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Canine Behavior/Behavior change


Our family has a 6 year old spayed female Brittany Spaniel. We have had her for all her life we live in town, we always have and she lately her behavior has been very weird. If you didn't already know, Brittany's are very active and have a lot of energy. She normally has a bunch of energy, loves to cuddle up in bed with me, barks at everything outside, and is just over all a sweet dog. On the 25th my dad and brothers took our dog (Dixie) out to our grandparents and let her run around. She had fun I'm sure, she got a few ticks but she already has been treated with frontline. We had a big bonfire on the 26th. We had our neighbors over and Dixie was outside with us from 3 pm until around 1 am. She just hung out with us and when it was around 1 am she didn't want to come inside. Yesterday and today she has been acting all timid and weird. At night she always cuddles in bed with me and last night and the night before I call her into my room and she won't come in my bed. When she does she acts all scared and just sits on my bed and she won't lie down and get comfortable. She is also pacing, walking around the house and she won't just relax and get comfortable. Normally When she has to pee/poop she always lies by our door to let us know and lately she always goes over to the door and wants to be let out and she doesn't even have to pee/poop. Normally she loves being inside with us so this is weird. Also, she doesn't bark at anything anymore. Yesterday a dog walked by our house and she looked at it and walked away. She always freaks out when a dog walks by so I thought that was strange. Also, yesterday we let her lie outside in our yard on a rope and our neighbor came over. Normally when someone comes over she barks and freaks out and greets the person like runs over to the person. When our neighbor came over Dixie was lying in the yard looking up at the sky. I feel like I don't know her anymore. She seems lost, like she doesn't seem like the same dog we know and love.

We miss our playful dog! Why do you think there is a sudden behavior change? There isn't any trauma that I know of that could of happened to her. The only things that has happened lately is she went out to my grandparents farm to run around (I don't know what happened exactly at the farm because I didn't go with but my dad and brothers didn't say that anything happened) and we had a bonfire.

A sudden and drastic change in behavior requires as a first stop: veterinary behaviorist (not a generalist).  The dog requires blood work and a hands on by an experienced veterinarian who is able to determine (through blood work and by your reports and his/her evaluation of the dog) if something is physiologically wrong (Frontline, itself, can cause problems in some dogs, or she may have acquired some sort of pathogen while "out" in the "wild"), or if this is strictly behavioral.  That is where you must start.  You can find such a professional by calling the veterinary college in your geographical area or from the following sites:

Do NOT tie the dog up outside right now.
Do NOT "coddle her" when she demonstrates fear; it is possible that her sudden desire to be "out" and away from you is connected to the fact that, out of love, you have inadvertently rewarded her fear and she has chained it to you.
Go over this dog very, very carefully (with a fine tooth comb), looking for signs of injury (bite marks, scratches, etc.) or ticks (there are other communicable diseases that can cause neurological problems in both dogs and people).  If she has had the immunization against lymes disease, the titer will come up positive even if that's not what's wrong with her: that vaccination is only about 40% effective, by the way.

Do not hesitate, make this appointment immediately, even if you have to drive some distance to get there.  Use followup feature to update information, when you have it.  

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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