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Weird behaviour, ideas?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Buzby, Jul 17, 2009.


  1. Buzby

    Buzby PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone. Sorry this is so long, but I hope some of you will take the time to read it and give me your thoughts because my 12 year old border collie x briard has begun acting a little odd. :eek:ut:

    A few weeks ago I got up in the morning to find her gone. She had jumped out of the living room window. To say that this is out of character for her redefines the word 'understatement'!
    Thankfully after a terrifying hour she was recovered safe and sound. Everyone has theories as to why she jumped out, the most popular one being because there was a storm, but Widget has never shown any fear or apprehension to storms in the past other than occassionally growling at very loud thunder.
    She also pays no attention to passers by, other dogs, cats, foxes etc so it's unlikely something like this drew her out.
    We put it down to a one off weird thing and resolved never to leave her unattended with the window open again!

    Last week I got up to find that she had clearly been on the window sill in the night, ornaments, the phone, and a vase had all been knocked over, which is odd behaviour in itself, Widget is not a clumsy dog and hates knocking things, she's almost cat like in the way she moves around things in the house, (as opposed to my other dog who tends to just crash her way through things oblivious to the destruction in her wake!!)

    At this point I started to worry that maybe she has some neurological problem, maybe even a brain tumour. We decided that we would set up a video camera to record the window at night, try to 'catch her at it', but we haven't yet had a chance to set this up.

    Last night, there was another storm. Lightning and thunder were flashing and rumbling all evening, all of which she paid NO attention to at all.
    We went to bed and after about 10 minutes heard a noise from downstairs. My other half got up to investigate and said she was laying in front of the sofa panting heavily, but that when he went in, she seemed to settle, stopped panting and went back into her bed.
    About 5 minutes after he came back to bed there was a crash. We both went down to find she had tucked herself into a miniscule gap between the sofa and the coffee table. She scrambled out and once again seemed to settle.

    Concluding that this newly acquired storm fear only seemed to affect her when we weren't there, we decided she could come sleep in our room. She trotted happily upstairs and tucked herself away under our bed. She seemed fine until I finished reading my book & turned out the light, then she began pacing and panting and pacing and panting.
    This went on and on and on. Eventually I got up to get her a bowl of water, and it was only when I went to switch off the landing light, that i realised this was the other thing that changed when we went to bed, the room going dark.

    Bizarre as it sounded I decided to test the theory, I switched my bedside light on, she stopped panting and pacing, went under the bed and fell asleep, remaining there all night!

    So, what do you all think? Can she have suddenly developed a fear of both storms & the dark? Or does this sound more like a neurological problem?

    Any thoughts appreciated!
     
  2. scottishbelle

    scottishbelle PetForums Newbie

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    Could be something you need to speak to the vet about. But I noticed a few things that might point to failing eyesight. Being clumsy; wedging between furniture; settling when the light is on. The panting may only be because panic settled in when things seemed strange.

    If you can rule out eyesight problems, then you can then start to think about new phobias. And the vet might be able to advise there as well.
     
  3. hazel pritchard

    hazel pritchard PetForums VIP

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    You could also give the rescue a call and see if they have anymore info about your dog,
    Good luck
     
  4. Buzby

    Buzby PetForums Newbie

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    Hi, many thanks for the reply.
    I've been wondering about eyesight too, what with the light seeming to calm her, although it still doesn't explain the sudden fear of storms and only in the dark! Unless its to do with the lightning rather than the thunder perhaps.

    The panting is definitely a panic thing, and the wedging in between furniture was definitely a fear reaction too. She hasn't actually been clumsy, it's just impossible for her to go on the windowsill without knocking things over - that's what is so bizarre, the fact that she would suddenly go on the windowsill in the first place!
     
  5. Buzby

    Buzby PetForums Newbie

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    Hazel, Widget's not from a rescue centre. I bred her myself, I had her mum and my old boss had her dad. So I can definitely say that in 12 and half years she's never shown ANY fear of storms before now.
     
  6. hazel pritchard

    hazel pritchard PetForums VIP

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    Opps sorry about my post i put it on wrong thread,(dont know how it happened )
     
  7. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    It could be that something frightened her when she was alone in the dark, and she has transferred all the fear onto the 'dark' part of it rather than what triggered the fear in the first place. Also her eyesight or hearing might be failing at her age, and while before she would have been able to hear you from where she sleeps, she can no longer do so and needs the security of having you close by. A bed or crate in your room or just outside, with one of those plug nightlights may help. Or try leaving a light on downstairs, see how that works.
     
  8. r_neupert

    r_neupert PetForums Senior

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    Our family Border Collie wedges herself behind the sofa when she gets scared....
     
  9. Buzby

    Buzby PetForums Newbie

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    Burrowzig, thanks for the suggestions. I agree something has certainly scared her, but for the life of me I can't think what or why! It's not just the dark tho, it's storm in the dark!
    The dark on its own is fine, storms in the light are fine! Weird I know. :confused:

    I have considered eyesight problems, and am going to get them checked, but again, I don't see why this would only happen in a storm? She has no problems in the garden at night, and paced around the dark bedroom last night with no problems at all.

    If she's having hearing problems then they're not noticeable, she does sometimes get a wax build up which causes problems with her hearing, I always know because she doesn't hear me call or whistle on walks, she's fine with that at the moment.

    We went and bought some night lights this morning to see if that helps, tho I guess we won't know until the next storm!

    r_neupert, having had other dogs who are scared of storms/fireworks etc, that's always been my experience too, they want to tuck away behind or under something where they feel safe. That's what makes it even more bizarre for her to have jumped out the window the first time this (whatever it is) happened!!
     
  10. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    Have you taken her to the vet?
     
  11. Buzby

    Buzby PetForums Newbie

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    My vet is away this week, I want to see her since she knows Widget. We will be going to see her next week, but wanted to see if anyone would come up with anything I haven't considered yet - sometimes easier to do if you're not directly involved.
     
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