Waking in the night – six times.
The poor lady is waking in the night up to six times to take Beagle Dexter into the garden. He toilets (poo) most times.
Then, long before dawn, Dexter’s day has started. He looks for something to wreck.
The lady is exhausted.
She has two beautiful, friendly and very well-loved dogs, Japanese Spitz, Dakota, 3 – and Dexter who is nine months old.
As I usually do before I come, I asked for a list of issues. In Dexter’s case these included jumping up, stealing washing from the line, chewing the rug on the sofa, eating books from the shelf, destroying shoes, towels and tea towels. He pulls on lead, he bites when he doesn’t get the attention he wants and he howls when not in the lady’s presence. He bites her clothes as she tries to get dressed. He constantly jumps at her when she is trying to eat and when she showers he will remove the toilet rolls.
Since circumstances changed the two dogs are now left alone for many hours every day. Dexter howls. Dakota barks at things she hears – post comes through the door, the dogs next door barking. Stress levels are constantly being topped up during the day.
And – Dexter is waking in the night up to six times to toilet.
Perhaps he, too, is suffering from sleep deprivation, adding to his stress levels.
There are two main issues. One is the night time wakefulness and toileting. The other is the stress and lack of fulfillment that is causing Dexter’s behaviours. All efforts to stop him doing unwanted things result in frustration and he will jump at the lady and bite her.
Clicking for calm.
The lady’s home life revolves around stopping Dexter doing things. There is a lack of communication. What should he be doing? Dexter is confused.
Soon after I arrived it became apparent we would get nothing done unless we worked with the dogs – Dexter in particular.
Soon the lady, instead of watching out for unwanted behaviours, was watching for every small thing Dexter did that she liked, clicking and rewarding it.
At last he was understanding what was required of him. It was lovely.
He soon settled down and slept.
Calming him down and giving his life proper enrichment is one thing. The waking in the night to toilet is another.
The lady shares her bed with her dogs, so this means coming downstairs each time and he usually performs.
Why does he need to go so often? What can the lady do to get a good night’s sleep?
This is something that needs unravelling.
What goes into the dog has to come out!
What does Dexter eat? The food is average nutrition, containing ‘meat meal’ and other bulking things that will merely pass through a dog.
Like many dogs, he also eats dog poo – his own, Dakota’s and any other dogs he can pick up quickly enough when out.
He has a daily Dentastix. Reading the ingredients speaks for itself. Assuming that a man is about ten times the weight of Dexter, it’s like his eating a large lump of junk the size of ten doughnuts.
What can the lady do? For starters she can change Dexter’s diet. I would suggest ready-prepared complete raw food as there will be much less waste. Failing that, a much better kibble.
Dexter simply must not be able to eat poo. The only way to stop this, unless he’s tied to the lady’s waist, is for him to be muzzled in the garden until both dogs have performed. He must also be muzzled when out while recall is worked on.
(Possibly a better diet will remove his need to eat poo. ‘Coprophagia’ is a separate issue that can be looked at later).
The last meal of the day can be earlier with the walk afterwards, hopefully getting his bowels moving.
Day and night may be somewhat reversed at the moment. Because of the change in the lady’s circumstances, the dogs are left alone for a very long time. The build-up both of need to poo and of energy will then, fairly logically, come to a head during the night.
They will cut out the Dentastix and use raw marrow bones for cleaning teeth instead. The right bones (never cooked bones) will help occupy both the dogs and calm them down. The lady will install a gate in a doorway so the dogs can be separated. The degree of arousal frequently results in fights which limits the use of food when they are together.
A better night’s sleep.
What Dexter consumes will be controlled carefully.
The day will hopefully be broken up by a dog walker.
Looking for every little good thing the dog does, whether it’s just to stop jumping up and putting his feet on the floor, or simply lying down calmly, will make everyone happier. These things will be clicked and rewarded. Unwanted behaviours will where possible bring no reaction or be replaced with a desirable alternative.
Enriching activities will be added to Dexter’s life. Soon the lady should get a better night’s sleep. She will have more energy for these things.
With a positive approach, cases like this tend to improve quite quickly.
The lady will be getting her life back.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approaches I have worked out for Dexter. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where any form of aggressive behaviour is concerned. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page).