Anxious barking at night - started at 11 months

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heathldv
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:25 am

Anxious barking at night - started at 11 months

Post by heathldv » Wed Oct 14, 2015 3:58 am

Hi there - I'm hoping someone here can help me with an issue we're having with our 11 month old Border Terrier Elwood. He has always slept in the kitchen in our house since he was fully toilet trained - initially in a crate and then for the last 3 months on a soft bed. In the past he would occasionally 'yip' a couple of times before he settled down but not for more than a couple of minutes and then he'd happily sleep by himself.

Recently he's started barking constantly for long periods when we put him to bed and go upstairs and leave him. We think we might have partially caused this as we recently started letting him have the run of the downstairs at night as he was being so good, and he preferred to sleep in the lounge and was fine, but when we had friends with a young baby to stay we put him back in the kitchen behind a baby gate so he wouldn't get in the way if they had to get up to feed. That night he barked incessantly for an hour or so and we initially left him hoping that he would settle down but we were so worried about waking the baby that in the end we took him up into our bedroom and let him sleep in there. This happened only a few days after we started letting him sleep where he liked.

The next day when we tried to go back to our normal routine (him downstairs but allowed to sleep where he liked) he sat outside our bedroom door and whined and barked for ages!

We then tried going back to the old routine of him being in the kitchen and this didn't work at all. Since then we've tried a few times to resettle him in the kitchen but everytime we've caved and let him in the bedroom as we really don't want to leave him to bark for too long - (a) for the sake of the neighbours, and (b) because it seems to us that he's working himself up and getting anxious.

The long and short of it is that we really don't want him sleeping in our bedroom on a regular basis - it disrupts my husband's sleep and ruins our 'private' life and as he has been fine in the past would like to get back to that. We're just not sure what is the right tactic and how we can go about reversing this.

Any advice very much appreciated!!

Thanks!
ImageIMG_0892 by heathldv, on Flickr

JudyN
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Location: Dorset, UK
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Re: Anxious barking at night - started at 11 months

Post by JudyN » Wed Oct 14, 2015 4:18 am

A couple of options spring to mind - first, could one of you sleep close to him (e.g. on a mattress/bed-roll on the kitchen floor, or just outside the stairgate) for a few nights and then gradually withdraw? I know it won't be great for a while, but it could convince him that it's OK to be downstairs.

Second, how about letting him sleep in your bedroom but in his crate? Is he a noisy sleeper? I find my dog makes less noise at night than my OH :lol: If he's in the crate he will be less likely to try to join in with your 'private life' - though you might have to build up gradually and not be too noisy or swing from the chandeliers...

I know neither of these are ideal, so hopefully others will have more ideas.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

JudyN
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Location: Dorset, UK
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Re: Anxious barking at night - started at 11 months

Post by JudyN » Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:55 am

Patco, your problem isn't your dog sleeping in your room, it's your dog being 'barking angry', whatever that means. There is no reason why a dog shouldn't sleep well in its owner's bedroom. You'd rather he was 'barking angry' out of earshot?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Dominika
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Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:25 pm

Re: Anxious barking at night - started at 11 months

Post by Dominika » Sat Oct 24, 2015 6:52 am

I think the main thing is that in whichever direction you go with your training, there is always going to be a settlement period. He's now learnt that there is a new option for him - sleeping with you - which is just lovely, it's warm, he's very close to you. So I think this is the first thing you will have to overcome.

Like Judy N said, you could have his crate in your bedroom. You could get him used to sleeping in it again first whilst he's close to you. You will still have to take him off your bed and put him in his crate a few times so he learns that that's what you want. Not him being on the bed but in his crate. I would personally stroke him once I put him in his bed, IF HE ENJOYS BEING PETTED (because if he doesn't, it will just unsettle him) and pair it with quiet vocal praise. You will be then able to use the praise just to reassure him while he's in his crate quietly.. Then once he sleeps through the night you put the crate outside the bedroom to test if he settles and then back downstairs. Then I think you could also still have his crate door open downstairs for him to sleep in the living room.

However do bear in mind that most dogs hate for their routine to be changed. So even such a thing as someone coming to stay over is a big thing and will make them seemingly unlearn what they've learnt/habituated. Especially a little pup that's still testing out lots of behaviours to see what works best for him :)

My two dogs are both very different. We've had them for 4-5 years. Girl usually sleeps downstairs and comes up to our bed early in the morning (I think that's because she's ready to wake up but just settles down in our bed instead of waking is up forcefully :)) and the boy sleeps with us (disrupting our 'private' life haha) so if we want to live privately I give him a kong with a little bit of something inside and send him to his bed downstairs. I have a few options for them for sleeping so it's fairly easy for me to get them settled wherever depending on whats happening.

Over to the professionals now :)

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