Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why hello, fear period. How (not) nice to see you again.

I have been completely puzzled by my dog's behavior for the past two days. Normally, she's a lunatic. She requires several training sessions, frisbee sessions, walks, each day. They're interchangeable, but if she doesn't get several she's swinging from chandeliers, nuts. Nibbling, running, barking, crazy.

Yesterday, she spent the whole day with her Kong, which has been pretty much ignored lately. She seemed fine otherwise, we did a training session and she was still focused and ready to work, her appetite is fine, totally normal, just very quiet and reserved, not at all herself. Not that it was unpleasant, just odd. She quietly carried around her Kong all day, stayed near me but was very, very, very calm, with only one brief training session, which is unprecedented.

Last night, she was glued to my side all night. She usually sleeps on the floor or on the foot of the bed, but she spent part of the night laying with her head on my shoulder and her back pressed up against my stomach, part of it curled up in a ball smooshed up against me. Very weird.

This morning? She was afraid of her Kong. Because it was on tile instead of carpet, and moving slightly after it had been touched. She would go to pick it up...touch it with her teeth...and get scared and run away. Took her six times to pick the thing up. To say that she's normally a confident dog would be an understatement.

I told Eric about it before I went to the daycare today, and he said, "Huh, sounds like her second fear period's started."

Sure enough. She's nine and a half months old. I'm familiar enough with fear periods, but her last one was months and months ago so I did some Googling and found this:

"Second Fear Imprint Period (6 - 14 Months) The Second Fear Imprint Period is similar to the one that occurred during the socialization period, but, it is much less defined. It occurs as dogs enter adolescence and seems more common in males. It is often referred to as adolescent shyness. Your dog may suddenly become reluctant to approach something new or suddenly become afraid of something familiar. This behavior can be very frustrating to the owner and difficult to understand because its onset is so sudden and, seemingly, unprovoked. If you notice this behavior, it is important to avoid the two extremes in response: Don't force him to do or approach something frightening to him and don't coddle or baby him. To get through situations that make your dog fearful, be patient, kind, and understanding. Desensitize him to the object or situation by gradually introducing him to it and using food rewards and praise to entice him to confront the fearful object or situation. Do not coddle or reassure him in any way that will encourage his fearful behavior. Do not correct him either. Simply make light of it and encourage him give him food rewards as he begins to deal with his fear better. Make sure you lavishly praise his attempts! This phase will pass."

Well, there you go. I don't know why I didn't think of that.

1 comment:

  1. That's amazing; I had no idea that dogs would go through periods of a certain type of behavior except maybe as puppies. :)