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Ask Doctor H Your Own Question
Doctor H
Doctor H, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 299
Experience:  Have practiced small animal veterinary medicine in a large city for 5.5 years
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My dog has just started scratching the door in themiddle of

Customer Question

My dog has just started scratching the door in themiddle of the night after he has been put to bed. He never wants to go out - just to sniff in the garden.

I found him lying on his blanket on the kitchen floor and not in his basket. he is seven years old and we re-homed him 5 years ago. Ther have never been any problems before.

My partner has just retired and is now at home with him more. But we have kept his routine the same.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Doctor H replied 3 years ago.

Doctor H :

Hi, this is Doctor H and I would be happy to assist you with Charlie.

Doctor H :

I'm sorry to hear that this is happening. Does he sleep in a different area than you and your partner?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : Charlie sleeps in the kitchen which is located downstairs. This has only just started happening in the last four weeks.
Doctor H :

Okay, and where is the door located?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : The door to the front room is located at the front if the kitchen. The backdoor is at the back of the house in a passage way which he cannot get into unless we let him out.
Doctor H :

Okay, and which door is he scratching at?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : He is scratching at the door to the front room.
Doctor H :

And where is your bedroom in relation to all of this?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : The bedroom is upstairs at the front of the house.
Doctor H :

Okay, how do you get from the bedroom to the front room?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : We have to go downstairs .
Doctor H :

Okay, do you think Charlie is scratching at the door in order to go to your bedroom?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : Not sure. He may be.this has just happened in the last four weeks.
Doctor H :

Right.

Doctor H :

Does he follow your partner around a lot?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : He does if he goes to the kitchen to make coffee or get something to eat. If my partner goes to put something outside he will go to the window and look out for him.
Doctor H :

Yeah, I think it may be some mild separation anxiety. I

Doctor H :

think that's why he's pawing at the door in the middle of the night

Doctor H :

How food motivated is Charlie?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : How can we stop it?
Doctor H :

I'm going to discuss that with you. Does he really like treats or other kinds of food?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : Charlie is very motivated by food. He is always on the look out for something and will pick up anything that he can get at when he is on his walk. We do try to pull him away.
Doctor H :

Okay. Do you have any food puzzles for him?

Doctor H :

Like a Kong toy, the Twist N Treat, the Magic Mushroom?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : Charlie likes all kind of food. We used to put biscuits inside his Kong toys but he bit through the rubber.
Doctor H :

Oh man.

Doctor H :

Okay.

Doctor H :

Well use his love of food to distract him from following your partner throughout the day.

Doctor H :

Also give him a food toy or something close before you go to bed.

Doctor H :

Another thing is to consider your separation cues, the things you do prior to leaving/going to bed.

Doctor H :

Do those things but do not leave/go to bed. This will desensitize him to those cues.

Doctor H :

Make sure he is getting lots of walks/daily activity to adequately stimulate him.

Doctor H :

Additionally, do not respond when he scratches at the door. It will reinforce the behavior. You can start doing something called graduated departure training.

Doctor H :

That means leaving him for small amounts of time during training sessions. Play the TV or the radio prior to the training session, leave for 1-5 minutes and then come back. You can give a treat/food toy prior to departure.

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : We always tell him when we are going to bed. He goes in his basket and he gets a treat before we turn the kitchen light off.
Doctor H :

Gradually increase the amount of time that you are away from him. Hopefully that should be sufficient to decrease the anxiety.

Doctor H :

Other adjunctive treatments are Anxitane made by Virbac, the Thundershirt,, and something called dog appeasing pheromone (available as a collar and a diffuser).

Doctor H :

Does he ever act anxious when you tell him that?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : No sometimes he even puts himself to bed in his basket without being told.
Doctor H :

Well that's good. Like I said, this is likely mlid separation anxiety.

Doctor H :

Anyway, I would try that and see what does/doesn't work. You can also have some bloodwork (cbc, chemistry, thyroid) done to make sure there isn't anything else going on medically speaking.

Doctor H :

Do you have any other questions for me?

JACUSTOMER-tsgy8h76- : No.
Doctor H :

Okay. Well I hope you are satisfied, if you so, kindly rate my service so I may receive credit for our discussion. Otherwise, indicate how else I may be able to help you.