Dog barking and separation anxiety at night

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by KDOGG331, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

    9,335
    1,160
    426
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    Okay so my dog, Gator, has this really really bad, obnoxious, incredibly irritating habit of barking at night!!

    He ONLY does it when he is ALONE!

    Now, I realize that is probably our fault because when he was a puppy and cried, we went down and slept with him. We tried to ignore him at first like you are supposed to but it didn't work so when he cried we would all take turns going down there and sleeping with him for the night. Heck, we even brought a mattress down and slept on it or on the couch above it....

    Yes, I know. We ruined him.

    Well now he is turning 5 in a few days and cannot be alone.

    My dad lets him sleep in bed with him every single night and he used to sleep in our beds sometimes too but no one else lets him so he always sleeps with my dad. My brother used to let him sleep in the bed too but hasn't in probably almost a year so when he goes to his house, he sleeps on the floor and it isn't a problem. He doesn't even dare get on the bed when he is not home.

    Normally him sleeping with my dad isn't a problem but the problem comes when my dad is out of town. Like right now.

    Gator is SO IRRITATING. He is 5 years old, not a little puppy. He should jot be doing this.

    Now, he has gotten a little bit better, it's now off and on or only a few hours instead of continuous or literally the whole night like he used to. But it's annoying. I know it's not a predator because he has a very different bark for that. This is like a whiny cry type bark but he mixes several types or barks and vocalizations in.

    So my question is: HOW DO WE STOP THIS!?

    I have tried yelling at him, petting/comforting him, spray bottle, etc. But nothing works or it works for a few minutes then he starts again. Do I just let him "cry himself to sleep" so speak? Is it anxiety? I had read something about extinction/extinguishing behaviors that said you have to ignore the behavior 100% of the time because even 1 in 100 times of reinforcing it they'll do it again because there's that chance of reward still there. So do we just need to TOTALLY ignore it? But at the same time, it has been 5 FREAKING YEARS. But again, we have never TOTALLY ignored it for any extended period of time. But at the same time, I feel like it needs correction and during the day if you correct him, he stops, otherwise he will keep going for fun. Yet when I correct this it seems to make things worse. I don't want to use an e-collar just because I feel like it wpuld be very uncomfortable and not recommended to wear it for the whole night but at the same time, it might achieve instant results without the reward of getting human attention.

    PLEASE HELP.

    Also please don't say he needs to not be allowed on the bed because I know that may help but my dad likes him there and is hard to convince. I am working on that but I need to know how to stop him now if possible. My dad is gone this whole week and will be traveling for the next 2 as well, only being home on weekends, so this needs to be brought under control.

    Is it just a matter of time? He is quiet at my brothers.

    Also, maybe there is no training solution? Maybe I just need to go to sleep at a reasonable hour so that I do not hear him barking and he does not get any reinforcement? Maybe that is the best approach? But how will I know if he is better or not?

    It is almost 3am right now and he started around 1am. He seems to start shortly after we go to bed and he gets lonely. Off and on since.

    I feel bad he has such anxiety but he is very annoying.

    And maybe I could install some sort of camera or microphone/recording software to show my dad and brother how much he barks (they don't believe me) and convince dad he needs to spend time alone? Dad is almost always with him.

    I was thinking another reason (to make him sleep on the floor) is the bed is also pretty high and he has bad hips, sometimes barely making it up, so that surely does not help it.

    I know this post was really long andnot even really asking anything but thank you in advance.
     
  2. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

    9,335
    1,160
    426
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    Although also i think tonight there might be something out there because he went crazy when I let him out earlier and his bark just changed but he's also still doing the attention barking
     
  3. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

    9,335
    1,160
    426
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    Oh and also, most dogs get bored with barking eventually, right? So the ignoring them thing works. But he will literally bark the whole night or at least for hours so it is very hard to train. You would think he would get tired and go to sleep? Especially when no one answers him? Why is he so stubborn and obnoxious?

    Also could it possibly be from boredom and/or lack of exercise? He gets none.

    And again maybe I just need to go to sleep so I can't hear him.... lol
     
  4. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

    9,335
    1,160
    426
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    Oh and it is the same with his daytime barking too, which he also does a lot of. People walking by, hears something, etc. It starts as barking at one thing but if you don't correct it or bring h inside hw will lay there and keep going.
     
  5. HeavensHens88

    HeavensHens88 Overrun With Chickens

    680
    5,361
    311
    May 17, 2015
    Totality lost it.
    I can only give you the psychology aspect of it until I can think of a further solution:
    Dogs are pack animals. Their ancestors lived in a strict and domineering hierarchy system within the pack and therefore there was no room for anxiety/social tension.
    Your dog has assumed the unwanted role of Alpha within your pack (household). He does not want to be entrusted with this enormous responsibility because he is a socially insecure dog; but he has no choice, because, within his mind, there is no one in your household who has assumed the correct level of dominance for this position. He finds himself in places that only the pack leader should be allowed: e.I. the highest sleeping point- the bed. So whenever his pack leaves the "territory", he becomes anxious and tense because he does not believe he is a firm enough leader to hold down the "camp" while his "pack" is out. He also believes he should be guarding his "territory" and therefore warning daytime "trespassers" away as the natural duties of an Alpha- but your dog has no want to be an Alpha by your description. He just wants to be a low-ranked member of a pack with FIRM LEADERSHIP.

    Understandable? Sorry if it's a bit redundant....


    I have taken many Canid Behavior/Hierarchy extra curricular classes in high school, so....
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  6. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,450
    270
    246
    Jun 4, 2011
    google separation anxiety. yelling at him won't work because the constant attention and reassurances have left him psychologically unable to cope with being alone. Also, yelling means that you are paying attention to his barking = reward

    you can look into getting him a thundershirt. also, talking to a vet, behaviorist and trainer can work. The problem is, most problems can't be diagnosed over the internet. You have to see the dog in person, observe them and their interactions with the people in the family, etc. Without that important factor, you can miss big clues that will pinpoint solutions. He may even need medication to calm his anxiety to give a platform to even begin teaching better behavior.

    And, no, most dogs don't get bored with barking. It's a self-rewarding behavior. Even if it's simply having their own voice for company, they are getting something out of it. Plus, many of those methods you are trying (yelling, spray bottle, etc) all involve giving the dog attention in some way. Even bad attention is better than no attention so equals a reward. "Hey, they might be mad but at least they know that I'm alive"

    Also, the pack theory like sleeping on the bed has long ago been disproven. He doesn't think he's alpha because he was allowed to sleep on the bed. He's simply never been rules and doesn't know what is expected of him so does as he pleases. Sometimes that is rewarded in good ways, sometimes he's not, but always left not quite knowing what he did right or wrong. Even his bad behavior (not coming when called) has been well-rewarded. Sleeping in the bed isn't going to change any of his behaviors or his attitudes.
     
  7. Rwood5093

    Rwood5093 Out Of The Brooder

    58
    7
    46
    Dec 30, 2016
    Jamestown, SC

    This absolutely can be a factor. Our trainer taught us a tired dog is a good dog. They should be exercised at least twice a day. Play ball, take a walk, etc till their tongue is hanging out.
     
  8. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

    9,335
    1,160
    426
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    Thank you everyone! I thought of a Thunder Shirt but they are expensive but it might be worth the price. He tends to be anxious in general especially when there is a lot of yelling in the house, he hates it and gets very upset. Never thought of meds though. I'll have to ask some people. Do you think that OTC stuff from a pet store would work? They sell all sorts of supposedly calming things. Or maybe exercise to calm his nerves and give him something to do?

    As for him guarding the territory, I appreciate the input but tbh I think it has more to do with his breed than being alpha or anything. He is half black Lab, half Great Pyrenees, so being part LGD it is in his blood to protect territory/guard and do his job so I'm not sure that can be trained out. HOWEVER. He should be able to be called off when necessary so I'll work on that. He's actually really good about turning around and coming when called if I'm out there with him but if not he will keep barking. And he usually can't be convinced to not go in the first place. He needs more work inside at the window guarding with visitors. Also, we never socialized him so I do think that his anxiety and lack of confidence makes him unsure of what a real threat is (barking at everything) and also makes him over compensate and act more mean than he is. I should work on all of it.

    For the bed, whether it is or isn't being alpha, I should clarify that I wasn't thinking of that when I thought of it. My thinking was simply that by being off the bed and on the floor, he would be forced to be alone and to deal with that. And of course also because his hip is bad and jumping onto a high bed probably isn't the best. The thought that some say it's being alpha did cross my mind but that's not why I thought he should stop sleeping on it.

    I do think he needs rules and consistency though like you had mentioned in the other thread so I will continue to work on all of that. Thank you again.

    As for exercise, yeah I guess we've kind of taken him for granted because with his breed he sleeps all day, but he really does need exercise. He doesn't outwardly come bug us or act insane but it manifests itself in stuff like barking I suppose and sometimes he gets into the recycling. He's also a very smart dog and probably bored. I will start exercising him. Thanks
     
  9. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

    9,335
    1,160
    426
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    Oh and I'm sorry, I should have clarified, but it was mentioned he gets upset when we leave the territory but I should have noted, he is actually fine when we leave, whether it's dad to work, me to school, us out to dinner, wherever, which is weird considering he's anxious in other areas. But he is lazy and will just sleep on the bed the entire time and not even notice. The anxious barking thing is only at night when no one sleeps with him. And the barking at everything is when he's out by himself. It's weird though, he DOES get anxious when my brother is here. He is wayyyy too attached so if he's here, he HAS to be outside with him and if he comes over and doesn't come say hi, Gator gets very upset. He does show classic separation anxiety in these instances.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  10. HeavensHens88

    HeavensHens88 Overrun With Chickens

    680
    5,361
    311
    May 17, 2015
    Totality lost it.
    If he is an LGD: there is one thing for sure- he should probably be getting a ton more excersize. Dogs like that are bred for stamina and therefore it's unnatural for them to lounge around all day. Does he ever show an interest of wanting to go outside- other than to just urinate and defecate of course.
    For the night barking, I have personal success with the Thunder Shirt, buy as you have validly pointed out, they are quite costly.
    Something my mom (a veterinarian) and now I swear by for anxious dogs is called Rescue Remedy. It can be found in holistic pharmacies or your local, independantly-owned pet store. For stressful situations: visits to the vet, being left alone, adapting to new surrounding, excessive whining. Fear of loud noises, such as firework and thunder. Excessive barking or hissing. Highly appraised by Bach Flower Remedies. Drug-free and all-herbal.


    Please listen to the other (better) advice than mine!! As you have read, I am only a teen, and therefore there are a TON of more veteran dog psychologists on here!
    ~Sarah
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by