Dogs With Behavioral Problems

Why is my dogs having problems? I have two 2 year old cocker spaniel mixes, one male and one female. They are siblings. They jump at everything from sound, movement, wind, even their toys. They haven't had any traumatic events that would cause them to be afraid. Whenever they get scared they run, hide and, shake.


It takes them a long time to calm down if we comfort, rub and hold them. Also we housebroke both but recently they have been pooing mainly and peeing inside the house even if we leave them outside for a while. Also the male will randomly have leg spasms that continue until we touch him.

Lastly we have tried to use kennels, and give more attention but nothing works and if we can't fix this problem soon we will be forced to get rid of them because they are causing my mom to spend too much money on repairing the furniture from losing their minds when they become scared and the smell and damage done to the carpet and wood and lately the dogs have refused to go out. Please help.

By Alexandria from Corona, CA

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July 8, 20100 found this helpful

This is what I would do.
First get them neutered and spayed and rule out physical problems .


I would not comfort them when they act scared , that just reinforces the behavior (act scared = a lot of attention and petting) I would just ignore it.
I would take them out and stay with them until they have done the dead and then reward them .
I also would get some books on dog training from the dog whisperer.

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July 8, 20100 found this helpful

I agree. You have been reinforcing the behavior you want to get rid of. Praise when they are doing things you want them to do. Ignore the ones you don't want them to do.

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July 8, 20100 found this helpful

Agree strongly with Lily May and Artlady in that soothing and cuddling when they're scared might seem the thing to do, but it's not. Also, a trip to the vet is in order: the male's random leg spasms may not be a result of becoming hyperactive when apparently frightened, there could be a physical cause.


Also, if they were house trained and have reverted to going all over the house, you really have to have the vet assess both of them as that can also be a red flag for a physical problem.

Something as seemingly simple as an infestation of fleas or ear mites can produce the behaviors you're describing--rather than fear, it could be confusion or discomfort.
As far as ruling out something that may actually have traumatized them: unless you are always home, never leaving or otherwise not watching every single move they make the door is open to an event that can scare them at any time.

We have a dog with normally "nerves of steel". She has constant access to the backyard via a doggie door. Usually, when we have a thunderstorm, her ears perk up but there's no other nervousness; she won't go out to do her thing until the thunder and lightning stops--unless she absolutely has to go.


Just before Memorial Day this year, we had a pretty intense thunderstorm going on. The dog really had to go, and ran outside quickly. In under a minute, a loud thunderclap and big lightning flash happened and at the same time, the dopey neighbor kids were outside in the storm setting off firecrackers.

Our dog flew inside the house and jumped into the bathtub, shaking. We'd never seen anything like it. All the wrong things apparently happened at the same time.

We called her out of the tub and immediately began playing ball--that is her thing that overrides everything. Within minutes she was back to her happy self. The next thunderstorm, I watched her and her reaction wasn't good. She started to shake. Again, we distracted her focus to the ball. By the next storm, she went and got us the ball.

The point is, if medical reasons are ruled out and you can assume it's behavioral due to a scare or just a high-strung personality, it can still be undone. Try distraction, whatever your dogs have as strong motivators, be it a favorite toy or treat ( in moderation). If you're going to treat, be careful not to treat when they're shaking and whimpering, make them work for it. Sit, stay, gimme paw whatever you use for giving treats, whatever takes their minds off whatever may be scaring them. Also try talking to your vet, who you can bet has seen these behaviors before and can surely give you some feedback on it.

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July 8, 20100 found this helpful

I beong to a dog rescue group and several of the member's dogs have similar issues. They have recently tried something called a "Thundershirt". It has helped for a wide variety of problems. It soothes them, similar to swaddling a new born baby. Also if they are not spayed/nuetered it's very import to do this. It has a calming effect because they are not in a constant state of arousal due to hormones.


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