Zeke is having major problems…

Oh boy…his skittish problems have really taken a turn for the worse since Thursday. Doug’s mom being in the hospital (he spent a few nights sleeping at his parents house), me working a few extra hours at work & my schedule changing a bit, & me running less with him due to the heat, has messed up his routine a bit and he is not reacting well.

One day when we were going to be unable to walk him in a 12 hour block, my mom was kind enough to take him out but it was at an unusual time and she reported him acting extremely scared. The next few night walks and even a run he was very skittish in the blocks surrounding our house. Yesterday and today he was completely unmanageable even going so far as to refuse his leash and run up the back stairs to get away from the front of the apartment; that is certainly a completely new reaction. I don’t know what to make of it.

Today I decided to regress with him and put on his leash and let him wear it around for about ten minutes. Then we practiced going out the propped open door where I would leave a hotdog piece for him if he decided to go out. Sometimes he ate it, sometimes he would bolt back inside which I allowed him to. Eventually we got to about a block away but he was still acting funny so we returned home. I will admit I had a breakdown then, crying and telling Doug maybe we should rehome him. But Doug pointed out that he used to be fine here and this developed (seemingly) out of nowhere so it could happen elsewhere too. It might even be the reason why his original family didn’t want to keep him, I have no way of knowing.

So, breakdown over, doug and I once again discussed what we could do. We decided for now to try to walk him in the exact same areas & times and not deviate from his schedule as much as possible to see if he gets better. I hope this works because if not I will really be out of ideas. It would almost be easier if he was scared to go outside all of the time rather than only sometimes. As it is, when we have a normal walk and he is enjoying himself I praise him constantly to reward that behavior. But it doesnt seem to work because the next walk might be a disaster.

He is pacing indoors now when we have the windows open. It has been hot the past few days so we have left the windows open when we are not home-that was obviously a bad idea. His fear seems to grow the longer the windows are open. Within ten minutes of closing them today (after his pacing and staring out the window sniffing for an hour) he laid down and fell asleep- threatening smell gone?

He is shedding heavily again and his appetite is a little down, I think this is only heat-related , but I have to consider it could be stress also. He is also hesitant about even going near the door now. I’ve tried to read through some books and look around online but can’t find a problem quite like Zeke’s. I wonder if he has some genetic predisposition to being fearful, was it his being unsocialized & locked in a room for the first 7 months of his life (most likely), is it something I did or didn’t do (less likely I hope), is it a previous life event that occurred before I got him that is only manifesting itself now. I could do this all day and I have  )=   When I told a dog trainer friend about his initial unsocialized upbringing, my friend said he was “extremely surprised that he is doing so well” (at the time he was 1 1/2y.o.) I was too….but is it possible that his problems could not show themselves until now? in his reaching adulthood? I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of that happening with dogs. 

I hope we can figure it out, or he grows out of it, or the wind changes direction or something because I am out of ideas. If anyone has experience with this or words of encouragement it would be greatly appreciated. At least he has his crate, that seems to be his last refuge where he is always relaxed enough to nap.

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~ by manicivy on June 2, 2013.

5 Responses to “Zeke is having major problems…”

  1. He just played ball with me a little bit and did some training exercises so I decided to do a treat scatter and left a lot by the door with the door open to reinforce the door is a happy place and it went well (=

  2. I know the strange behavior is hard. Sam has been troublesome the last few really hot days also. It has to just be the extreme temperature change.

    When we took Sam she had only known a crate, being kept in it for 20 hours a day. There would be walks that would send me into tears and I doubted we could keep her. I know it is hard, but just keep consistency and suddenly Zeke will turn a corner and then it will become consistent. There will still be bad days, even several in a row, but he will get it soon.

    • Thank you!! He pulled so much the first year we had him and it was frustrating but he was never skittish. I think thats why I’m upset, that he didnt used to be like this. How old is Sam? Did she have any problems that weren’t noticeable right away? Thats terrible about the crate, what are people thinking? I think the really special dogs often have the most problems, but its part of their charm (;

  3. Poor you! It can be heart breaking when you can’t figure out the reason for changes in behaviour. I think you are right that it probably stems from his early life experiences (or lack of) as they are crucial. Are you feeling more stressed/anxious/hurried when you walk him? He could be picking up on this. If he usually depends on you to be a calm, balanced and controlled leader, he might notice any change and then challenge you to determine what the change means. Are there any dogs that Zeke is happy to walk with? If so, you could try that for a bit to see if it helps? He might just be feeling under pressure because something has changed (no way of knowing what, could just be that a new dog has been in neighbourhood) but if he was walking with another more confident (pref alpha, not beta) dog, he might be reassured that all is ok. Good luck with what ver you try! X

    • Unfortunately he has no good dog walking buddies. Most of the dogs around here are house or yard only dogs. The ones that do go for walks are not socialized. His social friends at the dog park usually ONLY go to the dog park and don’t really walk or they live too far to meet up regularly-very frustrating these city dogs! But I will keep it in mind if the situation presents itself. Thank you!!

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