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Canine Behavior/Behavioral Problems with my 7 year old English Bulldog


I have a 7 year old Female English Bulldog. She weighs 44 pounds and hasn't had any issues until recently. My question is we also have a 2 year old Newfounland female with separation anxiety. When it is time to go to bed both the dogs sleep in our bedroom with the doors closed. The Newfoundland will potty on the floor if allowed to roam the house but not in our room.( won't potty where she sleeps) BUT my English Bulldog is waking up in the middle of the night and walking over to the side of the bed and starts to scratch the carpet as if she is digging something. We have checked to see if she is "dribbling urine " but there is no wetness or smell. Then she walks back to her bed and starts digging on it. We will speak to her in a loud voice to make her stop. It's almost like she is sleep walking but digging instead! She is doing this every night.

Can you give us some advice on why she is doing this and what we might do to help her?

First stop:  VETERINARIAN.  Dog needs comprehensive blood values, urinalysis, stool check, orthopedic check, opthalmological exam (she may be developing a normal inability to *see* well due to aging or cataracts).  Describe the sudden behavior change to the vet.  When ANY sudden behavior change occurs, especially in mature dogs (over age 7), a thorough checkup is needed before the behavior, itself, can be addressed.

She may also be suffering from a minor loss of cognition.  Let's see what the Vet says.

PLEASE USE FOLLOWUP FEATURE so I can see original question/answer as soon as blood test results et al are available.  Get a copy of all test results; you may require a second opinion.

Meanwhile:  when she begins digging, quietly get up and put a house tab on her (this is a very lightweight leash with handle cut off).  If this is cognitive, the "restraint" of a "leash" that is not the one with which she is walked should calm her.  Keep an eye on her closely when you are at home; observe her relationship with the Newfie; observe any obvious changes in their relationship or other very subtle changes in your Bulldog's behavior that you would have missed had you not been looking for them.  KEEP NOTES so you can report these to me.  make the Vet appointment ASAP; test results can take up to a week from laboratories.  ALL suggested tests must be done; orthopedic evaluation (in a general vet's office) is the observation of dog walking and manipulating limbs; orthopedic discomfort is not uncommon in many dogs.  Should your dog be suffering from same, do not consider surgery before trying supplements and pain medication.  I look forward to your continuing report.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


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.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, 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.

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

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

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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