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Discussion Starter #1
Stella and I were just on our evening walk and the craziest thing happened and I'm really confused, and concerned.

We were only a block and a half from home, coming up to a corner. Stella was sniffing the grass at the corner, with me coming up behind her. Then all of a sudden she LEAPT back from the patch of grass and started one of the most intense displays of fear aggression I've ever seen. Her hackles were all up, she was barking wildly and doing that lunge/back up thing, and her tail was really tucked. I tried to distract her with cheese but she was still crazy scared and then bolted, dragging me all the way home.

All of this aimed at...nothing. There's nothing different about that corner or part of the neighborhood that was different. Her reaction was so bad I almost expected a bear to be behind the neighbor's house. Someone suggested to me that maybe she did smell a predator animal and that's why she freaked out. But...wow this was kind of scary.

Has anyone else had something like that happen? It really upset me and now Stella's finally just calm again.
 

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Echo did this on a hike, we figured a venomous snake triggered it. She chases other snakes but this spot was perfect for a copperhead.
 

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Could be an underground cable, an insect, or some type of smell that she didn't like. No telling really.

Zody will every now and then act startled while sniffing, but he's not acted fearful like you describe Stella doing
 

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My Maltese did that... in my front yard, with a cricket. It was honestly hilarious!
 

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My old dog did this with a leaf that was blowing around. xD Well....He was almost blind, so I don't blame him for thinking it was something "bad."
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The only story that sounds like it could be similar is the venomous snake, but even that's a stretch. Stella thoroughly enjoys hunting and eating bugs of all sorts, and she also likes hunting and killing snakes. She's also rarely scared of anything at all. That's why it was so shocking
 

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I bet she poked herself or got stung by something. Maybe even a snake!!

One time, I was making some stir fry and I dropped some pieces of veggies and chicken in my dogs bowl for him. They were still really hot but I didn't think he would try and eat them until they cooled down because he was asleep. I guess he smelled the chicken because jumped right up and came to eat and I couldn't get it away fast enough so he burned his tongue I think. He did the exact same thing. I had to move him into a different room until he calmed down.

Dogs are weird! Sometimes they do these things for no discernible reason, but I would be super surprised if it happened again.
 

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I was thinking maybe she got stung or bit by something too.
The closest thing I can think of in my case is when I took Sawyer to get the mail, on the way back up the driveway apparently I stepped funny and my the front end of my flip flop bent (basically how flip flops fold when you trip but without the tripping part (as you can see I'm gracefull :p) and scrapped and kicked up dirt. Sawyer freaked out, with hackles raised, barked a bit, bolted a bit and it even startled him enough to express his glands, which was not a fun smell. I still find it weird to this day to have such a visceral reaction to a soft flip flop dragging on the ground.
But I guess when dog are not paying attention or really engrossed in something and something startles them or possibly causes them pain (like a sting) it can make them a little more jumpy then normal. Maybe she encountered a ornery ant or bee/hornet/wasp or some kind of bug. Or she stepped or poked her nose on something sharp. Other then that I have no idea, other then dogs do have better hearing then us, maybe she heard something that really freaked her out that you didn't hear.
 

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That's what I'd bet.. she either stepped on something, got bit, or maybe she just saw a weird shadow! Who knows. As long as she went back to normal and seems okay now, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
We don't get fire ants around here. And this fear has become more widespread throughout the neighborhood but worse at this one corner. She was more fearful in general and sort of...alert/nervously sniffing with a low tail tonight.

Stella is 20 months right now and she's never been afraid of much for most of her life. She was once afraid of the car but is now fine with it and is just scared of motorcycle engines or cars without mufflers. She's been pretty rock solid and usually goes in investigate things that first startle her most of her life. That's why this is so surprising.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
This is now the third day and Stella is still scared. I didn't even attempt to bring her to the actual corner because the reaction is so bad but now she won't even go halfway down the street and shows signs of fear and stress in other parts of our neighborhood. I don't know what to do. Later I after dinner I might try to drive to the park and see how she is but I need to figure out how to get over this because she's not getting as much exercise due to her reluctance to go past these parts of the neighborhood.
 

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It might end up being one of those things that you may never know what happened. Weather she got bit by something, heard something, or it was something else completely.
Since she's still scared I guess your best bet at the moment is to make the corner enjoyable again and hope that what scared her that day was a one off thing and is no longer there.
Also just a point on the ants, it doesn't have to be fire ants for them to bite, especially if she ran into one of the bigger ones that protect the nest. Wasps and hornets are also a option since you might not see one and since they don't leave a stinger behind, unless there's swelling you might not know if she got stung.
 

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If this is becoming a more widespread problem, you might want to take steps to counteract now before it is too late.

There is some conversation about a third fear period occurring in early adulthood (18-32 months). She could be experiencing this- research about getting your puppy through these times may help!

I think giving her a break from your normal walking route might be ok. I know there was one time when we were walking and this group of 10ish young boys, yelling and on bicycles came around the corner and straight towards me and my dogs. It freaked Loki out so much that he would walk down that portion of the street with a drooped tail and wouldn't sniff anything. I stopped walking in that area for about 5 days and he was fine after that.

Or, start bringing treats with you and give them to her intermittently. It sounds like she needs to be reminded that walks are a fun thing!
 

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My dog has done this with stray electrical currents. If he won't go there, I know he has a good reason. Once he stepped on some very sharp burrs in the grass and wouldn't go on grass for a few days, but he got over it once he knew it was safe.

I would make sure first that the area is safe. Go without your dog and investigate for electrical activity, insects, spiky thing and stuff, and then start a counter conditioning protocol starting BEFORE she shows signs of stress. Slowly move closer as she starts to be more relaxed in proximity to the place.
 
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