Unsettled Dog Questions

Discussion in 'Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)' started by Katherine Hope, Aug 9, 2023.

  1. Katherine Hope

    Katherine Hope New Member

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    Unsettled Dog

    I have recently got a 10 month old Belgian Malinois through a friend who needed desperately rehoming due to neglectful circumstances being left permanently outside and on his own. We have had him since Sunday afternoon (06/08/2023) He has become immediately attached to me being the only female in the house. Every time I move, he follows me (which isn’t the problem) He just can’t be without me and if this isn’t a detachment disorder YET, I don’t want it becoming one. He is currently living with myself, my boyfriend and my elderly father. As long as one of us are in the room with him, he’s not too bad and settled quite quickly.
    Another issue I want to address is: We have tried on several occasions to get him to sleep alone downstairs is virtually impossible, as soon as we shut the door he cries and won’t settle AT ALL. We have tried leaving him for 10-15 minutes but the crying gets progressively worse and I have googled and every answer says I can not ignore him crying. We have tried then bringing him upstairs with us and it still takes him an awful long time to settle even though he is with me, jumping on and off the bed, pacing up and down and panting. We have been back in work today (8am-6pm) and he has been with my dad all day and he’s been perfectly fine. We’ve got home, spent some time with him and closed the door on him in a separate room being the living room, left him for 20 minutes and completely out of character he has grabbed things off the coffee table and started ripping it apart (like paperwork and parcels) Any help with the above issues would be greatly appreciated or any advice in order to resolve him being without me and potentially sleeping downstairs on his own?
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  3. CaroleC

    CaroleC Member

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    Toedtoes likes this.
    It really is very early days yet. He is going to need more time to adjust to your ways and his new environment. Does he have his own bed or crate? I would be encouraging him to see this as his own space, and would start now by rewarding him for settling there for gradually increasing lengths of time. He might learn to settle more easily if he has had some exercise first, and a dog will often feel sleepy when he has had a meal. You could also try leaving him with something interesting, like a long-lasting chew, or a Kong with a stuffed and frozen centre.
    Night time can be a problem as you don't want to annoy your neighbours. Would it be possible to move his bed to your room when you go to sleep? That way, if he stirs, he will have the reassurance of knowing that you are there, and you will be able to tell him to settle and go to sleep without getting up. This doesn't have to be forever, it is what I did when re-homing my current Beagle. She actually still has a bed in my bedroom, but has another in the living room and will settle in either of them.
  4. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    CaroleC likes this.
    Dogs are social animals. Their "natural state" as witnessed in feral dogs is to live in family packs - parents and siblings from two or three litters. It isn't until they are several years old that they go out on their own to find a mate and start their own family.

    Now add to that, humans have purposely bred dogs to WANT to be with us. Malinois and German Shepherds have this want bred into them to the extreme. They develop very deep bonds with their person - and that makes them great as police dogs, etc. Unfortunately, it also means that they need to be with us to a major extent.

    Your boy was taken from his mom and siblings at most likely around 8 weeks old and put in a home all by himself. And then he was neglected and left alone for most of the time. He is insecure and confused.

    It's only been a couple days. He doesn't trust you yet, but he needs your company.

    Always be positive with him. Let him follow you around. Talk to him and tell him what you are doing, etc. If you get up to get a drink, tell him "I'm just going to get a drink". The more you talk to him and the more you give him cues as to what is about to happen, the quicker he will make the connections.

    For example, if I say " I gotta go pee", my younger dog runs to the bathroom. If I say "time to potty", he runs to the backdoor. He knows the difference between those. I can even say " I gotta go pee - upstairs" and he will go to the upstairs bathroom instead of the downstairs bathroom.

    Pick a phrase to use for when you leave for the day, like to work. It could be as simple as "be a good boy".

    Then pick a phrase for when you're going out for maybe an hour or two - something like " be back soon".

    And then pick a phrase for when you just go out to grab the mail or take the garbage out, etc - something like "just a sec".

    Use these consistently. As he adjusts, he'll see the connection between the phrase and your absence. And that will reduce his anxiety that you won't come back. He'll understand that if you say " be a good boy", that you will be away for the day and he shouldn't worry.

    My prior dog loved our friends. He decided that THEY needed him to protect them. One friend was notorious for being next to you and just disappearing. She'd be drying the dishes as you washed and in the middle of it, you'd turn to hand her the dish and she'd be gone - completely. Poor Moose-dog would get very upset whenever she disappeared like that. He'd spend the rest of the day looking for her neurotically. We had to teach our friend to always say "I'll be right back" or "bye Moose-dog" so he would know if she was returning or not. If she said "bye Moose-dog", he would settle down and relax. If she said "I'll be right back", he would stand watch until her return.

    Also, give him choices and control of his life as much as possible. That doesn't mean " if you choose to stay here, you get a cookie", but more like choosing whether he prefers to sleep on the floor by your bed or on a bed in hallway. My shepherd literally sleeps UNDER my bed - it's where she feels comfortable.

    Always use positive reinforcement and distraction to get preferred behaviors. Don't use punishment or pain to stop unwanted behaviors. Being positive will help build a bond based on trust. As he learns to trust you, he will become more confident in himself and will become more independent. Think of him like a child. If you always reprimand the child whenever they make a spelling error, they will come to hate spelling and they will learn to fear your reaction whenever they have to spell a word in your presence. On the flipside, if you always praise your child when they spell a word correctly, and you encourage them in a positive way to try again if they make a mistake, they will learn to love spelling and they will look forward to showing you how well they spell.

    At bedtime, establish a routine. Give him a chew or kong to focus on as he settles down. My dogs get a cookie each night when I go to bed. I keep them in a cupboard in the bedroom. Tornado-dog will run upstairs and sit in front of the cupboard when I say "let's go to bed". Cat-dog does a nose dive under the bed. They KNOW that cookie is coming. And they know that after the cookie it's time to go to sleep. It gives them structure and that eases the hyper excitement.

    Give him tons of love, tons of positive reinforcement for desireable behaviors, and engage him in conversations. The more he hears your voice and the inflections, tones, and words, the more he will be able to predict YOUR behaviors. And that will teach him that you are reliable and consistent and trustworthy.

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