You are here:

Canine Behavior/Why us the dog acting this way

Advertisement


Question
Let me first say my friend literally stays in bed 4 to 5 days a week . And she has a good size hunting dog. There are also 2 other dogs smaller one of them is mine. When she's in bed these days she yells at dogs whenever they make any noise.  And the days she isn't sleeping she still never leaves her room. She doesn't yell at them as much. But she does. Question.  I have started staying at her house. And though her dog has always liked me and would lay with me alot. It's to the point he follows me every and hides from her when she starts yelling. And doesn't listen to her at all. He sleeps with me every night. I feel bad he needs to be following my friend around. If this us the reason why he doesn't act like her dog how do we fix this. F84 some reason she blames me. My opinion I think it's her constant screaming at them. Thank you

Answer
Thank you for your question. You are in a bit of a tough position. I am concerned for your friend that she is having health or emotional issues that cause her to spend days at a time in bed and that whatever is going on for her personally is clearly affecting her patience for the normal behaviors of the dogs in the house.

Her dog is likely spending more time with you because the unpredictable irritability of your friend is frightening the dog. Dogs are very sensitive to the moods of the people around them. Many dogs respond to any extreme emotion such as angry yelling, crying or even excited cheering (like men watching sports) by demonstrating what are known as appeasement behaviors which are designed to reduce tension and avoid conflict. Appeasement behaviors include things like lowering their head, offering "puppy-dog eyes", cowering, and even leaving the room when they feel the tension rise.

My dogs leave the room if one particular family member gets angry as she yells and starts walking with a heavier footfall and it scares my dogs. One of my dogs leaves the room if I get irritated with my laptop and start pressing the keyboard keys more firmly and mumbling a particular swear phrase under my breath. He knows that this behavior and phrase (even when whispered) is a signal of my anger rising. He leaves the room and I have to go reassure him that I'm not mad at him.

Some dogs are significantly more sensitive than others and it sounds like your friend's dog is quite sensitive to her moods.

The best way to address this will be for your friend to address her physical and/or emotional health issues. When she is feeling better and more stable in her own responses, her dog will feel safer in the space. As long she is yelling at what feels like unpredictable and/or unprovoked moments from the dog's perspective, the dog will continue to feel that the environment is unsafe.

If you are calm and quiet most of the time (speaking in a normal speaking voice or softer), you probably represent a sense of consistency and calmness that the dog feels is safer and so he is choosing to stay near you.

I can tell you that my sound-sensitive dog has taught me a great deal about speaking quietly and containing my occasional irritations. We all get annoyed now and then, but with a sensitive dog in our lives, we have to adapt how we respond to that annoyance to make sure that we are never the source of our dog's fear. It takes practice to change our responses, but if we are aware that our actions are negatively affecting our dog, that is the first step to trying to make it better. Perhaps your friend can close her bedroom door and play her radio or get a white noise machine to block out the sound of the dogs from the other room so that they don't upset her, causing her to yell at them. And then, if she makes a point of sitting quietly with him and feeding him meals and tasty treats by hand, it will help him come to trust her more again. But both halves of that would be necessary to make a start at helping repair their relationship.

You are not to blame for the situation, you just happen to be present when the dog is feeling insecure and looking for a source of comfort and safety.

I wish you and your friend well, and I strongly encourage her to speak with her doctor about what she's coping with and how that's affecting her mood and behavior and how that's affecting her relationship with her dog. The doctor will be able to help her address those issues so that she can then feel able to focus on helping her dog regain his trust for her.

Please feel free to followup if I can of any further assistance.

Jody, CPDT-KA, APDT
Masters Candidate - Animals and Public Policy (Animal Behavior)
Tufts Cummings School of Medicine
Worcester, MA Behavior Specialist
http://NutzAboutMutz.com

Canine Behavior

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT

Expertise

IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com/ If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.

Experience

I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

Organizations
I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications
http://NutzAboutMutz.com ; http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

Education/Credentials
I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.