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Ernie is nervous in his new home

Rebecca's family used to have two dogs, but they both died of old age in 2013. Ever since then, she's been keen to have another pet, and she was delighted when her family finally agreed last week to take on a new rescue dog.

They spent some time checking out the wide range of dogs at the Dogs Trust centre in north Dublin before finding Ernie at the DSPCA on Mount Venus Road in Rathfarnham.

Ernie is a one-year-old terrier, rescued by the DSPCA after he had been found wandering. He was neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and treated for parasites. He's a gentle, good-natured dog, and the Dorothys were delighted to bring him home.

Ernie is a great example of a rescue dog: why would anyone want to spend hundreds of euro on a pedigree when a dog's life can be saved by taking one from a rescue group? As well as saving a life, you save money, because there's usually no need to go to a vet for spays, neuters, vaccines or microchips: it's all done for you.

Ernie settled in to Rebecca's household immediately, but it was obvious from the start that he was clingy.

Understandably after the neglect that he has suffered earlier in his life, he doesn't want to be left on his own.

There isn't a problem with this during the daytime, as one of Rebecca's family members is always at home, but it's been causing problems at night when everyone is in bed.

He has a new, big, soft bed, in the kitchen beside the cosiness of the Aga cooker. Rebecca makes sure that he has a regular evening routine, being taken for a walk last thing, then given a tasty treat before being told that it's bedtime.

She has set up a ticking clock and a radio playing music beside his bed, in the hope that these will reassure him. At first, Ernie settles down OK, but within 15 minutes, he starts to whimper and bark looking for attention.

So far, they have all managed to ignore him, knowing that if they give in and go down to him, he will keep on doing it indefinitely. But nobody's been having a good night's sleep.

When Rebecca mentioned this to me, I came up with a few extra tips.

First, I've fitted Ernie with an Adaptil collar: this contains a slow-release formulation of calming pheromones which will make him feel relaxed and less anxious.

Second, Rebecca has installed a Pet Remedy room diffuser, which releases a combination of botanical aromas, including Valerian, into the atmosphere around Ernie's bed. This will make him feel calmer and sleepier.


Finally, Rebecca has bought a red rubber Kong toy which she's going to stuff with tasty food, then put into the deep freeze. She'll give this to Ernie at bed time, and it will take him at least an hour to get all the food from the toy by chewing it.

By this time, hopefully he'll be tired enough to drift into a snooze. It will take a few days for Ernie's new regime to take full effect, and Rebecca's family are hoping that by the time Christmas comes round, Ernie will sleeping peacefully - and they will be too.

And remember everyone, never give a pet as a Christmas present.

Owner: Rebecca Dorothy from Kilcroney, Co Wicklow

Animal: Ernie, rescued terrier

Problem: Ernie is restless at night