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Canine Behavior/dog's sudden behavior


My dog is a Yorkie Poo.  She is 13 months old and weighs 6 lbs.  She has always slept with us and in the last three nights has started trembling (or muscle tremors) when I put her in the bed.  She will sleep fine until we go to bed and then seems to be scared.  Wants to get up but doesn't want up without us. This morning it has continued with her sleeping deeply on the couch but she is curled up tight in a ball and I can see the muscle rippling in her body.  She seems frightened. What could be causing this action or reaction so suddenly?

First stop: veterinarian.  Your Yorkie Poo might be in pain (could be orthopedic).  Jumping on and off furniture/beds will make this pain severe.  The dog associates the pain with the immediate environment: bed, couch, etc., not her own behavior (jumping onto same).  She also may have other physiological issues.  If she's approaching estrus, it could be hormonal.  Do not spay her if she has not been spayed; have an estrogen titer done and let her go through the first estrus cycle.  Do a comprehensive blood chemistry, also.

While this is ongoing, try to answer the following questions:

1.  Can you even remotely try (I know this is very hard) to identify even the slightest reason this began three nights ago: was anything different, did you or your partner have a nightmare, etc.  
2.  "Wants to get up but doesn't want up without us" makes me think this is physical pain.  Have you noticed her favoring a particular leg or licking at a particular foot?
3.  Sleeping "deeply" is a tricky thing to observe: most animals sleep with "one eye open" but a very deep sleep might indicate other physiological problems.  What happens if you waken her?  How does she behave immediately?  (Do it gently, very gently, verbally without touching her.)

Use followup to advise me what veterinarian said.  Make sure you see a very experienced generalist: a veterinary internist is preferred but they're not easy to find and usually require referral from a general veterinarian.  Meanwhile:  THINK.  I know how difficult it is to remember a slight occurrence that meant nothing in itself but may have set this dog off but it's worth a try.  Do NOT reward this behavior by "coddling" the dog or trying to "comfort" her.  Have a "party", be jolly and happy, reward her happy tail and bright attention.  Call that vet tomorrow AM.

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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

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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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