Canine Behavior/New Dog
QUESTION: I have just adopted a little rescue puggle who is 11 months old as I thought my resident pug Ralph would like some company.
They get along well, always playing and Olly will settle down when told. Ralph just wants to constantly annoy him. He constantly sniffs and try's to get Olly to play.
There has been some mounting going on from both parties although Olly my newest dog seems to hump more. I separate them and tell them no. Olly my newest dog is constantly sniffing Ralph's penis. He has also humped my leg a few times.
Olly is very anxious when left alone. He follows me everywhere and cries and howls at night meaning I'm getting no sleep and neither is my partner or Ralph. I leave him and just let him cry but it lasts hours and hours with no stopping. he came from a foster home who said he slept in a crate in their kitchen and was in the crate for a few hours if they were out.
He seems highly distressed and doesn't seem to be showing any signs of settling! Can you give me some tips on how to get him settled at night as I am due to go back to work in a weeks time and want the problem sorted out before then, or at least some improvement. It is not due to lack of exercise I take them long walks and they run off the lead and are both exhausted when they get in.
Any advice will be greatly appreciated!
ANSWER: Thank you for your question. It sounds like Olly is experiencing Separation Anxiety. This can be a very big deal as it's a panic disorder and causes all sorts of physiological responses in the body including increased heart rate, increased respiration (excessive panting), excessive drooling, vocalizing, some dogs will urinate, defecate or vomit due to the stress and anxiety.
Now it's possible that as Olly settles into your new home and begins to feel safe and secure that this is his forever home, it may resolve on its own. but it may not and then it will require addressing it with a professional who is well versed in dealing with separation anxiety or isolation distress. There's a great book written by the preeminent authority of separation anxiety in the USA.
Treating Separation Anxiety
, by Malena Demartini-Price
As for addressing the sleeping issue - I try to keep in mind that dogs are social animals. As puppies they sleep in a pile and take great comfort from the body warmth and hearing each other's heart beat, etc. Often when a puppy wakes in the night it's because they've somehow slipped away from their sleepmates and get cold so they wake up to find their pile and join it again.
I don't know the setup at the foster home where he was prior to your home. He may have had another dog in his crate with him, or at least had another dog in another crate right near by. Or maybe they just slept much more soundly and so they didn't hear him. Or, if he was in that foster home for quite a while, he may have been OK there and this move was stressful enough that it brought out this nighttime anxiety.
If I had a newly adopted dog who was doing this, I would immediately move the dog's sleeping area into my bedroom. It doesn't have to be on your bed if you're not comfortable with that. But he should be in the room with you. He might be comfortable in a crate in your room where he can see you from where he's laying. Or he might do better just on a dog bed near you. Ideally he's positioned in a spot where you can reach down from your bed and rest a hand on him so that if she starts to get antsy, you can provide that contact which is likely to be very comforting and will help him settle quickly.
When I was first teaching my puppies to sleep by themselves, I would sit on the floor near their crate and allow them to fall asleep in my lap. Then I would shift them into their crate and sit there another several minutes with my hand resting on their back until they settled again - this time in their crate- and fell asleep. Then I'd close the crate door, but stay right there another couple minutes to make sure the dog has indeed fallen asleep and remains asleep. If they wake during the night and I know that they don't need a potty break, then I'll repeat that whole process for the first week or 2 (depends on the dog). Then, I'll skip the lap time and just sit near by, maybe with my hand/finger through the crate to make contact. Then after another week I will sit nearby, but not make contact - maybe just speak softly to reassure them that I'm still there.... until the dog is sleeping through the night.
If you are comfortable with the dog sleeping on your bed - maybe on his own bed on top of your sheets/blanket if you don't want him directly on your bed, he is likely to sleep through the night from the first time you try this. Or at least, when he wakes, he'll see he's right with you and settle back down immediately rather than start crying.
I know how frustrating and exhausting it can be when a pup is not sleeping through the night. I've been there! The more you are able to make it the same kind of social/bonding experience that he certainly had when he was first born and with his litter mates, the more comfortable he'll be and the faster he'll fall asleep and the more soundly he'll remain asleep through the night.
As I said, you don't have to have him on your bed if you're not comfortable with that, but he should be set up in your room so he doesn't feel so isolated. Or you may find that he just doesn't like the crate and allowing him to sleep on a bed outside a crate or on the couch, etc. may be enough to quiet him even if he's not in your room. And you may find that even if you move him to your room, that the issue is the crate itself. If he has a bad association with the crate (for whatever reason), then the stress of being put in there could easily be aggravating his behavior and so just picking a different sleeping spot (play pen or no confinement, but on a dog bed or allow him to decide where he'd like to settle if that's an option), may resolve the issue altogether.
I hope one or more of these options proves helpful to you. Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance.
I wish you and all the house a good nights' sleep.
Worcester, MA Behavior Specialist
MAPP 2016 candidate
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Jody,
Thanks for all your advice. Olly improves every day and is now sleeping right through the night. He is still anxious if I leave him in a room but he is definitely improving.
The other main issue is he is constantly humping Ralph.
Sometimes his full penis is erect when he is in action. Ralph doesn't seem to be too bothered by it but it's a behaviour I want to stop. If I tell him "Olly, No" he walks away but goes back 10 seconds later and starts sniffing and mounting again.
Is there any advice as to how I can train this behaviour to stop? It's obviously not nice to watch!
Thank you for the update on the sleeping issue. I'm glad that's improving for you.
As for the humping/mounting - it's a very common behavior and is most often an inept effort at play. The erection tells us general arousal (not sexual arousal unless he's near a female in heat). Some dogs who don't know quite how to play or solicit play will use mounting/humping as a way of engaging. Other times if a dog is feeling overwhelmed by too much stimulation in their environment, some dogs will mount in that situation in an effort to regain control of the environment and reduce the stimulation that's causing them to feel over aroused.
It sounds like Olly is probably using it as an effort to engage in play. It's good that Ralph isn't particularly put out by it - as that behavior can sometimes cause scuffles if the one being mounted doesn't care for it...
But as you say, it's not very polite behavior and it's not really something we want to watch. It's great that Olly is responsive when you tell him "no" and he moves away (disengages). The key to training a dog to change their behavior is that we can't stop at just telling them what NOT to do. We must follow that immediately with what they SHOULD do.
So, instead of just telling Olly, "No," you have to give him another action that he can do. Tell Olly, "No, get your ball" (the second part should be in a very inviting tone of voice), or even better, instead of telling him "No" at all, just give him an alternative behavior or activity to do.
In my own home, my little terrier only ever tries to hump his big brother when the little one wants to play and the big one is busy enjoying a chew bone. My response with him is "Stop humping your brother" This gets him to disengage. Then I invite him to come to me or direct him to get a toy (he has a favorite tug toy), or I invite everyone to go outside with me and we go to the yard for a minute or two. Or I get Bully Sticks or other interactive toys that will engage him for a while. I mix it up what I offer as an alternative, but I always make sure that there is an alternative presented so that my little one is not left to his own devices - given that when it was up to him, his choice in that moment was to mount...
Now, after 3 years of having the little one (got him at 7 weeks old), more often than not, about 90% of the time, if I have to tell him "stop humping your brother", before I even offer up an alternative, he lays down politely next to his big brother and waits - either for the toy to be available, or for his brother to be ready to play with him. And this only comes up in my home maybe once every 4-6 weeks.
In short - have an alternative activity to do for Olly so that when you do interrupt the mounting behavior, you can immediately direct him to another activity and then praise him heavily for disengaging from the hump and engaging with the alternative activity.
Please feel free to followup if you need any clarification or more ideas if this doesn't address the behavior.
Worcester, MA Behavior Specialist
MAPP 2016 candidate
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine