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Canine Behavior/Dog running to front and back doors.

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Question
Our 3year old Airedale has suddenly been going to the front and back door and trying to open them repeatedly. We wondered if the house was too warm? He has Also been sniffing around his bed and tossing out bedding,any ideas?This is not usual behaviour. Thank your

Answer
Well, I haven't been to the UK in many years and I don't know where in the UK you live.  BUT....unwanted "visitors" (animals) are common here in the US (in those States where there is real winter).  The Airedale is an exceptionally intelligent dog highly capable of independent thought, planning, and strategizing in such a manner as to manipulate its Human.  This is a dog that, if its physiology allowed, would be able to learn language.

Since your dog is "suddenly" behaving in a way you have not seen before, I suggest you do two things:

1.  Hire a pest control specialist to inspect your home and property for signs of intrusion by "unwanted critters".  DO NOT ALLOW any killing agents to be put down in your home or property; they can kill your dog, too.  There are other ways to deal with these intrusions.  His "sniffing around his bed and tossing out bedding" may be the result of some unwanted "visitor" looking for warm "stuff" or it could be a sign of some disorder in your dog.  So,
2.  Go to the veterinarian.  If you are able, find a Veterinary Behaviorist.  Perhaps someone who has licensed credentials in the UK in Animal Behavior can help you find one:

http://asab.nottingham.ac.uk/accred/reg.php

It's unlikely such a young dog has developed cognitive dysfunction but a veterinary intervention is always indicated when any dog develops sudden, aberrant behavior.

3.  DO NOT REWARD the dog by following him to front/back doors, giving him additional attention while he does this, or in any way interacting with him if he trashes his bed.  ANY interaction, even negative, is REWARD.  Instead: redirect his attention.

Buy a fluffy toy with a loud squeak (intended for dogs).  YOU carry it around with you in his presence for a day or two, hugging it, putting it in a "safe" place in "plain sight" that he cannot reach.  THEN:  when he is relaxed (lying down or hanging out), walk up to him.  Put your forefinger to his nose and then immediately bring it to your face and SQUEAK the toy.  He will stand, he will give you "attention".  Now: back up a few feet, touch your nose, when he approaches squeak the toy; back up again, touch your nose, when he approaches GIVE HIM the toy.  Let him have it for a minute, no more; then, clap your hands to distract him, pick up the toy.  If he hangs onto it, turn your head, ignore him, do not let him have it and do not move.  The moment he lets go of it, say "LEAVE IT" and put it away (in plain sight where he cannot reach).  Repeat this exercise twice a day, randomly, and then once he is responding at the SIGHT of the toy in your hands (coming to you without a cue), YOU HAVE a conditioned response that you can use to REDIRECT his unwanted behavior.  If he is frantically running from door to door, his cognition is not engaged.  You must stand between the door paths with the stuffy in your hand and, when he SEES it, squeak it.  He will come to you.  Give it to him for a minute, then "LEAVE IT" and put it away in plain sight.

You will now have an object that he will quickly learn is far more rewarding than running from one door to the next.  It's his sudden obsession with his bed that might be difficult to extinguish UNLESS it is associated with unwanted "visitors".  If that persists, use followup feature so I can see full original question and answer and I also want to know what the veterinarian said.  Thanks!

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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