanks for caring :D

Since I posted this my friend has reached out to the previous owner again ( when she tried before the answers were very short and not helpful). I have copied and pasted the e-malis in order. I am interesting in what you all have to say. This poor pup could just be wired wrong... :|

Current owner:
I really hate to reach out to you again as I'm sure you are trying to move forward with your life. I'm contacting you for any insight you can provide on Lainey and of course if you choose not to respond I will respect that. We have not witnessed the behavior you shared. she crates wonderfully and has not destroyed anything in the house. But she has major anxiety attacks and flees....she hides in garbage cans, fireplaces, storage shelves.etc... we have tried many things, hiring a behaviorist, drugs etc... she is just not a happy dog at all and it's been almost 3 months. Since we have no history on her it's hard to know what this could be, so if you would be kind enough to shed any light on this we can try to help her. We also don't know if you were her only owner. Thank you for anything you may be able to provide.

Previous owner:
That is so sad. She never ran from me but whenever I left the house she would destroy everything she could. When I was home I could not walk one foot without her attached to my hip. I tried anti depressants and the thunder coat. She became agressive toward my children if they came between me and her. Lab rescue promised not to place her with a family until she was retrained but they placed her with you immediately. She has massive anxiety attacks. I was her fourth owner. I feel bad for her. She has a great heart.

I am not sure if my email went through. I was the fourth owner of lainie. I had her for 2 years. She was destructive when I was not home and would only respond to me. If my kids tried to walk her when I was home she would lay down and not move. When I was home she would only want to be next to me to the point where she would freak if i did not pay attention to her. I took her to the vet and they put her on clonapramine (iIam sure my spelling is wrong). That did not work. Another vet told me it was my fault and I had to retrain her with a special collar and thundercoat and make her spend time with the kids only. She started humping them if I did that when I was home. She destroyed the house whenever i left. One day she knocked over the lamps and ate the bulbs. When i took her to the vet they said she had a breakdown and was unfit for a home. They said lab rescue would retrain her if they could.

Current owner:
I did receive both emails and let me say thank you for this information. Unfortunately it was not what I was hoping for but I'm not surprised based on what we have been experiencing. The only surprising thing is the aggression because we have not seen that at all. and the fact that labs4rescue allowed this to continue, we have adopted from them before and have had great experiences. They painted a picture as an abused dog that just needed a chance, they never mentioned multiple owners or that you had experienced challenges. I also feel horrible and we also feel that this is beyond our experience.....my sense is with each home the problem gets worse. just out of curiosity where did you adopt her from? I too agree she is a sweet dog but i wonder if she can have a happy life. Thank you again, you have provided some insight which is most helpful.

Previous owner:
We got lainie from the last hope rescue in wantagh. I love lainie and just always wished i could make her happy. If you are at your wits end email me before you give her back. I would rather take her then see her go back to a shelter. Her heart is full of nothing but love..just very misgiuded.

Liz & Koa

Post Reply