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Hi everyone!

After desperate searching on the Internet and calling anyone I know with a dog, I found this site and joined today as I've run out of ideas and am hoping someone here will know what to do..

I have an old (13yr old) rescue dog that I've had since a pup and he sleeps in the room with me and my wife. We rescued a 2yr old dog in November 2014 and she also sleeps in the room with us. In March of 2015, we rescued our 3rd dog ("Nacho" - also 2 years old). He was a wild one when we got him, so he was in a crate in our room with the other dogs at night for a couple months until he calmed down and then eventually was allowed to sleep outside the crate. He sleeps in the room with us as well.

My 9 year old son desperately wants the 3rd dog ("Nacho") to sleep with him as it is technically his dog. For the past 6 weeks he has spent an hour or two during the day every day with Nacho in his room and that goes fine. At bedtime, Nacho is fine going into his room, but only for about 10 minutes. After that he scratches at the door incessantly and whines if left in there until we let him out (after about 30 minutes). We have tried putting a board in front of the door, but he just scratches that. We have tried using the crate in there but he just scratches at the floor of the crate and pants a lot until we let him out of the room after 30 minutes of this. The only time he will stay in my son's room at night and not scratch is if I sleep in there with them.

We don't want to cause Nacho undue stress and/or make him turn mean and dislike my son (he's a wonderful, loving dog), but we can't seem to change his sleeping habit. Should we just let him scratch through the night every night (instead of letting him out after 30 minutes) until he finally gives up? Should we instead use the crate and do the same thing? Are there any other ideas? Is this a lost cause? I am very concerned that I made a grave mistake by initially having him in my room at night and really want to help my son with this.

I would be very grateful for any ideas/thoughts any members might have - I'm willing to try anything.

Thanks very much!
Jeff
 

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It makes sense that Nacho has bonded with the other dogs and first learned sleeping arrangements. Your son needs to learn that force shouldn't be used on the animals. My sister learned the hard way. She wanted the cat in her room and in her bed and tried to make him stay in her bed, He eventually ate her from head to toe, "he didn't just jump off the bed getting away from her,( I am sure Peppy learned just leaving never worked) he kept attacking her and attacking her coming back to attack her some more.. There wasn't an inch on her that wasn't bitten and deeply scratched. My sisters behavior cost Peppy his life as my dad took the cat out and disposed of him as Peppy was wild and crazed because he had had enough of what my sister had been doing to him trying to force him to stay for (how long over time????) Kids need to learn force and force causing stress and panic in animals is never a good place to put the animals in, it causes unpredictable behaviors. And sleeping arrangements is not worth putting Nacho as you said a wonderful dog, through it.

You could try bringing the dogs in to your sons room, having them lay with your son while you read a book at bed time. And start creating new habits and at least giving your son some time with the dogs in a relaxed environment for the dogs. Great if your Son falls asleep before you leave with the dogs following you out.. IF not your son will just have to understand that the dogs sleep in your room with you and the all the dogs together. Sometimes it just works out that way. Some day he will be the adult and have his own dogs. And who knows maybe Nacho and your son will develop a stronger bond in time that Nacho will choose to want to stay.. Force is never a good motivator..
 

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Yeah, forcing Nacho to stay in your son's room is creating high levels of stress and panic. Your son needs to understand that the dog is scared when kept away from the other dogs at night. He thinks "the bogeyman is going to get him in his sleep" if he's not with other dogs.

I would try placing his favorite bed/crate in your son's room with doors open and having him settle down with a frozen Kong in his bed when you put your son to bed for the night. Those things take a long time to finish so Nacho can be with him for a good 30 minutes to an hour and he can choose to rejoin the other dogs if he feels uncomfortable when he finishes his treat.

Edit to add: the Kong is also good because it is building a positive association with his room instead of the current association with entrapment.
 

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We have three dogs here full-time. My son and daughter each have two and when any of them visit, all the dogs want to sleep in our room. It's a big canine slumber party. We've had six dogs in our room - two on the bed with us (and they don't much like each-other) and four more scattered around the room.

Any attempts to encourage them to do otherwise have not been well-received.
 

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Wow! Thank you - I am humbled by and very appreciative of the quick and thoughtful replies to my post! We have been basically flying blind and making guesses as to whether or not this was a reasonable thing to try. Neither of us want to do anything that would cause Nacho too much stress or long term emotional damage, and from your responses I now understand that we were already crossing that line. Thankfully, Nacho is still his happy self, so I think we've been lucky and haven't done anything harmful for the long term.

As per your suggestions, we will continue to have Nacho and my son in his room for periods of time during the day and will now also add a period of time before bed. Nacho seems to like those times, so I think continuing them will help him to associate good feelings with my son's room, as you said. We'll definitely discontinue the overnight attempts immediately, though! I am going to add a kong to his visits to help reinforce the positive experiences he has in there (great idea!) and will also include the other dogs when they're intersted as well (another great idea!). Perhaps over the next year Nacho will get to the point that he is actually okay with attempting an overnight again, but we won't force it and won't attempt it for a long time.

My son is very disappointed by the reality of the situation as we now understand it, but he's a very reasonable kid and is thankful his dog is amazing in every other way and loves him very much. That's really what matters - Nacho is happy and healthy and my son has an awesome furry buddy.

Again, thank you for your in-depth responses and suggestions - I do very much appreciate the help and am glad I got these answers before we went down this path too far and caused Nacho too much distress.

Jeff
 

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Honestly, I think this is a good lesson to your son about dogs. Dogs are not storybook creatures that do what we want simply because we want it, and teaching him that is a very good thing. We need to learn to accept our dogs' feelings and limitations just as we would want someone else to accept our own. So this is a good thing.
 

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food isn't necessary, Your son is the greatest reward , please insure that Nacho is not a resource guarder, concerning food, and that it wont cause a dog fight with the other dogs. It's about time spent interacting, dogs love to be engaged even if they just laying there while a child is playing. but yet being talked too.... I lived out of the city, not another kids for miles my collie did everything with me. Can't say he did any tricks, or anything special, we were just shadows most of the time he just be there with me,, me talking showing him things and him looking at them.. he loved the attention of being a part of it.. and I truly felt he understood every word I was saying lol lol lol ... No dogs allowed in the house but he did sleep outside my window where I would I could talk to him... Even as an adult I pulled out a book and read to my baby goats and my Baby Clydesdale siting on an ole washer outside.. Turning the book (it was a how to train your horse book lol ) turning it around for them to see the pictures lol lol and they would lean in to touch the page to examine what I offered to show them.. Even the Clydes was funny to lip the pages to turn them.. Kids are free that way and animals are curious to play right along when offered .. no doubt helping Nacho transition over to your son by you participating with your son doing kids stuff with him ...
 
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