Monday, May 12, 2008

Doggie Woes

I know on this blog we talk a lot about horses, but today I think I'll change it up because I need help with a problem and I'm hoping someone out there might have a good suggestion or two. Today I'm writing about dogs. I think many horse people are also dog lovers. It does seem to go hand in hand. I'm not sure why that is, maybe we're all simply animal lovers.

So, we have two dogs. They're wonderful dogs. They keep me company while I write all day. They like to go in the car with me. They wait patiently for breakfast and dinner and they are just good dogs all the way around. One of the dogs is a big, actually HUGE Rhodesian Ridgeback. Ridgebacks were bred in Africa to hunt lions. Basically they're big hound dogs. Our Ridgeback is named Java and his favorite past time is to sleep. I can't ever imagine this dog hunting lions. He's a tad spoiled. He used to sleep in the bed with us until I finally had enough. He weighs as much as another person at 115 pounds. Now he has a dog bed in our room and he gets a blanket put on him every night because he gets cold. This was something my husband started and I used to think he was being ridiculous, but you will now find me every night covering Java up. However, our big lug of a dog is not the problem.

We have another dog and her name is Miley (yes we watch a lot of Hannah Montana around here). We got Miley when she was about 4 months old last year at the pound. We think she is half shephard and half lab. She is the sweetest, smartest dog I think I've ever had. She's playful, good with the kids and is a good listener. But here is the problem--she paces the house all night. She gets a ton of exercise because we run them daily at the dogs' beach, but it doesn't matter. She paces. I know this is likely a guarding thing and I should be grateful that she is on the look out, but we have hard wood floors (not a big house either so I can hear her from the back to the fornt easily) and I am a super light sleeper, so it's a problem. Not only does she pace, she will get in her bed (in our room too), for a bit, then get up and pace, then jump on our bed and lick my face, then get off and it goes on like this all night long. What is she trying to tell me? She's been exercised, fed and watered and given a lot of attention throughout the day. Now we do know she was likely abused before we got her and we have worked through many isssues around shyness that she had. She is still a bit insecure, but she trusts us completely. Do you think she paces because she's anxious? I'm just curious as to what some of you think, because I'm tired. Of course right now she is sound asleep.

We'll get through it and I think eventually she'll learn to sleep when her family sleeps, but if anyone out there has any ideas on what I can try please let me know. I may have to go and take a nap. I think if I tried to write right now it would be a jumbled mess.




Kit Ehrman said...

Hi Michele,
You and your husband are dear. I just think it's so sweet that you cover your one dog with a blanket. As for the girl, you probably don't want to crate her at night, but maybe she won't mind if she's crated right next to your bed. She's got to be wearing herself out. Though, she may find a way to keep you awake being in a crate, too.

To solve your sensitivity to sounds at night, you could acclimate yourself to the sound of a fan or white noise machine, but finding a solution for your dog would be best. Have you talked to your vet? Good luck!

Jan Scarbrough said...

At least the dog doesn't fling herself off the bed chasing cats like mine does!

A good dog trainer might have an idea about how to solve your problem. An in-home visit might be worth it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Michele,

Glad I'm not the only one who covers up a dog at night! With me, it's my geriatric Lab - those old bones get cold!

Sounds like Miley may have started out being restless or nervous, but now it's just a habit. So you may have to help her break it. The crate suggestion is a good one, if she's crate trained. If the crate is going to upset her, that's not going to work.

I raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and we use what we call tie-downs on young dogs. A tie-down is just a length of plastic-coated steel cable with a snap on each end, or a length of light chain with a snap on each end. Attach one end to something very solid - I have a couple of them attached to my bedframe - and the other to the dog. Since the tie-down is only about three feet long and part of that length is taken up by being wrapped around whatever it's fastened to, she's got room to stand up, lie down, and move around a little bit, but not to go wandering or pacing. Be sure and praise her when you clip the tie-down to her collar so she thinks it's a good thing!

A caveat - never leave a tied-down dog where you can neither see nor hear them! It's hard but not impossible to get tangled up, and some dogs, especially ones not accustomed to this sort of restraint, will panic. Yes, sort of like a horse. :)

Obviously if her solution to being tied down is to pace at the end of the tie-down, this won't work, but it may be worth a try.

Good luck with this!

Mary Paine said...

Hi Michele,

You have two very lucky dogs! You and your family are heartwarming the way you care for them.

I thought the same thing as Kit, maybe speak with a vet. Also, this is probably a crazy idea, but what about one of those machines that lull babies to sleep? Maybe it would have a soothing effect on the dog as well, or just be company for her.

Good luck with getting some sleep. Let us know how it works out, which will hopefully be quickly!


A.K. Alexander said...

Thanks for all of the suggestions, but you won't believe this we may have "stumbled" on to an answer unknowingly.

A couple of nights ago my husband was outside with her and when he came back in she didn't wnat to come inside. He told me to let her in when I went to bed, and I forgot. I know--bad mom. Next morning we found her up on the patio furniture which is pretty cushy and she seemed pretty darn happy. Then last night the same thing happened only this time I let her stay out to see if this wopuld work. The patio is right off our bedroom door so I knew I would hear her if she wanted back in. She did, but not until 5:00 a.m. when my husband gets up and takes her for her run on the beach. The Ridgeback sleeps in. LOL. So, maybe all she wanted was to sleep outside. She has longer fur and and she doesn't appear nearly as restless even during the day while I write. If I get some sleep, I don't even mind her getting up on the patio furntiture.

Fingers crossed this works.

Thanks again for all the kind words and suggestions. It is a zoo around here. There are times when dogs and cats and a little kid has made their way into our bed. That can be crowded.