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Anxious Border Collie


Woodsy
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Hi Everyone,

 

Its been a long time since i've posted here but we have an issue with one of our border collies.

 

Indi is 5 years old and is normally a very quiet Dog, rarely makes a noise. We moved into a house 18 months ago and things were fine until about 2 months ago.

 

We have neighbours on one side who argue alot and slam doors and Indi has all of a sudden associated their voices and yelling with banging, She hates thunder storms and fireworks. The Neighbours argue daily and doors etc are slammed alot but recently she has been more anxoius when she hears their voices.

 

Indi will bark and jump at the doors for us to let her in but i refuse to let her inside the house with us as i think that will make it even worse, so we put her in the outside laundry where she goes quiet.

 

If i am outside and they start fighting or slamming doors Indi will come and find me in the yard and hide behind me or hide under the car in the garage where i'm working, I mean its good she feels she is safe with me but my partner and i both work long days and we dont want her to hurt herself if we arnt home.

 

We have tried some of the rescue remedies that go under the tongue etc and although it does make some difference ( placebo or not? ) it still doesnt stop her.

 

Now heres the other part, she will get anxious and be constantly around me for no reason some days, and we have found that if there is an approaching thunderstorm even many km away she will sense it. Call me crazy i dont know but it happens.

 

Could is be a hearing issue? Could her hearing all of a sudden become more sensitive? I think its more the fact that she associates the neighbours with loud noises.

 

Sorry for the long winded post.

 

Cheers Josh

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Is Indi a strictly outside dog? It's entirely likely that the arguing neighbors are stressing her out badly. I have several working dogs who simply do not like yelling. I don't force them to endure it just because I think they need to. I try to limit their exposure to the things that scare them or stress them out. She clings to you because your presence is a source of comfort and safety to her. If you're not willing to let her in when the neighbors are scaring her, it's likely that she will just get worse over time.

 

Dogs sense changes in barometric pressure so it's no surprise that she reacts to impending storms before you're aware of them.

 

I doubt her hearing has become more sensitive. I think it's likely that the yelling and slamming scares her and she's simply reacting to something she can't get away from. If you crated her in the house while you're not there she might feel safer and less stressed.

 

J.

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I will also ask: is Indi an outside dog only?

It's a fallacy that comforting a dog in times of stress or fear reinforces their fear. Rather, comforting a dog helps them by showing that you are safe and trustworthy, which helps lessen their fear. Just like comforting a child. If a dog is left alone with the scariness, that is simply prolonging and deepening their fear, because they can't make it end or go away., and they lack the capacity to logic it away, "Oh, it's just the neighbors yelling." In fact, as you're seeing, fears can actually build and compound over time.

So if you can let her into the house when she's upset, you're doing her a service, not harm. Dogs do not get better by being left alone to face fear triggers.

If she is an outside-only dog, though, and you really can't/won't bring her inside, perhaps you could put a small radio in the outside laundry room to play a local radio station or something. That might help blanket the sounds outside that scare her.

~ Gloria

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We do let them in of a night and through the day, but feel that if we let her into the house when she barks and jumps at the door that it will only make her behaviour worse in the long run because she will know that if she jumps and barks at the door that we will let them in.

 

She has a safe spot in the outside laundry that we made for her thats really snug and protected but she wont go in there herself we need to go outside and tell her to go in there.

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My old dog was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks from the time I brought him home. He would bark, loudly, as long as the noises were happening. The only thing that would quiet him would be for me to sit and have my hands on him. (He was still scared, but would settle that way.) I gave up, and let him come into bed with me on thunderstorm or fireworks nights, and he would sleep as long as I was touching him. Eventually, when he'd hear the noises, he'd just go up to the bed of his own accord, jump on it, and settle - whether I was there or not.

 

I figured he'd learned that the bed was a safe spot during scary times. I was happy to let him have it - this method of comforting himself was much better than his not having any way of coping.

 

I'm all for comforting and giving respite. I hate that your dog has to live near horrible people who predictably act like that.

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I'm seconding what others have said. The thing that's worked for Molly and her tendency to 'lose it' at things that happen around the house (and for a while that was her reflection in the door, noises outside, everything) was just to get up and look, say 'it's okay' and give her some comforting/affection.


The result of that is not her barking more. She rarely responds to anything at home now and when she does all I have to do is glance her way and say that it's okay. She then either moves on with her day or she comes to me to get a hug (literally - dog likes hugs, puts her head in my chest for them) and then moves on.

 

Sometimes they need reassurance. That's okay.

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Your dog sounds frightened beyond her ability to reason. She likely can't think, even in her regular dog way, when she's this terrified.

 

You could try letting her inside and encouraging her to settle in her spot, wherever that is. You don't make a big fuss of it, you don't fuss, but you let her in.

 

If being in the same room with you helps, then that's what you do. If she needs to hide in the bathroom or closet, then let her.

 

Cooing over her and 'sympathizing' isn't what you're after. It's 'this is scary for you, but it's okay.' From your descriptions, the more you leave her outside when the Scary Stuff is happening, the more she's likely to escalate as it goes on.

 

If you could put a dog door in the laundry room and teach her how to use it, she could come in if she's scared while you're away. It might take some time to train her to do this, but it would give her a safe space.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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