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Anxiety in my Border Collie

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Kerry357, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. Kerry357

    Kerry357 PetForums Newbie

    Sep 25, 2019
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    I have a 3 year old Border Collie (Max), he's been with me and my partner since he was 8 weeks old and had always been the "perfect dog"... Even when me and my partner had to leave Max with family for 3+ weeks whilst we went on holiday, he was absolutely fine and loved seeing us again (this was well over a year a go).

    However, a few months back we noticed Max started acting unusually.... Pacing, panting, climbing on us to get close, unsettled in general. He's always been closed in our Kitchen / Diner and utility at night and has always been fine. But he's recently been trying to get out, scratching at the door (no need to relieve himself outside) and pacing a lot at night.

    The only connection I can make is that there was a thunder storm (big one) a few months back and he's since hated the rain, the dark and going in the garden at night.

    We've tried to sooth him, distract him, tough love, moving him into different rooms to see if he prefers one more... Nothing. He's just clearly constantly unsettled and pawing at me for attention (which I don't know whether to give him or not?!).

    Any advice on what can help?

  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Feb 1, 2016
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    I think one of the first things is to consider the difference between emotion and behaviour. The 'not giving attention' to stop something is about ignoring behaviours we don't want. Fear and anxiety are emotions, and you cannot reinforce an emotion by rewarding it. So for example if you were afraid of spiders, my rewarding you with attention when you see one (like a hug) is not going to make you MORE afraid of them. So it's fine to comfort him when he is fearful.

    Have you seen the vet to make sure it is a behavioural issue and not a medical one ?

    Ruling out a medical issue it may well have been the storm. Have you tried any of the Adaptil products? They come in a spray (for blankets etc., not for directly on to the dog), a collar and a diffuser. It replicates the hormone a bitch has after having puppies and has a calming effect on dogs.

    There is also a good video by Kikopup on YouTube about teaching a dog to settle but I'd be concerned that your dog would do this when asked but his anxiety might still be simmering underneath so you are only fixing the symptom, not the problem itself. Some dogs find chewing to be soothing though, so if you can find something safe to give him at bedtime, that would perhaps help him relax.

    Sorry I don't have any stronger advice, I'm sure others will.
    Lurcherlad likes this.
  3. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums Senior

    Oct 27, 2018
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    Can you move his bed to your bedroom? See if that helps. Having dogs sleep with the ‘ yoomins ‘ is not everyone’s cup of tea, I appreciate, but it might be worth trying - even just for a week, say, then see if he’s better when you return him to the normal place? If he’s been unsettled, I’m just wondering if it might help him relax a bit?
    (I will confess that I’m not a big fan of dogs sleeping in human bedrooms - certainly not in the bed - but in this case, I might be willing to make an exception. He certainly sounds very disturbed.)
    JoanneF and Lurcherlad like this.
  4. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Jan 5, 2013
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    There could be an appliance where he sleeps that is also upsetting him, given their hearing is much more sensitive than ours.

    If he’s getting anxious because he knows nighttime means being away from you, that could explain his unsettled behaviour. (A friend’s greyhound used to associate dark nights with fireworks and would start to display similar behaviours as the nights started to draw in.)

    I’d have his bed in my room and see if he settles. Being close enough that you could lay a reassuring hand on him and a comforting voice might help.

    I would definitely offer comfort to an anxious dog - as lullabydream says - I don’t think it “rewards the unwanted behaviour” either.
    JoanneF and Ian246 like this.
  5. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

    Jun 24, 2010
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    Well something has clearly happened whilst he's been in your kitchen/diner that has really frightened him and collies are sensitive dogs at the best of times. It could well have been the storm which has triggered this new behaviour. Personally I'd go and see your vet to have him checked for any underlying medical conditions and also ask if he can prescribe a sedative for a few days to see if it makes a difference.
    When my collies have suffered traumas/anxiety issues, be it travelling, fireworks, etc. I usually put a Thundershirt on them and use one of the Doreen Paige remedies. Have a look at their website; there is one called 'Insecurity' which is for fear of known things. I've had very good results using it over the past 20+ years.
    JoanneF likes this.
  6. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

    Feb 18, 2009
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    If the association is being alone in the dark, you could leave a nightlight on, and perhaps the radio burbling away quietly too. BBC World Service is on all night, you'd end up with a very well-informed dog.
    LittleMow and JoanneF like this.
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