How to Correct My Confused Dog's Sneaky Behavior?

WearyWalker

New member
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Good evening all who stumble upon this,

I'm having a reoccurring issue with my dog's behavior and I was hoping someone could help me figure this out. This post is really long, so I apologize in advance.

I've recently noticed my dog becoming increasingly sneaky. At first I thought she was confusing punishment for doing something wrong with not being allowed to walk around the living room, but now I'm starting to think her getting caught just re-enforced the sneaky behaviors she's always had. In the beginning, it didn't even seem like she was attempting to steal food or go anywhere she wasn't allowed, it just seemed like she wanted to pace around the house.

This only becomes a noticeable issue when I'm in another room. Whenever I open a door, she darts back to one of her beds and crouches down, a clear sign of doggy guilt as if I caught her the act of doing something wrong. The thing is, my dog has full range of the living room. She has two beds on opposite sides of the room, one by our heater when it gets cold, and another by the window when the sun is shining. The only place she's not allowed to go to in the living room is the couch (this comes in later). I always thought she understood these rules, as she has no problems with pacing around the house when I'm standing in the kitchen or sitting in the living room. It just becomes a completely different situation when I come out of a room.

My dog has been doing the darting thing for a long time. I figured she was just scared of the sound of the door opening. I typically dealt with it by just ignoring her when she darts back across the room, as I felt like if I didn't punish her, she'd figure out that I didn't care. It seems she's never figured it out, but recent events are starting to make me doubt the door being the issue.

One day after a walk, I caught her jumping from my couch after I came out of the bathroom from washing my hands. I didn't really get a chance to scold her about this as as soon as I opened the door, she ran back to her bed like she always does. I decided to just start keeping an eye out for this behavior so I could correct it.

The next day I repeated my actions, only this time I didn't close the door all the way, I just sat quietly behind it. Sure enough, she ran straight to the couch the second she deemed I wasn't paying attention. I shouted no, crated her, and went about my day.
We repeated this for about a week until she stopped the behavior. She'd start to walk towards the couch, stop, and then go back to her bed. I realized I wouldn't be able to keep her off the couch while I wasn't home, so I opted to just blocking my couch off with loud things that would scare her if she bumped into them. I figured the issue was solved and began to relax my guard with her. This was around the time I started noticing the sneaky behavior increase.

About two week ago, I went into my bathroom to wash my hands again. I didn't close the door all the way, as I knew I was only going to be there for a second. When I went to dry my hands, I noticed my dog standing by the door, peaking between the crack. The second she saw me, she darted back to her bed and started crouching. It seems she's learned that I don't always close the door, and now she's started to watch me to see if I'm paying attention.

It's gotten to the point that if I go into my room and leave the door ajar, she refuses to move. I can see her from across the room just staring at me. The second I close the door, I start to hear her feet on the ground. If she starts to move and my door is ajar, she'll turn tail as soon as she sees me. It's important to note that she still acts completely normal when I'm sitting in the same room with her, this behavior only kicks back up when I'm in another room with the door closed or ajar.

At night, when my door is closed, she gets worse. She'll start to pace back and forth from her bed to my door at all types of hours of the night. If I open the door to see what her deal is, she runs back to her bed. A minute or two after I close the door to go back to bed, she starts it up again.
She's stopped using her other beds or eating when she thinks I'm watching her from another room, but she's fine doing either when I'm in the same room as her. If my door is ajar, she opts to just stare at me constantly, waiting for me to either close the door or reenter the room with her to literally do anything. I constantly catch her peaking in my doorways and running back to her bed. It's driving me nuts and I feel like by doing nothing, I'm re-enforcing her sneaky behavior.

How do I get her to understand that I don't care about her wandering around the living room and stop her from running away the second she sees me? I don't know which behavior I should try to correct, the fact the she only wanders when I close the door, or the running away as soon as I open it. I don't want to have to crate her for long periods of time, but at this point I'm at a loss for what to do.

Thank you so much for all your time reading this, and I appreciate any advice I can get.

Sincerely,
WearyWalker.
 

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linda2147

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
New Hampshire
the dog is afraid of you. that's why she is always on guard to see what you are doing and what punishment awaits her if you think she did something wrong. If she does something wrong do not scold her or hit her or holler at her, try to ignore it and start over. She wants to please you she just doesn't know what you want her to do because everything she does is wrong and gets punished for it.

If she steals food put baby gates up in the doorway so she can't get to it, if she gets on the couch block it when you are out, if she wants to go in your bedroom with you encourage her to do it.

Right now you have her so confused she doesn't know what to expect from you. You have to earn her trust. encourage her to try new things, give her a treat and praise when she does something right, redirect her to something else when she gets it wrong. 'She is so nervous now she is constantly looking to see where you are and hides the minute she sees you.

You've made her a nervous Nelly and if you don't change your training ways you will ruin her if you haven't already. Praising and treats works better than always trying to correct what you don't like.
 

WearyWalker

New member
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Original Poster
Hello Linda2147,

Thank you for your response, but it seems a little emotionally charged.
I'll add a note at the bottom to reiterate this, but she still doesn't have a problem moving around when I'm with her, so I seriously doubt shes afraid of me. For example, when I'm sitting in the living room, she'll moves to her other bed just to be closer to me. When I'm in the kitchen making a sandwich, she's munching on her dog food. If I throw her a dental stick, she'll run to her bed across the room to eat it. These are things we do every day. The issue only comes out when I'm in another room and not staring directly at her.
She seems to just not understand what's okay and what's not okay when I'm not sitting there telling her if it is or not. As I've said, my dog has always darted when I opened the door. She's been doing this for a long time. It's like opening the door resets her into "input command" mode, but with some weird guilt about doing something that I didn't tell her to do. My response has always been to ignore it.
This would mean that you're implying that I've made her a nervous nelly by doing nothing at all, yet the answer to fixing her sneaky behavior is also to do nothing about it. I also have a hard time believing that the one time I put my foot down about an issue, its brought constant fear into her life, when that fear seems to have been there the whole time. It seems I'm being ask to gain the trust of a dog who doesn't seem to trust their own self. So let's just start from there.
I'd like to know how to encourage her to do her own thing when I'm not telling her to do it. The couch remains blocked off, so my dog literally can't get in trouble for doing anything right now. The thing is, if I'm not in the same room as her, she won't do anything, either. How do I encourage her to do something other then stare at me or my door when she's not the main focus at the time?
Should I just give her treats for moving when I'm in another room? But she'll probably just dart when I open the door. What about giving her treats when I get up, so she'll associate me opening the door with something good?
Should I spend more time with doors wide open and fling treats all over the place in the other room to get her to move? What about distractions? Do you think new toys could give her something to do?
I need suggestions to get this ball rolling so I can actually reward her for doing something. Right now we're at a stand-still.

Thank you for your time,
WearyWalker
 
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Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
Hello and welcome! :) I agree with Linda that the dog is fearful of you, she may have been that way from the beginning, but your yelling at her, and punishing her so harshly like that, is making matters much worse than they should be. What breed of dog is she, how old and how long have you had her?

I recommend you call her over to you in a calm and positive way to give her any kinds of treats, stop throwing them at her, that's something people do with a feral dog who just happens upon their property. Not a good way to treat a pet, they are part of the family.

Can't you put a blanket or sheet on one end of the couch, and have a place for her there? My dog (and cat) are allowed on all my furniture, including my bed, and I do keep covers on them, something easy to wash when needed.

Just sit on the couch next to the cover, have a small treat in hand, pat the couch and call her up there, then tell her good girl and give her the treat. If she goes off the cover one day, keep your cool. Calmly tell her 'no', you need to stay here, then pat the covered section to help her understand what you want.

Linda is right, she wants to please you and make you happy, but you have to show her in a loving way what you want, stay positive and back off on the strict discipline and yelling....I really hope you're not hitting her at all.

You say she's always watching out for you, but you are doing the same with her. There's a tension in the house that should not be there. Only you can change course and make it more positive, friendly and calm for the both of you. You can do it if you start now and change your ways, her behavior will follow. Seems that even though she knows she can go to her beds or nibble her food if you're in the kitchen, she's still fearful of doing anything that may make you angry. She's walking on eggs around you, too much punishment and in my opinion, it's not needed.

Please adopt a change of attitude, be more calm, bond with her by calling her over just to pet her, have her sit by you on the couch when you watch TV, gently give her treats by hand and quiet praise. Leave that crate alone for awhile, do you even have to use a crate for her at all?
 

linda2147

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
New Hampshire
have you had the dog since she was a pup or did she have a previous owner that may have cause some of her anxiety? Is she on a schedule? dogs like a routine so feed, walk, play with her the same time every day, she will come to look forward to this "bonding" time with you. Is she good on recall? If so take her someplace like an open field or woods and let her run, exercise is good for her. Get a rope toy and play tug of war with her and let her win, this will build confidence in herself.

Take her different places, show her different things, if she backs off and seems afraid comfort her, assure her its ok, this will desentize her to different situations. you have to help her get over her fears, it will take time and patience but its necessary or she could become a "fear bitter". The absolute worst thing that can happen.

Fear bitters are unpredictable as you never know what will trigger a fear attack. She isn't biting because she is aggressive, she's afraid and its the only way she knows how to protect herself from something she is afraid of. Leave doors open, encourage her to follow you into other rooms, praise and a treat when she does. If she hangs back let her be, in time she will want to be where you are and follow you. I once took in a rescue shepherd, this dog had been badly abused and all she knew was the crate. I worked many many hours with her to get her over her many fears.

If she is good with other dogs and you have a friend that has a dog have the dog come to your house, interact with the dog and she may come to you for attention. Another dog around may be able to show her how to interact with you. You'd be surprised at how much another dog could teach her. I don't suggest taking her to a dog park as all the dogs running around and at her may overwhelm her. Let her learn at her own pace, take it slow, one day at a time, one problem at a time. If you work with her at her pace, she'll come around
 

WearyWalker

New member
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Original Poster
Hello Alpha1,

Thank you for the response, but I feel like you are also reading between the lines and jumping to the wrong conclusion.

If telling my dog no (I only have to shout it because she's literally in the act of doing it and across the room from me) and putting her in her crate (an act she does on her own accord all the time or by me simply pointing at it or opening the door to it) is wrong, then I don't want to be right. I got those tips from training forums, and they work just fine. As I've said, she's no longer gets on the couch. In fact, I don't even train her for it anymore because the couch has been blocked off.

My dog is 13, a Chihuahua/Fox Terrier Mix and I've had her since she was a puppy. I got her when I was just a kid, so there's a lot of rules I've changed now that I don't live with my parents. She's never been allowed on the couch, she's a shed monster, so I just kept that rule in place. She use to not be allowed in the living room, but I changed that as I live in a one bedroom apartment (It's almost exclusively all living room) and I never really liked her not being allowed in the living room in the first place.

I don't actually throw the treats at her, it was just an expression. She usually hears me ruffling the bag and comes running. I tell her to sit and put the treat in her mouth. This is just to calm her down, as she'll get a bit of your finger if you try to give her the treat while she's too excited.
Her beds are orientated in a way that she can always be near me. Her bed by the window is right next to my couch. Her bed by the heater is right across from the kitchen. She use to have a bed by my bedroom door, but me opening the door in the morning use to scare her awake. My apartment is tiny, there's no other really good places for dog beds that won't have me stepping over her and disturbing her to travel.
Again, these punishments are not strict. My dog does not get spanked, she just gets one word commands when she's in the act of doing something wrong. It's bare minimal, and I don't think that's too unreasonable.

I find it hard to believe she's scared of me when she's all tail wags and following the second I greet her after I leaving a room. She only looks guilty when I don't say anything to her. Hints why I thought ignoring was re-enforcing the behavior.

I only had to watch her for a week to make sure she her understood that the couch was the no-no factor. She had a pretty repetitive process in which she'd only hop on the couch when I went into the bathroom to wash my hands. I have no idea what made her she choose this time.
Again, I live in a one bed room apartment, it doesn't take much to see her out of the corner of my eye when my door is open. Not to mention, it's hard to miss two beady eyes peeking in at you when you're in the process of doing homework or washing your hands. Sometimes I won't even see her looking at me, but her running away from the door when I turn around is a dead giveaway.

My dog just likes to stare, she does it when I'm in the living room with her. I'm getting use to it.

She has a large crate with a mat in it that she gets into randomly without prompting. We use it for traveling, but I leave it open as she climbs into it when I'm cleaning or doing something noisy. She likes her crate as much as she likes my bathtub. It's just a dog thing.

Since the first post on the thread, I've started just calling her over to the door when I hear her in the process of running. Instead of ignoring her, I greet her and pet her. Now when I open the door while she's in the process of doing something, she just looks at me and wags her tail. I think this is progress, but that initial dart reaction is still there. We will work on it.

Thank you for your time,
WearyWalker
 

WearyWalker

New member
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Original Poster
Hello Linda2147,

I have had my dog since she was a puppy. She's a small dog (part chihuahua) and she's always been a bit of an anxious mess. She's always had an odd mix of what we call "Guilty Dog Syndrome" that we think stems from separation anxiety, but we're not really sure what it is. She's always been like this, though.

When she was a puppy, she use to do this thing where she'd slide under the holes of our fence and "run away" if she though you weren't watching her. She'd never get close to the fence if you were watching her, she'd just do her business, stand by the door and stare at you until you let her back in (sounds familiar). If she successfully got under the fence, she'd get about a yard from the house and then just stand there. If you took too long to realize she was gone, she'd eventually just sit in front of the front door and just wait for you to go looking for her.

Thing is, she always knew what she was doing was wrong (we'd "At" at her when we caught her in the process of trying to run away) so she'd dart off when you'd try to call her back or if she realized you saw her sitting in front of the door (this should sound familiar, too). Her own guilt prevented her from coming back, regardless of if you tried to show her you weren't mad or offered her treats for coming back.

We broke this habit by ignoring her or acting like we weren't looking for her. She'd eventually forget that she "ran away" if you went outside and sat down or started walking in the opposite direction. She'd come running after you with her tail wagging, ready to play. No punishments or positive re-enforcement needed. She just needed time to get out of her own head. Now we can walk her without a leash or let her outside without watching her with no issues at all. She'll either stick by you or wait in front of the door when she's done. My dog just always thinks she's in trouble. Guilty Dog Syndrome.

She's got a pretty normal schedule. She gets a walk in the morning, after which she gets fed. I have to go to school after that. When I come home from class, it's a bit of a free for all which just depends on if I have homework. She gets her last walk for the day and then dinner at a reoccurring time, though.

She loses interest in toys by either completely destroying them in a day or forgetting about them if you're not playing with her. We play tug-or-war all the time, though. She's a big fan of mauling her own bed. She'll chew at it and roll all over the place it you put your foot under it.
She's got little dog syndrome, so she really doesn't like other dogs. She'll only tolerate a sniff or two before she wants them away from her.
I'm going to keep working on this. We'll make progress, eventually.

Thank you for your time,
WearyWalker
 

Alpha1

Pack Leader and Lover
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
Hello Alpha1,

Thank you for the response, but I feel like you are also reading between the lines and jumping to the wrong conclusion.
If telling my dog no (I only have to shout it because she's literally in the act of doing it and across the room from me) and putting her in her crate (an act she does on her own accord all the time or by me simply pointing at it or opening the door to it) is wrong, then I don't want to be right. I got those tips from training forums, and they work just fine. As I've said, she's no longer gets on the couch. In fact, I don't even train her for it anymore because the couch has been blocked off.

My dog is 13, a Chihuahua/Fox Terrier Mix and I've had her since she was a puppy. I got her when I was just a kid, so there's a lot of rules I've changed now that I don't live with my parents. She's never been allowed on the couch, she's a shed monster, so I just kept that rule in place. She use to not be allowed in the living room, but I changed that as I live in a one bedroom apartment (It's almost exclusively all living room) and I never really liked her not being allowed in the living room in the first place.

I don't actually throw the treats at her, it was just an expression. She usually hears me ruffling the bag and comes running. I tell her to sit and put the treat in her mouth. This is just to calm her down, as she'll get a bit of your finger if you try to give her the treat while she's too excited.

Her beds are orientated in a way that she can always be near me. Her bed by the window is right next to my couch. Her bed by the heater is right across from the kitchen. She use to have a bed by my bedroom door, but me opening the door in the morning use to scare her awake. My apartment is tiny, there's no other really good places for dog beds that won't have me stepping over her and disturbing her to travel.

Again, these punishments are not strict. My dog does not get spanked, she just gets one word commands when she's in the act of doing something wrong. It's bare minimal, and I don't think that's too unreasonable.

I find it hard to believe she's scared of me when she's all tail wags and following the second I greet her after I leaving a room. She only looks guilty when I don't say anything to her. Hints why I thought ignoring was re-enforcing the behavior.

I only had to watch her for a week to make sure she her understood that the couch was the no-no factor. She had a pretty repetitive process in which she'd only hop on the couch when I went into the bathroom to wash my hands. I have no idea what made her she choose this time.

Again, I live in a one bed room apartment, it doesn't take much to see her out of the corner of my eye when my door is open. Not to mention, it's hard to miss two beady eyes peeking in at you when you're in the process of doing homework or washing your hands. Sometimes I won't even see her looking at me, but her running away from the door when I turn around is a dead giveaway.
My dog just likes to stare, she does it when I'm in the living room with her. I'm getting use to it.

She has a large crate with a mat in it that she gets into randomly without prompting. We use it for traveling, but I leave it open as she climbs into it when I'm cleaning or doing something noisy. She likes her crate as much as she likes my bathtub. It's just a dog thing.

Since the first post on the thread, I've started just calling her over to the door when I hear her in the process of running. Instead of ignoring her, I greet her and pet her. Now when I open the door while she's in the process of doing something, she just looks at me and wags her tail. I think this is progress, but that initial dart reaction is still there. We will work on it.
Thanks for telling more about your dog and your situation, much appreciated. I was just going by the words you wrote in your first post, and since I don't know you, didn't know much about the dog or your home, etc. I just tried to figure out what may be happening and what might be wrong.

Now that you've said some more, I don't think the dog is fearful of you like I initially thought. Even when you first mentioned the crate as punishment, I had a much more negative impression in my mind, now what you're doing doesn't seem so bad at all. The terrier in her may make her a little mischievous, but she really sounds like a good girl.

It sounds like you're doing all the right things, and good that you're greeting her at the door now. I think over the years we all grow a closer bond with our dogs, that's so good for us and them. Glad you're thinking so much of her and working on making things better. :)
 

Jonathan

Best friend to 4 sets of paws :)
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
California
Im thinking your dog may have seperation anxiety, and at the ripe young age of 13, she may be experiancing memory lapse/loss, or other things that can occur in older dogs. Her jumping on the couch while your away, is her way of acting out to relieve her anxiety, when she hears you coming, she is afraid of getting in trouble and runs off. Her crate is her "room" so to say, she feels safe in there, unless ita made to be a negative space. If you talk things over with your vet, I think the negative behaviour is a product of seperation anxienty.
 


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