Weird behaviour, glueing herself to walls and stressed about windows at night

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whiskeygirl's picture
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Hi all,

So Whiskey is 9 months old now and we've had her for almost seven weeks.  She's a gem, super smart, SO stubborn, quite the character.  When we first got her she was very, very timid and nervous about people and animals.  Since then she's gotten SO much better, she now barks at people that come in our home but stops after a bit and also now elts other dogs approach her somewhat instead of always approaching them and running away when they try to reciprocate.  

 

Anyways, since we've gotten her she does this weird thing where she looks at us and whines (usually when we're not paying attention to her while eating, watching tv etc) but while she whines she'll side walk to the nearest wall/vertical surface (side of couch, fridge etc) and abruptly glue her body from shoulders back to it (That's the best way I can describe it she doesnt slam or throw herself into the surface just brikly plants herself on it).  We figured it would go away, but it isn't just wanted to see if anyone has ever seen this behaviour and/or have any suggestions on correcting it.  She's not really doing anything wrong so I don't want to chastise her for it, but she just looks like she's not in a good head space when it's happening and I want her to be happy and comfortable dog.

 

Second, She whines lot, she's a dobie we get that's normal, and she is quite into the big living room window during the day but only when people and/or animals are outside. At night though, she's SO preoccupied by the window!  she just watches it almost constantly, whines at it, walks up to it and growls at nothing and sometimes even goes so far as to start barking (excitedly / stressed out) but there's almost never anything there!

We're doing obedience training soon so we'll soon have a firmer grip on commands, but any suggestions on what to do when she does this?  We've tried distracting her (lasts seconds), calling her over (too focused), telling her shhh no barking... nothing matters she's so zoned into her own world.

 

Thanks all!! :)

Kim
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Joined: 2012-02-05

I'll start this with asking if you've seen a vet for this, in case there's some kind of problem going on with her that needs some attention. There's things that can cause emotional/mental symptoms that can clear up with treatment. So that's my first thought. (I added this after thinking about things for a bit. lol)

The "Up against the wall" thing does sound kind of odd. I don't have any idea about that. But the window at night....maybe this will help.

When Lib and Dil were younger, they were in their crates at night and when I left the house. The couple times I left them out, they were just freaked out, because they had to keep an eye on the whole house. After a couple tries, I put them back in their crates when I was gone.

When Jesse, my first Aussie, came along, I didn't have a crate, and he was fine loose in the house. He was calm and easy. When Lib and Dil saw he was ok with being out loose, they relaxed and they were too.

So, provided there's no medical issues - I'm guessing here - maybe your girl is just a bit emotionally freaked out about having to "watch" the house at night when everyone is sleeping. She's still young, and might be emotionally unable to handle it well. You've said that she was anxious and timid when she came, so that's a possibility.

Do you crate her? I would either keep her in the bedroom with you, or crate her, so she doesn't have to do that. Maybe when she gets a bit older and calmer she'll be able to handle it better.

But it sounds like she gets herself pretty frazzled about being the only one awake and watching over things, and the less sleep she gets, the more frazzled. It's a vicious cycle. Maybe if she wasn't up all night worrying, the wall thing would change too - I don't know.

Just a thought.....

whiskeygirl's picture
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Hey Kim,

 

Whiskey has been to the vet's a couple of times, the vet actually saw the wall behaviour and was like "what a funny girl" but that's about it.  It's deifnitely a stress response of some kind, but we have no idea why she's stressed at all.  It seems like she gets stressed as soon as we're with her but not directly interacting with her (like right now as I type on my laptop her butt is glued to the couch and shes staring at me and whining then she'll walk over to the french doors, glue her butt to them and whine more lol).  Very odd, I think she's just an attention necessitating dog that hates not getting her way?  :/

 

The window thing at night is actually only when we're awake and downstairs with her, she sleeps in her crate just fine (which is beside the window that creates her so much stress lol).  She sleeps from 11pm or so when we put her in until 8am or so when I wake up and let her out.  It's from sundown until bedtime that she watched the window and freaks out on nothing.  I know she's young and it might be shadows or something, I'm just lost in 

1) how are we supposed to react to this in order to downplay it so that eventually she ignores the window and accepts it as an inanimate object of no concern

2) how are we supposed to react in order to not encourage her stress over the window without breaking dominancy rules (if I go to the window and stand with her with a hand holding her collar she calms down, but I can't stand there with her all night and I can't get up every three minutes to stand with her... it doesn't have a long lansting effect).

 

Thanks for the reply Kim, I appreciate the help!  :)

Kim
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Ok, got it!  Glad the vet has seen her.

So here's a way out thought. (Well, not that bad. LOL!)

Her nervous system sounds like she's wired pretty tight. I'm wondering if she's "self-medicating" with the pressing her body against solid things in order to ease her nervousness.

It's exactly what a Thundershirt would do if you put one on her.

You can try a Thundershirt on her, or for starters, I would get down right next to her, wrap your arms around her snugly, and hold her against your body for 5 minutes. You don't want to squeeze the breath out of her, but make it snug. It might calm down her nervous system. If it works, it should last for a few hours at least, with the time in between "hugs" getting longer and longer. (With the Thundershirt still an option.)

I would also put her on Rescue Remedy - it's a blend of flower essences to help with anxiety and panic. You can drop it in her mouth (they don't always like the taste), put it on her food, or in her water dish every time you give her fresh water. You can find it at any health food store.

It's just my opinion, but I really don't think this is a training/dominance thing at all. (I could be wrong - it wouldn't be the first time. Ha!) I'm just not sure she can help herself, especially considering her temperment.

Just remember not to feel sorry for her - she'll pick up on that in a heartbeat! They're just so dang smart!

Good luck, and I'm holding a good thought for you!

 

Konkie's picture
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Good advice from Kim IMO.

Do you know if she has had her first season yet? Possibility she could be acting strange if it's imminent.

Also, is it possible she can actually see herself in the window and this is what she is barking at?

Best of luck :)

leslieak's picture
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I think Kim also has some good suggestions. I have two dobe mixes that we adopted as "almost adults" from shelters. We used the thundershirt on Argo when we first got him for storms and it did help some. I guess I would also say that 7 weeks with you is really not that long and she is still probably adjusting to the situation and experiencing generalized stress. The wall thing is interesting because Zooey, who we adopted at 8 months after spending a long stint as a puppy in a shelter, does that behavior with me. She will stand in front of me and then back in to me to lean her whole side against me on a fairly frequent basis. She has come a long way with being more comfortable with my husband but she often does it when he is in the room. It definitely seems like a security thing to me.

Zooey also does the thing where she will stare at me and whine for attention (it used to be a bark so we see it as progress that it has downgraded to a whine). Zooey requires alot of playtime and exercise, definitely more than Argo, so I do feel like I try to give her attention and distract her with toys and lots of exercise to prevent the restlessness. However, she can't get attention all the time so I have worked on telling her to "settle" when I can't play with her or I think she has gotten enough attention. I praise her when she lies down or starts chewing on an antler in response to entertain herself. I also use "enough" and then ignore her when she is whining or barking and praise her once she stops for at least 30 seconds - I do think it has helped the reduction in barking and whining. It is hard to ignore but any reaction from you will just make it more likely to continue.

In terms of the window, both of mine are protective and bark at things outside from our front window, but I feel Zooey was much more reactive and protective of her new digs and me when we first got her than Argo was. We do have long, thick curtains that we draw closed over the windows in the evening and when they seem particularly focused on barking. I also have seen a big improvement in Zooey not being so overly protective as time has gone on and she seems to have reduced her barking and is more comfortable with strangers. We have had her for 10 months so I think it can take quite awhile for a dog, that is almost an adult, to get secure in a new environment. I also do want them to bark if something is suspicious outside so if it seems like they really think something is there I will go to the window, look out, and say "enough", then walk away and they almost seem to stop quicker because I've checked it out and told them it is no big deal. Again, just keep in mind that it takes consistency over time to see a difference in some of the stress-related behaviors, especially with an adopted almost adult/doberteen dog. Once they settle in and trust that they are there to stay, they are so loyal, loving, and fun that it makes it all worth it!

talisin's picture
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ditto to the reflection of herself in the window - she can most likely see herself at times in the window so close the curtains or get some if you don't have them....

The leaning thing yes try the thundershirt.....just recently we got info in our rescue organization about a new tendency in dog under high stress like in a shelter - they place their head into the wall and do the same thing you describe, it is a stress reaction....it's just now coming to light so maybe the vets are not versed in it yet so keep mentioning it so that she won't have to wear the thundershirt forever....it is a disorder and should be addressed before it escalates beyond repair....but removing her own reflection might help and the rescue remedy is always a good idea....and if the thundershirt works but doesn't fix it then consider acupuncture - that takes the thundershirt to highest level - the shirt works on the pressure points that relieve stress, so if it works but she needs more move to the big daddy of the shirt and do the actual acupuncture. I was told by a vet acupuncturist that you need 3 sessions to determine if it is working if after the 3rd one you see improvement even slight then continue - if you do the 3rd one and there is NO change then stop and don't waste your money......you will see something within those first 3 sessions and here in my area sessions are around $50 a pop

hope she improves!!!!!