Dog seems to be nervous

Posted by cacrawford
Apr 24, 2012
Our 20 month old GSD has developed a very strange unsettled nervous behavior when she is inside the house with us. She paces about grumbles and the barks at the slightest noise, movement or sometimes at nothing. This is happening in the middle of the night as well. She sleeps in our room and always has but has become so unsettled that we moved her cushion into the walk in robe. She seems a little happier in there. However she is barking at birds outside in the middle of the night or little noises. She seems to be frightened. We try to ignore her and not reward the behaviors but it is very difficult. She appears to settle when she goes to the shack where she sleeps in her "tent". This behavior just seemed to appear out of the blue about 6 weeks ago one night when we returned from the shack (she loves it there). She is a barker but this is very unusual nervous behaviour. We are getting desperate!!
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Apr 25, 2012
Hi cacrawford,

First of all, has she getting enough exercise during the day? Does she like fetch balls or go to dog parks? If she does, get her work out so that she is tired and gets a sound sleep

Have you considered crate-train her? She might feel more secured once she gets used to be in a crate. You want to get her in a crate without closing the door enough time before you use it to confine her with a door closed during the night. She will most likely whine the first few nights but just ignore her. She will get used to it within a week or so. You can put your old sweater or something in the crate too.

When you introduce a crate to her, make sure it is a good place for her by giving her treats in the crate, some people even feed the dog at the beginning. Choose a crate that is big enough for your shepherd.

I don't crate my own dogs but I found crates are very handy for my foster dogs, especially fearful and nervous dogs.

Also, remember dogs between ages of 1.5 to 2 yrs old are adolescent and they tend to start some weird behaviors. It is a transition period from a puppy to an adult dog and some dogs feel insecure, others can get aggressive all of sudden.

Good luck
Posted by KOPCaroline
May 1, 2012
Hi there,

Did anything like a thunderstorm or car crash or other loud, strange noise happen around the time she started acting this way? It could be she got a terrible startle from something in the night and is now a bit more nervous about things.

I would think she will settle down with quiet environments and as long as you aren't reinforcing her behaviour by following her around and telling her "its ok" when she grumbles, etc - this can just reinforce the behaviour by making her think its a good thing to make a fuss at night.

I do think crate-training can help in situations like this, you might consider it. Crates provide dogs with their own, safe, personal space, and it will confine her overnight from doing her wandering. You can even throw a blanket or something over the crate to block her sight of windows, etc where she might see something "interesting".
Posted by cacrawford
May 5, 2012
Thanks for the advice. She has settled down.
We have no idea what may have frightened her. She has been crate trained and loves her crate but it is at our holiday house.. She is now happily sleeping in the walk in robe - not unlike a very large crate
Thanks again