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Thread: Any advice welcome - neurotic bernese

  1. #1

    Default Any advice welcome - neurotic bernese

    My 7yo bernese has always been clingy but over the last year this has reached ridiculous proportions. She is no longer accepting of ANY alone time. She refuses to eat unless I am within her sight (but won't eat if we are separated by glass). This means that giving her anything messy to eat ( eg bones) is out of the question as I would either have to let her chew on them in the living room or sit outside with her. It also means we can't give her bones to help her pass the time if we are out, as she will just leave them lying in the one spot, won't touch them. She is left alone only 2 - 3 x per week for up to 2 hrs at a time. We run our own company so we can, and do, take her to work with us every day. When we must leave her alone, we have to keep her outside as left inside alone she urinates on the couch (normally she is not allowed on furniture at all). She cannot sleep inside as she only accepts being directly next to the head end of my side of the bed (unnacceptable to me because she farts a lot). Locked out of the bedroom she will again urinate on he couch. Outside presents another problem as she refuses to get in a kennel or seek shelter of any kind. She usually lies near the fence even if it is pelting down with rain. We have now put an old couch in the garage for her and have started locking her in there for the nights so she can stay dry.

    I am so exhausted with this neurotic behaviour. She is a very loving, beautiful and clever dog, but somehow makes me feel completely inadequate as an owner because I am so obviously NOT satisfying all her needs, which are to be directly next to me 24/7.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Rural NSW
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    She has certainly trained you very, very well. I would start with the food issue.
    Give her her food..walk away.
    Give her 10mts with it and then take it away. Don't feed till the next feed time and repeat it.
    Dogs do not starve themselves and by the 3rd day she should be eating. DON"T give in. You have to be consistent. If you give in you are back to square 1.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Southern NSW
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    Firstly being the breed of dog she is, i would get a good vet consult...especially if she has not always been like this. Firstly , I would ask for a proper thyroid panel. One that is sent away to a proper laboratory. Because there are thyroid panels and thyroid panels

    And I would also look into if she is getting any pain from anything. Dogs in pain can often become anxious/clingy/stressed.

    Has anything really changed in her environment........Loss of a pet or family changed circumstances

    Otherwise you need to maybe give her a secure area in the house, where she know you are there, and can maybe even see you, but not right next to you. this is where crate training and place training become so handy. Place training is more difficult in a anxious dog, but a crate might help her feel more secure.

    But on just what you have said and it not always having been the same, i would go the medical way first...........if she is desexed, that might also be why she urinates on the couch.....She might do it elsewhere, but you might not notice it. Some desexed bitches become incontinent and this is due to lack of certain hormones and there are meds to help.

    Good luck.....I love bernese. We always hang out at the shows with the bernese
    Pets are forever

  4. #4

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    She isn't desexed. Last week she had a vet check her out thoroughly whilst getting her annual shot and was given a clean bill of health, though the vet didn't suggest a thyroid panel so I will go in that direction next. Kennel training isn't an option at the moment because we are very space-poor and this won't change for at least the next 12 months, basically we need to sell a property o/seas before buying a bigger place here and there are some issues with that at present.

    She has been through quite a few changes in her life as we took her with us for a 2 year stint o/seas and brought her back. So she has spent 30 days in quarantine, but the extreme clinginess didn't start till a few months after that. When she was younger I used to travel a lot for work so she was used to my abscences from the beginning.

    She has also become a lot fussier about WHAT she eats and has started demanding constant variety. Forget any dry food, no matter the quality. She has once gone 3 days without eating when I refused to remove dry food from her bowl and on the 4th day I gave in.

    She has never been interested in toys and has always been too lazy to work on a treat-filled Kong, she just leaves them lying around
    Last edited by Lipsmacker; 05-02-2012 at 11:18 PM.

  5. #5

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    A long, long time ago when crating was not so widely used in the wider community a trainer suggested I attach a hook to a skirting board, placed a mat/dog bed there and then attach the dog by his lead to the hook. This might be an alternative to crating if you have limited space. It didn't take the dog long to work out that was HIS spot and we had removed the lead within a week. We obviously used commands to get him to sit and stay and rewarded with treats or cuddles.

    In saying that this was not used for just an anxiety issue it was used for a dog who accepted no limits when we first got him but he had been abandoned twice in 8 months by two different owners so there was still a lot of anxiety there. I must admit I felt bad when I first started tying the dog up but it was probably one of the best pieces of advice I was given in relation to this particular dog. Why did I feel bad? Not 100% sure but with hindsight I think I was actually responding to my dogs history of being dumped and I felt sorry for him. Whether the dog knew it or not (and I think he did) it gave the dog a lot of power to do as he pleased and I certainly don't think it helped the dog with his anxiety. He really needed someone to take charge and make him feel safe and basically tell him what to do. So I guess I actually failed him in the beginning (my god, I am now feeling guilty!) I am just wondering if are you buying into your dogs behaviour? I am thinking it would be really difficult to deal with your dogs anxiety in a calm manner particularly when she seems to be so needy of you.

    If you find dealing with your dog stressful is there anyone else to help out? Do you have a partner who may be able to try feeding her. Maybe your dog can predict your behaviour and she might respond differently to someone else. I am certainly no dog trainer but thought it might be worth consideration as my dogs definitely respond differently to different people and my jrt takes advantage of very situation he can if given half a chance.

    When you took your girl in for her vaccinations did you mention her behaviour to the vet? If so, what did he say or suggest? I think the Thyroid panel is a good idea. I have heard of a huge range of rather unpleasant symptoms relating to thyroid issues in dogs. Anxiety being one of them. Best of luck.

  6. #6

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    If her health is fine, I must admit, after a hug for you, I really wanted to giggle. I love people who turn their lives upside down, in the endeavour to have a happy dog. You are lovely, kind people. It's just so sad, that it never seems to fix the problem, or even worsens it, in such cases.

    Get a calm, kind, experienced dog person - best female, as your dog likes you so much, who does a lot of dog massage. Get her to come a number of times, massaging, bonding and feeding in your home. Then walks with her, then get her to take your dog home, as a house dog. Don't go with her. I know from experience, that if an owner is there, a dog will react as it feels is expected, with owner. With a new, trusted friend, your dog is relaxed and open minded and will often go along with, 'New house, new rules...' Get her to set up a bed in her bedroom, and teach your girl to go to bed. To learn, "Go to bed." Then take the same bed to your place, set up where you want her, stand with your trainer, and say "Go to bed," as tho' you expect it to happen. There may be a lot of putting her back, first night... but this is setting her up for the rest of her life. Keep this doggy person in your dog's life. It's very handy to have a local, who can always be used for holidays and emergencies - and each time your dog goes, it is to be hoped, her stress and her unsureness of life without you, will gradually fade. As it is now, she is picking up on your stress and unsureness, on your growing desperation and worry and it is making her her more stressed and... Vicious circle.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Southern NSW
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    I like the above post...Thunder shirt or Tellington Jones massage/bandaging (where the thunder-shirt came from) might help....If her health is good
    Pets are forever

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