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Archer unraveling...need help, please!! - Update
  • Post edited by sunyata at 2013-06-06 14:23:03
  • Thanks, yeah, we thought fear stage too, but this just seems so extreme to us too. Simply walking across the room will cause him to scream like he is in pain. But yet the next second you can throw a ball and he'll go chase it and act like a puppy again. We love the little guy to death, and are hoping this is nothing major!!
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • Yeah, we are going to use the trainer we have been using for the past few months (positive reinforcement only, on the list of approved positive trainers that has been posted on this forum before). Talked to her today, and she's coming Wednesday to assess what is going on. Although he warned us not to comfort him while he is screaming, as to avoid an inadvertent reinforcement of the behavior. Instead what we'll do is avoid places/instances he is displaying the behavior. And if some of it is unavoidable, hold him/comfort him before he goes through it. We go to the vet tonight, so hopefully we'll know more tonight! Thanks for the help
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • Here is an update on Archer:

    Vet visit: Healthwise he looks fine. Only thing was a slightly elevated temperature, which the vet thought could be due to anxiety at the vet office. Blood work/urine analysis look fine. No apparent health problem. He is going to have his blood check for any tick related illness, but at this point the vet is as puzzled as we are.

    Behavior: Now that we have seen the behavior for a few extra days, I think we can sum is up in a few parts:

    (1) Lethargy. Archer is sleeping a lot. We noticed a week ago that he wasn't as energetic, but starting saturday night it's like his energy level tanked. He'll play and interact with us in the apt, but even there he'll lay down a lot and want to sleep. Outside he simply refuses to walk or do anything. He'll go potty outside, but immediately afterwards he'll curl up in a ball at our feet and try to sleep. He also looks scared/anxious during this. Sunday he would cry/scream in the apt/elevator/street, but that seems to have gone down, but we have to carry him outside/inside for him to remain calm.

    (2) Hypersensitivity/fear of sounds. Anything from a truck driving by to a plastic bag ruffling with freak him out. The hypersensitivity even extends to touch. He'll come up to us for affection, we'll start to pet him, then all of a sudden (after a minute) he'll freak out and to attack out hand and run off.

    We are very confused and worried for our little guy. Has anyone heard of a Fear Stage like this? Also, how long does the fear stage last?

    The trainer comes tomorrow afternoon to look at his behavior, but after I talked to her over the phone, he sounded just as confused as we did. Everything appears that he is really sick, but yet he has a clean bill of health from the vet. This might seem silly, but can puppies get depressed? If so, what causes it and what helps it?

    Thanks again for your inputs, any suggestions are great!
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • Archer just turned 5 months old a week ago. As far as changes in the apt, there hasn't been really anything. No new furniture or construction. Routine has been consistent as well. Only weird behavior we have noticed is he's licking his chops & doing weird things with his tongue. He'll also lick/bite the floor and we noticed him licking the air the other day. He'll stare at us from across the room, but it seems like he is just watching us to see what we are doing. No circling, staring at wall, fly biting.

    During the day he is crated. He has had a dog walker coming at lunch, but we let her go last Tuesday. There was something about her Archer started to dislike, and he would fight her/try to bite her during the walk. But since last Tuesday, we have been going home to walk him. We've considered something like doggie daycare or group walks for more stimulation for him during the day...but we are holding back from doing anything right now until we get this new behavior under control.

    We have started going to dog parks 3 weeks ago. Last week we went a 2x, and 2x the week before that. We have thought that something could have happened at the dog park. This behavior happened/started saturday,and the only things to happen that day were: a couple dog walkers came over to meet Archer (we were interviewing people to see if any of them would be good for him). We then went to a dog park for an hour, there was a dog that got in Archer's face and scared him initially, but after that he was running around and having a fun time when we left. Although when we do go, he loves to play in the water (again why we thought it could be a bug he picked up). We also thought there could be something with his interactions with the dogs there, but all the dogs he sees on the street now he wants to play with (one of the few instances he perks up right now on the street).
  • Stef777Stef777
    Posts: 246
    Maybe it has something to do with the dog walker you let go? I I know you said Sunday that he started to unravel and you let the dog walker go a few days before that but maybe she did something he didn't like and something reminded him of this? Are you able to call any of her current/past clients and see what they say about her?
  • I talked to our doorman yesterday to see if he noticed anything 'off' about their walks, and he said he didn't noticed any unusual behavior from Archer or her. I've talked to some other people, and it sounds like he started to dislike their walks because she would force him down the street (pulling the leash for force him along), which turned into him associating bad things with her and ultimately him acting out at her ~ as soon as I heard that I immediately let her go. I've talked to some people who use her, and didn't hear any complaints. Again when you ask someone for references, they'll tend to only give you those which will give them high remarks.

    We thought at first this could play a component into his behavior, but we keeping also thinking that it was a solid 5-6 days later that he really started to freak out. I've also thought that maybe she caused him to tweak a muscle/joint. But when we play with him right now, he seems 100% fine (not limping, favoring a leg, etc). The vet tried to feel his back legs, but all the poking/prying freaked Archer out. It was really hard to tell if this was because he was tender/sore/hurt or because he was pissed off at the vet for handling him. Again he plays normal, but in my mind it might be a possibility still if there is no other explanation --> at which point maybe we talk to the vet about xrays or other tests to see if he's hurt on a deeper layer?
  • I know the vet did a urinalysis, a complete blood count, and two other blood tests. I'll ask him specifically tonight. I'm really wonder if he tweaked a muscle/joint with the dog walker. Although we don't see anything wrong with him when he runs, I wonder if he pushes himself to play/act normal because of his puppy instincts. And he finally regressed saturday night because he (and inadvertently us) were pushing him too hard.

    The only evidence I can find to support this are the fact that he freaked out with the vet was checking him out back there (although we couldn't tell if it was because he was tender or just hated that much manipulation) and the fact that the dogwalker was forcing him to walk down the street. This would also explain why he refuses to walk on the street and if he's not feeling well, why he would be so sensitive to 'scary' sounds. But yet, in the apt/hall, he'll play and act 100% normal and not limp, favor a leg or anything.

    I'm not vet expert, but could an x-ray shed some light on the situation? Tonight we'll also try to massage/feel his back legs for anything abnormal.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • I picked up a DAP diffuser & collar on Sunday. The Thundershirt looks interesting and definitely worth a try. I'll ask the vet about seizures & the possibility a muscle/joint injury tonight.

    Such a puzzle, again, we keep thinking injury just because he keeps collapsing when we leave the apt. Even in the apt he'll lay around alot, and sometimes after we wake up and take him out of the kennel, he'll say hi and get some water, but will jump back into the kennel and not want to come out.
  • MayamaMayama
    Posts: 270
  • We thought the same thing last week. He lost 3 of his baby canines the weekend before this all happened, he lost his last one this past Saturday. Originally we figured him sleeping alot was connected to that, but then when he started this weird behavior saturday night, we started to think differently.
  • AnnaAnna
    Posts: 621
    Maybe he swallowed a puppy tooth and it's upsetting his stomach?

    Does that happen? Do dogs suffer at all from swallowing their own teeth?
  • I thought the same thing and asked the vet, without hesitation she insisted that it is no problem and they pass the teeth fine. We found 2 of his canines, and are 99% sure he swallowed the other 2. But again, the vet said that swallowing the teeth is just fine & normal.
  • UPDATE: The vet checked Archer's blood work against everything he could think of, and found nothing. I asked about complex partial seizures, and he didn't think that was what was going on here.

    The trainer who has worked w/ Archer came last night to look at him, and think it's behavioral. Her guess that it probably is a combination of the dogwalker, teething, a light cold last weekend & some other minor events, which have all added up and stressed out the little guy to the point where he is now terrified to go outside. She's known Archer now (and see's him every week) for the past 2.5 months, so her guess is that Archer just an extra-sensitive boy in general, and with all these things happening with him, it just stressed him out.

    So she wants us to make outside 'fun' again for the little guy. This entails playing/feeding him in the hallway outside our apartment, in the elevator, in the lobby and ultimately outside. Also taking him (carrying if necessary) to places outside he loves (ie dogpark, puppy play group, etc) to remind him that there are fun things to do outside. Also she thought it wouldn't hurt to carry him around the block (or even get a dog stroller), that way he can hear the sounds of the street and get used to them again. She's afraid that if he wants to hide inside, it'll be hard for him to get desensitized to these things again. Basically everything involved is to readjust him to being outside. Also important is to end everything on a good note (however small it maybe), that way he leaves each place with a positive memory, rather than a negative one.

    She also thought the fear stage could play a role, but most likely it's the summation of everything that's been happening in the past week.

    Also about his weird mouth behavior (licking chops/licking air), we thought he was done teething. BUT this morning we woke up and he spit up a side molar. I was expecting him to just lose his front teeth...but apparently he's also going to lose some baby molars??? Anyway, this could also explain why he has been acting weird (this probably has been loose for a couple days).

    For the fear stage, how old was everyone's puppies when they went through it? And how long did it last?

    As of right now, he's slowly getting better. He's much more active inside, but sensitive to things that he was used to before (ie leash). Last night & today I played ball with him in the different areas of the building, and he perks up for a while, but he's still getting used to the noises. We are hoping that once he's done w/ this fear stage & done teething, that everything will 'click' and he'll bounce right now...fingers crossed at least.

    Thanks everyone for your help, and we'll keep you posted!
  • Wow, thanks @adonia1986. It's actually nice to hear someone else going through/having going through the same thing! Glad to hear it worked out for you!!
  • if the vet doesnt find anything wrong it might just be a fear stage. How old is he?


  • almost 5.5 months now
  • Yeah, that sounds like Archer right now. "rise in aggression/reactivity" is definitely him right now. Although he is a bit young for the 6-14 month window, this sounds so much like him right now.
  • i do not pay too much attention to the window thing, he might get in this "fear" again in coming years, nobody can tell really
  • yeah my 7yo Jack Russell started being afraid of toasters (yes the ones used for toasting bread)

    btw Sushi is afraid of halls, he doesnt like any type of halls, he will cry and make a scene trying to avoid them.
  • So just an update of how we are (or aren't doing). This past weekend Archer seemed to be getting better. We have isolated his fear to (1) the elevator and (2) any loud, sudden noise outside (ranging from trucks to people walking by).

    Currently we are forced to carry him outside to go potty, because as soon as we get in the hall and he sees the elevator, he freezes and absolutely refuses to go any further (same things when we are coming into the building). Outside he acts okay, but he doesn't act like a puppy. He just slowly walks around and sniffs the ground, will do his business and then just sit and not want to move. If any loud noise comes by, he'll get scared and curl up in a ball (and almost looks like he has given up on the whole situation). If we are lucky and there are no noises that scare him, he'll be willing to walk into the lobby to go home, but then sees the elevator and gets incredibly scared.

    I've talked to the vet, a trainer & 2 behaviorists about this. The vet says he's fine, and the trainer/behaviorists all seem to agree that he has somehow associated pain/fear with these elements. And we need to rebuild his confidence (which we have been doing for the past 10 days). Over the weekend he looked to be doing much better, but then suddenly we'll go out one day and he'll have totally regressed to where we were a week ago. Last night he was great, but then this morning he was terrified again, and curled up in a ball on the sidewalk and tried to go to sleep while shaking. The behaviorists also doubt a Fear Stage, because that should be a fear of new things, not situations he's already used to.

    In the apartment he's fine, but at night he is still doing this thing where he'll sit and bark from 3AM - 6AM. We tried more stimulation before bed/@ night to get him more tired (which didn't work). I also tried to take him out to pee in case it was a bathroom issue, but once we get back in and put him back in the kennel, he'll just go right back to barking. (I made sure not to go out there while he was barking to make sure I wasn't reinforcing it). We snuck a peek at him while he was doing this one time, and he looks like he's attacking his tail and barking at it the whole time.

    At this point we aren't sure what to do...The behaviorists said to wait til the end of the week to see if it gets better, and if it doesn't there might be something a lot deeper going on. I'm just starting to get scared that something has happened to him & he might not recover from it. Or he will, it'll just take a LONG time to get there.
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Be patient with him. He's going through his "teenage rebellious phase." Remember, dogs, like humans, take time to get over their fears & to build up confidence. He's still young, and how you get through this period will determine how he will react to things later.

    One of my dogs went through something similar as a pup, & it took 4 months to work through. But now you would never guess he had a problem!

    Hang in there! :)~
  • Koni B.Koni B.
    Posts: 172
    Like Sangmort said, be patient.

    Also, being afraid of sudden loud noises is TOTALLY understandable. a) They sound louder to him than they do to you, and b) he may be able to learn expect and dismiss some sounds, but he's never going to learn all of them. If a truck passes by outside, you know that it is just a truck and it is not going to come inside and eat you. Things are not the same for your shiba.

    Koni is a very UN-fearful dog and he still gets quite upset by the sounds of furniture moving, a box falling in the other room, etc. It's really hit or miss because he doesn't care at all about the sound of hammering, garbage trucks, etc, but he balks at walking over a sidewalk grate (makes a clanging noise).
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • Thanks for the advice...I wish stairs were an option, but we are at the 29th floor, so not an option.

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