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Canine Behavior/Weird behavioral 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.

Thank you for your question. Whenever we see a sudden and dramatic behavior change such as you're describing, the first order of business is a complete physical exam, including blood work. She may have injured herself while running around at the farm. Your family may not have noticed and the pain may have increased over the next day or so. Or she may have picked up a bug over those couple days. You said she got a couple of ticks. Ticks carry disease and so even a small (short lived) bite could transmit illness. And, there's always coincidence in timing. She may have an illness, injury or other medical condition that is entirely irrelevant to her recent adventure and it just happened to manifest this week.

If this were happening to one of my dogs, I would be heading to the vet ASAP. I'd rather spend the $50 - $150 on the exam/blood work and have it all come back negative/normal, than NOT go to the vet and find out later that there was something easily treatable that I missed.

Now, if your vet gives your dog a clean bill of health, then we can chalk it up to over exhaustion from two VERY stimulating days. Dogs, just like children (and adults), can become overly exhausted and the resulting behavior can manifest in several different ways. Sometimes we see dogs (and children) become aggressive and short-tempered when they're too tired. They trigger easily to lashing out. Some become lethargic and withdrawn (more what you're describing). Some don't want the fun to end, even though they're beyond tired (still wanting to spend time outside, even though the party is over).

Years ago, I took my dog to a dog beach for the first time. It was a 2.5 hour drive to the beach, then about 6 hours at the beach, then a night at a friend's house and to a dog park the next day before the 2.5 hour drive back home. She was exhausted for about 3 or 4 days after that. No energy, no efforts to play fetch/tug (which she normally played for several hours per day), no interest in running around the house/yard, etc. It was clear that she was just worn out from the amazing adventure she'd had over those two days. But, her behavior was otherwise completely normal - potty/eating habits, coming to bed, level of snuggle interest, etc. So I wasn't worried about my dog in that case.

What you describe may be more than just tired as there are other behavior changes you've observed, besides being less interested in play for a few days after her big adventure. So, I would be getting her in to see the vet in the next 34-48 hours if at all possible to make sure there's nothing medical being missed. If she's totally healthy, then I'd just maintain her routine as much as possible and she should come around in another couple days.

Good luck. Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance, or just to update me as to her progress (or if the vet finds something wrong with her).

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

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