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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had my dog for about four years now, and this is new behavior.

She's a dachshund and was rescued from being a breeder at a puppy mill. She had lived with a foster family for a few weeks when she was first brought to me, and she's my first dog, so it was a challenge.

When I first got her she was all skin and bones, and had never seen a carpet or flight of stairs before, and she would go into frequent panic attacks where she'd shake for 20 minutes at a stretch.

But I'm a very low key person and work from home so I'm always with her, and over the years she has calmed down and put on weight, and overall she's become a very normal and happy dog. Until recently I hadn't seen her panic in a very long time.

But recently, she suddenly has decided that she can't stand it when I try to read a book or take a shower. I can do anything else and she'll do what she's always done, and just sit there beside me chewing on a toy or bone, or napping. Or if she's annoyed at me for being too fidgety she'll go into her kennel for a while, because I've made that a safe zone for her where she knows I'll never bother her.

But if I pick up a book and start to read, or go into the bathroom for more than a couple of minutes, she immediately needs attention. If I give it to her for a while she'll settle down, but as soon as I pick the book up again she starts climbing all over me. And if I ignore her, she escalates the attention seeking until she's in a full blown panic, with red eyes and a fixed stare, panting hard.

So eventually I'll succomb and put the book down, and she'll settle, and everything will seem to be normal. But as soon as I pick up a book, the whole thing starts over again. If I put her in her kennel, she's fine and will take a nap, which is something I do from time to time if I feel like eating a meal with being stared at (or to take a shower more recently). But I don't like to have her in there for too long, and when I get into a book I can read for four hours at a stretch.

I don't know what suddenly triggered this in her, I've always been a voracious reader, and I don't know what to do about it. No matter how calm she seems, or how much attention I give her, as soon as I pick up a book, she immediately starts freaking out again.

Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I adopted a near feral dog, and she too had panic attacks...she would bolt, almost falling over sometimes in trying to get turned around then would try to run through the house in search of a place to hide.

I figured in a few months she would get use to the house and me, and settle down...but the behavior, even after 6 months was still really bad. So I talked to some folks here and did some research and then went to my vet and explained the situation to her...and it was decided to put her on a 3 month course of Prozac.

Prozac takes a little time to kick in, and with Jaya it worked wonders. It 'calmed' her brain down enough that she didn't react to stuff so fast or with so much intensity. She still had reactions...but the bolting almost stopped completely and sometimes when she did kind of run to go hide, it was like she would think better of it and just stop and turn and study the situation that had her scared...then she would relax again.

It's hard to say why your dog started reacting to somethings...but if she were my dog, I wouldn't give her Any attention when she's in that state...just ignore and let her figure it out...calm herself down.

Some here might disagree with me on this...but my thinking is, that when a dog is upset...and you talk to it and give it attention, then the dog, who doesn't understand all your words, just the tone in your voice - is in this state of panic, hearing an 'it's ok' tone in your voice -- and in their minds, they connect the two as "It's Ok to be in a state of fear or panic". It's like giving a 'Good Boy' pat to a dog that's not doing what you want them to do. I think it's best just to ignore the dog while it's like that...don't offer words of comfort or give it attention until it's in a calmer state of mind.

When a dog is like that, too, most can't even be distracted by food and toys. So, I even gave up on trying to do that... I just let them work it out as best as they can, and I've found most of the time (Jaya being the exception) dogs learn to deal with stressful situations and find ways to calm down themselves.

I've had dogs that became less reactive to thunderstorms and such in doing that...instead of offering comfort I just try to be there...when they think it might be a nice to be next to me. I had one dog that would just go plant herself in my shower....lol...and not come out...and another that would go through the house then eventually come sit by my feet. Still it was better behavior than what they had...with the whining and running through the house. (these were all older dogs I adopted and I could see their reactions change as time went by).

Anyway, going back to the Prozac. Once her Prozac program was done, Jaya remained in a good state of mind. Some people though, from what I've read, keep their dogs on it all the time.

I am worried that if your dog has started to do this with 2 things, then she might find more things to get panicked about. What started it all might be a mystery...maybe while you were in the shower she knocked a book down and it startled her... ??? Hard to say what the connection is...but given she was a mill puppy...it could be something mental finally coming to the surface.

Definitely have her check out by your vet though to make sure she doesn't have some kind of medical issue. And talk to your vet about Prozac. It did wonders for my dog Jaya and her mega panic attacks.

Stormy
 

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If she is happy and feels safe in the kennel I would use it. Don't feel guilty about putting her some place she feels safe. Its probably good for the two of you to have some alone time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks very much for the replies. I'm putting both suggestions into practice by trying to be more comfortable putting her in her kennel, since she really does completely relax when she's in there, and also being more willing to ignore her frantic pushiness and let her resolve it on her own.

That suggestion reminded me that this was basically how I got her to calm down in the first place. She gets her cues from me on how to react to things, so by keeping my own responses low key and relatively muted, I was able to give her the message that nothing all-that-consequential is going to happen. And it worked, over the years she's become much calmer and less hyper-reactive.

So last night when she started trying to climb all over me in a panic as soon as I picked up my book, I just kind of firmly turned her around so she was sitting beside me in her usual spot, and kept reading. She tried a few more times to climb onto me, but I just distractedly put her back without really reacting, and after a couple of tries she gave me a dirty look and curled up for a nap.
 
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