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Canine Behavior/dog tries to get under bed

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Question
Lately our fox terrier, about 10 years old and in good health, gets underneath our bed at night.
Even though we've blocked the space underneath with pillows, he gets underneath. What is the cause of this behavior? Is it part of terrier nature? He has only been doing this lately. There are no loud noises outside. Thanks.

Answer
He may be "denning" - a normal behavior.  Or he may be responding to a stimulus you are unaware of: scent/sound/movement in your home (little visitors); or he may have "discovered" this "safe place" as the result of one incident that frightened him and left him with a conditioned response.  There is no need to block access so long as the dog does not "defend" himself (develop aggression) if you call him out or reach under to get him (I don't recommend the latter).

This might also be the result of normal loss of vision as a dog ages and night vision becomes impaired.  Or it could be a sign of illness and also some loss of cognition, age related.  Dogs to NOT demonstrate "pain" in an overt manner unless the pain is debilitating (as in, orthopedic, tendonitis, frank injury).  I think you need to find a very good veterinary internist (not a generalist) and have this dog undergo a series of full blood chemistry, baseline neurological exam, eye examination, ear examination, orthopedic evaluation, in order to rule out any biologic cause.  Usually a veterinary internist requires a referral from a generalist.  Your veterinarian should know where this one to be found within a reasonable driving distance and SHOULD HAVE NO OBJECTION to giving you this referral without seeing the dog him/herself.

Once you have had the tests done, if the dog is in perfect health and the behavior persists, use followup feature to continue our dialogue.  Meanwhile:  do not block entrance unless dog is aggressive while under the bed.  Make no comment.  Do not attempt to "lure" him out (he may perceive this as reward).  

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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