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Why is my dog so nervous?

(16 Posts)
Iusedtobecarmen Thu 21-Sep-17 14:04:09

Had our dog from a puppy. Cross breed-unsure what. Had her from an abandoned litter at the local dogs home.
We are a family of 5. 18 yr old ds and two younger but not little dc
All used to dogs. My dc love animals are kind and adore our dog.
She has been socialised from the start
Is good with other dogs off the lead.
Shes generally a quiet,well behaved pet

Our house is noisy but she should be used to it?
She has very odd behaviour. Frightened of the least thing. Terrified of the vacuum,broom mop Etc. Cowers in another room

She also.acts odd if the dc are even remotely noisy,just.playing or talking
Goes and lies by the door. I know dogs like their own space but its just everyday noise.

She has started doing a strange thing at night also. I let her out for a wee last thing, bbut it she just hides under the outside table till I call her back in. Its like she thinks she's in trouble!she's never 'in trouble' as she's so good!
She does a similar thing with her food,occasionally acts odd when I put her food down and goes and hides!!
Today was the last straw. She picked up a toy out of a carrier bag on the floor. It was another pet toy that if just bought. She dropped it and it cracked. I was a bit surprised and said (not loudly)Oh what's that u silly dog. That's naughty or something silly.
She went and cowered in the porch!
About 5 min later I got her lead to take her for a walk and she cowered right down like she was going to be hit and wet herself.
I could understand if she was from an abusive home previousmy, but she hasn't

We are her only owners

We would never hurt an animal

Any thoughts?


Winteriscomingneedmorewood Thu 21-Sep-17 14:09:03

Have your dc had anyone new around lately?
Maybe non dog lovers, stood on a paw or shouted? Window cleaner spooked her through the window?
My exes awful mate punched my dog in the face once and it transformed her personality - nearly 8 years ago and she hates men still.

Iusedtobecarmen Thu 21-Sep-17 14:13:52

No,no one new. She is very wary of strangers a d is quite aloof with people out and about but loves a fuss when people come to ours.
She also acts really submissive around certain people she rolls on her back (in the park).
Oh I meant to say she's off in the house with dc and noise but outdoors is completely different.
Runs after them playing really happy and lively
And does not take her eye of those kids for a minute
It's like they are her puppies.
We have just been on holiday with the dog and she literally ran all day on the beach with them

CornflakeHomunculus Thu 21-Sep-17 14:56:37

Temperament and behaviour have a strong genetic component, whilst socialisation and training are obviously extremely important neither can change what a dog is born with. This blog post on the subject (written by a veterinary behaviourist) is well worth a read.

If she's naturally rather anxious then she could also have been affected by the her very early care. The fact her litter was abandoned suggests they may not have received the appropriate care beforehand.

She sounds similar to our DDog2. She's naturally very sensitive and prone to anxiety, added to this she was taken away from her mum and litter mates far too young. She was our first puppy and we made mistakes with her which other dogs may have bounced right back from but had a very lasting effect on her. It took her a very long time to learn bite inhibition and also to grasp house training. She's got a tendency towards developing obsessive behaviours and has attachment issues, mostly surrounding DH. She is so ridiculously desperate to please that she's actually really hard to train because not being rewarded is like a terrible punishment for her.

She's extremely sensitive to our emotions and if either of us are in a bad mood she'll creep around as if she's expecting to be hit, despite the fact that in her nine years we've almost never so much as raised our voices at her. She's never been hit or physically reprimanded in any way at all but still sometimes acts like we're randomly going to beat her sad

She does the food thing as well. I get up before DH so I feed all the dogs every morning. Her routine is that she'll stay upstairs with him until she hears me putting the bowls down. Most days she'll come belting down the stairs and burst into the kitchen all excited to have her breakfast and then randomly she'll come creeping down as if she's expecting disaster, poke her head in and retreat back upstairs without eating. Sometimes (like this morning) she'll come in, eat half and then suddenly slink off, though usually she will come back and finish with some gentle, happy encouragement.

She's got the added complication that her sight is pretty poor. She developed hereditary cataracts quite young and although she had surgery for them her sight is a long way from perfect. This means that if we catch her unawares sometimes she'll jump and cower.

Like yours, she's a completely different dog outside. She's supremely confident, great with people, dogs, other animals. She really is an absolutely rock solid, take anywhere dog outside.

She's so lovely but also very hard work sometimes. We love her to bits and whilst we don't regret getting her I'm not convinced it's been an experience we'd necessarily like to repeat!

I'd suggest nipping your girl to the vet just to check for anything physical which may be causing any problems, especially her sight and hearing. Then maybe look at getting a behaviourist in to help you support her as much as you can. If you go through one of these organisations you can be confident you're getting someone reputable.

It's also worth looking into calming products like Zylkene and Adaptil. There are also various supplements available which might be worth a try.

Does she have anywhere she go to which is completely away from everyone in the house? DDog2 really thrives when she's got the opportunity for plenty of alone time if she wants it.

Veterinari Thu 21-Sep-17 14:59:38

What Cornflake said. Though could you tell us how she was socialised and to what?
It doesn't seem as if socialisation to household noise/equipment has been very effective for example - how did you do this?

Greyhorses Thu 21-Sep-17 15:41:35

Third cornflakes post. I also had a genetically nervous dog that I had from a puppy. Sadly this is why rescue puppies are a huge gamble.

Iusedtobecarmen Thu 21-Sep-17 16:10:28

cornflakethat's exactly our dog. Especially with the food thing!normally super excited for her dinner but sometimes creeps to the bowl and past it again like it's poison

When I mean socialising I mean outdoors with other dogs and situations. Home wise we just exposed her to normal noises and thought she be ok. The way a baby sleeps through the vacuum for instance.
I thought having her from a puppy was like having a blank canvas

I guess it's worse as our old dog though difficult in some ways compared to this one wasn't bothered by anything.

Veterinari Thu 21-Sep-17 19:36:22

Unfortunately socialisation doesn't work like that - it's a commonly misunderstood concept.
The two resources below explain a comprehensive approach to socialisation.

How old is she now? Most dogs experience a secondary socialisation phase around puberty (if not neutered) so you could try a more comprehensive approach now if she's not too old

Iusedtobecarmen Thu 21-Sep-17 20:27:16

She is 2 and neutered.
I will read those links later. Thanks.
Should I just ignore her when she acts like this?I tend to?so as not to reinforce it
Is that right?
Dc feel sorry for her and call and fuss her.

LucieLucie Thu 21-Sep-17 21:04:16

When did her behaviour change?

Does teenage kids friends have access to her unsupervised?

Something has happened. Can you set up a doggy cam to monitor her while you're not there?

Veterinari Thu 21-Sep-17 21:04:30

You can't reinforce an emotion. If she's scared then she needs comfort to change her emotional state. Doing lots of training and game-playing to build social bonds can also help with attachment and confidence

Iusedtobecarmen Thu 21-Sep-17 21:36:51

So i should fuss her then if she's anxious?I'm not reinforcing there's an issue?
No way does teenage ds have mates round. He's not like that. Plus he loves that dog to death. He wouldn't allow it.
Her behaviour hadn't changed. Its always been like this. Just always something new she's upset about.

Iusedtobecarmen Thu 21-Sep-17 22:33:51

I could set up doggy can I guess

She also does have separation anxiety

She is hardly left but any length of time but now and then she will jump up to the side and chew washing up sponge or chew up letters
Mostly she doesn't.
I hate to think she's an anxious or unhappy

Dh thinks I'm mad. Says she's happy has a good life,shes sensitive thats all.

Iusedtobecarmen Thu 21-Sep-17 22:34:58

she's hardly left for any length

CornflakeHomunculus Fri 22-Sep-17 00:57:03

There's absolutely nothing wrong with comforting her if it helps her. As Veterinari says, you can't reinforce fear. There's a couple of good videos on the subject here and here.

One thing that might be worth looking into for her is body wraps, they can be really helpful for some anxious dogs. Thundershirts work on the same principle, you can buy ready made wraps (like the Mekuti ones) or just buy some elasticated bandages and do it yourself.

I'd also highly recommend the Denise Fenzi book Train the Dog in Front of You. Although it's aimed more at people wanting to compete in various dog sports I found it really helped me gain a lot of insight into how DDog2's mind works.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Fri 22-Sep-17 16:23:50

Sounds like something has happened to reinforce fear. Someone I know left her little dog at home while she went shopping and came home to find an air ambulance had landed right outside her home. Found the dog cowering in its own wee under a bed. Never been the same since. Rather extreme example, I know, but it's surprising what they feel.

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