dog with mega anxiety - I need help!

(26 Posts)
wheresthelight Sun 30-Mar-14 21:43:20

We got our gorgeous Patterdale 18 months ago from a rescue centre (a pretty shit one as we later found out) and she has insane separation anxiety

Normally it is just following us everywhere, Barking if we leave the house, licking the doors etc which we mostly combat by putting her in a cage when we go out which has worked a bit and she certainly calms down quickly - neighbours say she only barks for a few minutes and then they don't hear a thing.

However over the last couple of weeks she has started biting when we try and answer the door. We have a porch so she is kept away from the main front door, but as you try and squeeze through without her following she has taken to launching herself at us and barking. I am not sure if the biting is deliberate or just an accident when she is barking iyswim.

I have told her off, put her in her cage and even bitten her back but nothing is working.

Anyone got any ideas??

Whoknowswhocares Sun 30-Mar-14 22:26:47

Bitten her back?????????? Seriously? And you wonder why she is anxious, barking and biting?

Stop that approach immediately. Dogs have no concept of tit for tat. All she will see is that in an anxious moment the person she trusts most turns on her, making her doubly anxious next time. Complete vicious circle sad

Either put her in the crate or another room while you answer the door or leash her and open it with her in control on lead.
Has something triggered this behaviour? A visitor who scared her maybe, or something else?

You need clues as to the trigger and then need to quietly gain her confidence by desensitising her very gradually over time.
That said, with the greatest of respect, you do not sound knowledgable enough to do this without help and need the help of a qualified behaviourist to do more than manage the situation. Without this input you run the risk of it escalating to more serious problems

wheresthelight Sun 30-Mar-14 22:28:33

Actually the biting her back was the suggestion of a vet.

We know nothing about her past and she has always gone mental about the doorbell being rung

SnakeyMcBadass Sun 30-Mar-14 22:31:14

Seriously, biting a dog back? That's crazy advice. And an excellent way to get scarred for life. Please stop biting your dog.

Floralnomad Sun 30-Mar-14 22:35:13

It may have been a vet who works with horses ,as it's very commonly recommended to bite them back ! I would just shut her in a different room when you answer the door ,tbh lots of Patterdales are 'door rushers' ,it can be quite a problem with them . ( I have a Patterdale X )

Whoknowswhocares Sun 30-Mar-14 22:35:43

A VET told you to bite your dog in retaliation? Bloody hell, I would report them and change vets immediately quite frankly.

youbethemummylion Sun 30-Mar-14 22:36:24

I have no advice really as new to dog owning myself but please please do not bite your dog its a receipe for disaster and someone will get hurt!

SnakeyMcBadass Sun 30-Mar-14 22:37:32

confused I have clearly missed the memo on animal chomping.

wheresthelight Sun 30-Mar-14 22:40:47

That's the problem though flora, when trying to get her into another room or her cage she is launching herself at us and barking and biting - she hasn't broken skin yet but more cos I wear jeans most of the time.

She is such a sweet natured thing normally albeit bloody batty and she loves walks and playing and she is brilliant with the kids.

I can cope with mistook the behaviour nut this biting is really worrying me.

I don't know what the vets specialism was but she very definitely advised biting back as a method and it did work to a point when she used to nip when we first got her.

She definitely has issues with men she doesn't know and we think she has been kicked cos if you move your feet to fast when she isn't expecting it she cowers and pees with fear.

SnakeyMcBadass Sun 30-Mar-14 22:42:25

I think in your shoes I'd get some behaviourist advice. If she's biting through fear you need help. Poor thing sad

Floralnomad Sun 30-Mar-14 22:47:07

Is it as bad if someone just knocks the door instead of using the bell as that may be one simple solution . Also does she have the usual Patterdale ball fetish so could be given a special ball when the door bell rings ? If she is food motivated that could also work ie go to your bed with a gravy bone when the bell rings . These simple solutions can be worked on quite simply with just two people and repetition until she gets it .

Whoknowswhocares Sun 30-Mar-14 22:47:10

Can't say I've ever heard of biting a horse back either tbh in over 25 years working with them, but maybe in certain circles it's accepted confused

Either way, OP, you need specialist behavioural help from a qualified behaviourist. No one can diagnose by internet and to try is dangerous tbh. Someone who know what they are doing needs to see her 'in action' so to speak and help you directly

Floralnomad Sun 30-Mar-14 22:49:52

Can I just say I've never bitten any animal ,but have heard of it being recommended with horses often . I wouldn't have risked biting my horse as she was a lot bigger than me and had very large teeth !

wheresthelight Sun 30-Mar-14 22:50:10

Part of me doesn't think she means to bite, o think she is barking and launching herself album and is catching by accident iyswim. I am probably jot explaining very well as have had a crappy evening with dd not going to sleep.

I have spoken to a behaviour person who trains my friends puppy, she basically said that Patterdales as a breed are highly strung and as flora says it's just a problem with their breed that can't really be dealt with.

The biting thing is fairly new but we have moved the doorbell as I couldn't hear it when it was in the porch so it is now quite loud in the house.

I think a lot of it is her protecting the baby and just getting over excited but it is droving me crackers! Am worried it will be the kids she does it to when they are here so need to find a way to stop it or control it.

We have a cage for the car as well as the house so may have to bring that in and put it by the door so we can herd her in there when the doorbell goes.

I spend a bloody fortune on treats to try and reward her for good bbehaviour

wheresthelight Sun 30-Mar-14 23:02:01

flora - yes happens irrespective. She is a nightmare when we have visitors, she takes an instant dislike to some people (including my health visitor) and sits at their feet and barks like mad. I have to lock her away most of the time when people are here which i hate doing, but she gets herself so wound up!

When it is just me, DP and DD and even when DP's kids are here she is fine. SHe plays beautifully with the lids, hoovers up DD's crumbs when she hurls food on the floor, cuddles up nicely in the evening etc. It all seems to focus on the door and the fear that we are going out and leaving her i think.

I have done the leave for 1 min and come back, then 2 mins and built up but she goes mental - its a nightmare!!

cashewfrenzy Sun 30-Mar-14 23:09:35

Ok, firstly it's nonsense to suggest biting your dog - as is it daft to punish her in any way for being anxious. Vets receive minimal training in behaviour so aren't always a good source of advice (which makes me very sad, as a vet with an interest in behaviour).

The trainer who told you it's a Patterdale thing and can't be treated is also talking rubbish.

You need to get a decent behaviourist involved, as this is the only way to deal with this now. However, the success of that course of action depends on your commitment and willingness to work hard.

Look up the APBC and seek out a local behaviourist on their website listing page - that is a guarantee that they are at least practising proper modern methods.

In the meantime buy an Adaptil collar for her and ask your vet to give you some Zylkene for her. It is a supplement which can help with anxiety. Neither of these things will fix the problem on their own but they may make the process of dealing with this problem, under guidance from a professional, easier and quicker.

Good luck.

Floralnomad Sun 30-Mar-14 23:10:25

I'd have a look on Victoria Stillwells website / forum and try some positive training ,I'm fairly sure this kind of problem was covered several times on her programmes .

cashewfrenzy Sun 30-Mar-14 23:12:52

Just to add that these problems tend to worsen over time and the longer they go untreated the harder they are to resolve
So don't hang around - the sooner you get proper help from someone who actually knows what they're doing, the better.

Poor thing sad

Crutchlow35 Mon 31-Mar-14 20:29:34

Do not go anywhere near Victoria Stillwells website. Bloody awful woman.

Floralnomad Mon 31-Mar-14 20:37:59

*As you begin the process of modifying your dog’s behavior, BE PATIENT – positive training relies on consistency, repetition and the following general rules:

Identify WHY the dog is doing what it is doing. You cannot deal with a behavior unless you know the root cause.
Once you know the WHY, then you can ask yourself HOW to treat the behavior. It is vitally important that you understand your dog.
Learn to talk and think dog. Good communication serves to increase the bond between dog and owner considerably.
Find what motivates your dog to learn and use this while training. Rewards in the form of food, toys, praise or play are powerful, but every dog is different, so find what reward motivates your dog the most. Ignore those that say training your dog using food and/or treats is bribery. For a food motivated dog, using treats in the training process is vital in helping your dog learn. Not only that, food literally changes the way a dog’s brain functions in certain situations and can help rehabilitate a fearful or aggressive dog. Food is a powerful tool and is an essential ingredient when it comes to dealing with many major behavior problems.
Be Kind! Never hit, scream at or yank your dog. Don’t combat fear with more fear – recognize your dog’s concerns, then slowly and gently help him learn to overcome them.
Go very slowly when dealing with anxiety-related behaviors. The best way to rehabilitate an aggressive dog is to change how he perceives the stimuli that make him anxious. Do this by slowly showing your dog that the thing he fears is no longer scary.*
The above is a basic summary of Victoria Stillwells approach ,taken from her website ,what is so awful about it ?

cashewfrenzy Tue 01-Apr-14 00:20:35

Yes Crutchlow, I'm also confused. What exactly is your problem with her?

As far as I'm concerned she's the only truly prominent positive trainer in the media. She's doing fantastic work in the US just now, she's an advocate for bull breeds and she's involved in the UK's first bite prevention conference this year. Fab woman.

Floralnomad Tue 01-Apr-14 09:15:06

Thanks cashew , I've trained my dog using her methods and techniques and after the comment from crutchlow actually looked her up to see what I'd missed ! Also can I add that I never said you can't train Patterdales not to door rush ( I have to a degree) but was simply trying to reassure the OP that she is not alone with the problem.

SnakeyMcBadass Tue 01-Apr-14 10:44:06

I bloody love Victoria Stillwell. She's kind but firm with her training methods and I've used them to good effect with the spaniel.

cashewfrenzy Tue 01-Apr-14 12:45:55

Floral the OP said that a trainer her friend was using told her it couldn't be remedied in Patterdales. It wasn't a dig at you. smile

No good behaviourist would dismiss a problem behaviour by saying glibly that it's just a problem with abreed.

mistlethrush Tue 01-Apr-14 12:53:17

We had two collie crosses (rescued) who would madly door rush and would bite each other in frustration if they couldn't get out. The door opening procedure came to be - door bell goes, does rush to door, utility room door opened, dogs ushered in there, and door closed, front door opened. They normally had a biscuit when they came out (and would wait patiently to come out once in there). If you could, every time the door goes get a special treat for her and shut her in another room, would that be possible? Keep a tin of 'special' door bell treats by the door for this purpose?

If she's generally nervous and worried, you might find that a thunder shirt might help - my dog now sleeps through fireworks instead of being a jibbering wreck.

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