Over the past several months, Mauja has been dealing with a few issues of unknown origin. I’ve told you before about Mauja’s anxiety issues, but in case you’re new here or missed it, let me catch you up.
Mauja joined our family when we were in California. The area we lived in was extremely dog-friendly and always had beautiful weather – just perfect for getting out with your dog! So, obviously, we took Mauja with us almost everywhere we went. If we couldn’t bring Mauja, we typically didn’t go.
Needless to say, her socialization was pretty amazing. She only had one negative experience that I can remember, which was actually a dog park incident. Let’s just say we had to pull out the hose on the other dog to get her away from poor Mauja. She was only 5 months old and she bounced right back. We never noticed any issues that we could associate with that incident.
When Mauja was seven months old, we got orders to move to Montana. Mauja had already lived in three houses by seven months, but they were all in the same town. We wondered how she would do with a move across state lines. When she realized she finally had a backyard at our new house, she didn’t seem to even notice the move.
Shortly after the move, we took Mauja to the local Petco to get her out and about. She was terrified and actually hid on a shelf. We figured that maybe she wasn’t feeling well or there was a smell/sound that bothered her. We didn’t think much of it.
Since that incident, she has hated going in new buildings and gets pretty stressed. For the past two and a half years, we have diligently worked with her to try and help her be comfortable in new environments. We were actually making progress – she didn’t cry the entire time we were in the store!
Almost like flicking a light switch, she went back to stage one. She became extremely stressed anytime we went into any building. We tried various, natural calming supplements to try and calm her enough that we could work on training. We even tried the Thundershirt which actually made her even more stressed. We still haven’t found anything that helps.
For the past 4-5 months, we’ve been noticing Mauja becoming more and more stressed in (what we think are) random situations. She’s now afraid of us cooking on the stove and refuses to come in the house when we do. Every few nights, she’ll pant heavily and crawl on the couch to snuggle (something she rarely does unless she’s stressed).
She’s also becoming more hesitant around people. When someone comes to pet her, she leans forward excitedly, but immediately pulls back when the individual reaches for her. After a few seconds, she warms up, but she’s always very cautious now.
The most interesting change is how she’s been around other dogs. Mauja’s typically our social butterfly – loves everyone and always ready to play. Recently, things have been a bit different. When she’s outside with other dogs, everything is completely normal. However, when she’s inside with other dogs she will randomly lash out. We still haven’t figured out the trigger that makes her upset. We thought it was when she felt cornered, but it began happening in more and more situations.
I had an unsocial dog before and Mauja’s behavior hasn’t shown any true aggression. It seems like she gets anxious to the point that she doesn’t know what to do. A quick snarl fest is a way for her to release the tension. We have to make sure she gets plenty of relaxing time when she’s inside so she doesn’t have to go through that feeling.
I won’t go on and on, but to sum it up, we just don’t always know why she’s stressed. It’s heartbreaking.
We have a vet appointment coming up so we can make sure there isn’t anything internal going on that’s causing her stress. Right now, we’re just practicing situation management to keep her as comfortable as possible. We are still working with her to help her get through it, but we are definitely more aware and cautious.
Have you ever had a dog that suddenly became anxious? Was there a health problem or was it solely a behavioral issue?