Great Pyrenees

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!

Great Pyrenees

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.

Great Pyrenees

Have you ever had a dog that suddenly became anxious? Was there a health problem or was it solely a behavioral issue?

9 comments on “Poor Mauja”

  1. Poor Mauja! Zoe has general anxiety and I can totally relate to this. Her anxiety actually got worse after we moved around a few times, too. It kind of sounds to me like Mauja was/is trigger stacking (she could of been doing this from the very beginning as a puppy and just wasn’t displaying the signs or they were so subtle you just didn’t notice, it happens to people all the time, don’t feel bad) and it sounds like her threshold is really low. If the appointment with the vet comes back that everything is normal (I’d probably have them run a full thyroid test even though she’s really young and send it to Dr. Dodds), I would ask the vet to consult with a vet behaviorist and I would start her on anxiety meds. (Don’t let them give you Xanax. You want the pet equivalent to prozac) With anxiety meds it can take some fiddling to get the dosage right so be prepared for that. Neither of my dogs had any side effects but I know of some people who have experienced it. You may also want to look into a behavioral consult with a PR trainer who specializes in reactivity and fear behaviors so you can get started on behavior mod. I would also join “Reactive Dogs” on FB. A lot of the members are going through the same thing. I can also put you into contact with my friend Heather who’s dog has very similar anxiety to Mauja and her dog is on prozac, if you would like to talk to someone.

  2. I wish i had advice… I’ve got a two year old male catahoula that seems to have a lot of anxieties. I shrug and joke to people that he’s “neurotic” but the truth is, it makes me sad to see him so stressed out over things that seem so minor, things that never bothered him before. I’ve stopped taking him on walks and/or to public places where something “new” might happen. But i do still take him to his nosework class – it is relatively predictable for him, he really enjoys it, and i feel that it’s the only thing keeping him from being a recluse.

    I speculate, in my case, that because catahoulas are a working breed – he was bred to herd cattle – and i don’t have cows. or ducks. or sheep or anything that gives him that outlet – that his anxieties come from being unemployed. I have to play a lot of games with him both in the yard and in the house to keep him from having a complete meltdown – but these rainy days we’re having now really limit what we can do and he’s now taken to hiding in/under things.

  3. Oh no. This post is heartbreaking. When rescued Khloee when she was 3 months old and as she’s gotten older, she’s gotten more fearful and stressed out in unfamiliar situations. We’ve worked hard to get her more comfortable, but it just really hasn’t worked. Places I take Wynston to, I could never take Khloee to. It’s been an interesting experience. I sure hope that you get things resolved with Mauja and that it’s not a medical problem.

  4. I feel bad for your baby and for you .I agree with the vet visit to make sure nothing is going on medically.l would seriously contact Cesar Milan .And no I am not kidding .Forward him you info you shared with us .I would really stress to him about the growing anxiety .If anyrhing he might have some insight

  5. HI. Poor Mauja, it sounds horrible for her. And in my experience once they have something that upsets them/terrifies them, they never forget. Remy was given tramadol for pain relief from a broken toe, it sent him into total paranoia, he was afraid of everything. He was only on it for 24 hours and I got him something different but during that time period a small piece of the metal fell out of the gas fire surround in the sitting room, since then, if either my husband or I goes anywhere near the fire, he cowers, he wasn’t even near it when it happened but I guess the noise upset him when he was in a fragile state already.

    You have me worried, we’re moving from Mississippi to Texas next week. Remy, since he was 10 weeks old, has gone to puppy play at least twice a week so he can get time with other dogs. He adores Toni the girl that runs puppy play. He has recently had his first of two TPLO surgeries (at only 18 months old poor little sausage). And so since his surgery, and during times whilst I have been having work done on the house, I take him to puppy play but just to lay in the small reception area next to Toni, just so that he doesn’t start trying to protect the house and me with the workmen here Whilst he’s on leg rest. Anyway, I am so worried that he’s suddenly going to lose all of the things he loves and his ‘securities’. I am worried that he’s going to get anxious with staying in a hotel or if we have to find boarding/daycare, and it’s a totally new environment, he’s going to get upset. Since he was a puppy he’s boarded occasionally, but he has only ever stayed where he knows people and loves them…….. Ugh HELP.

  6. I’m so sorry. Sounds like the whole family is stressed. I hope the vet has some advice. Toby developed the same behavior Mauja has to new people as a result of therapy dog work. He’s okay till they reach out to touch him, then he backs up. Just behavioral, no illness. Hope things improve for Mauja.

  7. So sorry that your sweet baby is having a hard time.

    We have a 13-year-old Pyr named Moe who has been my sons service dog for 11 years – my son has autism. We rescued Moe when he was 18 months old, and at the time we nothing about the breed. All we knew is that he came loping out and headed straight for Paul – gave him a kiss and laid down at his feet.

    We were Moe’s third family, and it was discovered about a year after we brought him home that someone had broken both of his back legs with something like a baseball bat. He suddenly went lame, and we searched high and low for ways to help him. Eventually we ended up with a doggy chiropractor who turned out to be a godsend.

    She told us that the dangers of the distemper vaccine were enormous, that it can cause, among other things, lameness and behavioral changes. She showed me how to massage those poor legs, and she also did acupuncture on him. I kind of thought that was out there but to my surprise it worked!

    Moe trained himself through pure instinct to alert when Paul would go downstairs without permission in the middle of the night, and was also his stability partner when walking. We have gone through some pretty awful stuff in the past few years, and Moe has been my chief comforter and defender. He owns my heart forever.

    We now have a 14 week old pyr puppy named Grace. Moe is training her to help their boy since he is almost totally deaf now. Grace was the tiniest one in her litter and extremely attached to her mother. We chose her because out of all the puppies she was all over him from the very moment that she saw him. She came home at 10 weeks and at first everything was fine – then the diarrhea began. Then wetting her crate. I take my son to his program every morning and would leave her in her crate. One day I came home and found she had turned her crate – with her in it – upside down. The vet said it was separation anxiety and we needed a doggy psychologist. Her breeder said separation anxiety, and to either take her with me to take him to school or leave her in the backyard with my Westie. Overnight the problems were gone.

    I’m just thinking maybe those are two possible answers to your situation. If it is the vaccine there are very few vets who will tell you that. There is a great deal of information on the ongoing debate online. I know it about killed me to let them give Grace that vaccine. I am praying that she won’t suffer in the future because of it.

    I would strongly suggest a homeopath or a canine chiropractor to balance out whatever the vet may have to say. Please do keep us posted!

  8. Check her blood for infections – past or present. Infection based anxiety is well known, particularly around tick borne illnesses, strep etc. I’d definitely check for tickborne infections present AND past. It they’re present – that could very well be the culprit.

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