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Looking for some advice or insights...

Finn has always been a velcro dog -- my shadow --and as sweet as his devotion is, I know it's not just love --there's some component of anxiety to it and that makes me sad for him, sometimes. I guess the correct term is hyper attachment or attachment dysfunction.  BUT Finn has been well socialized and easy to train. Always happy to meet and greet new people in all sorts of settings - as long as I'm within sight. When he sees some of his favorite people, we still have to remind him to keep 4 paws on the floor. He's never had typical separation anxiety --never been destructive when left alone. He loves going places, seems to enjoy his therapy work - especially with the kids (although the children he had become so attached to over the past 2 years moved on to middle school and he's got a new group this year). On the flip side, he's territorial and protective when he's home but once he knows you're welcome, he's back to wagging his tail. So I have no explanation for his strange behavior last week when I took him to visit family and friends in VA.

He knows everyone, knows the house etc.  He's been going there several times a year since puppyhood and always enjoys it. He doesn't feel he has to "watch over" their home (which I think must be a huge relief to him) and greets everyone who comes in or out.  But this time he was:

Irrationally fearful as soon as we walked in the house.

Looked from side to side, behind him, up at the ceiling as if something was coming after him.  This state of high anxiety/fear continued over 4 days.  It was awful to see him so frightened and not be able to help him. He fell twice on the stairs trying to get away from...what???

Would not come to anyone including me. In fact, when I knelt down on the floor and tried to talk to him, he barked and barked at me, but would not approach me.  We gave him his "space" and everyone put treats in their pockets that they would toss to him as he passed. I picked up a lot of treats.

Ran up to our room if anyone approached him. He seemed to feel safe on the bed.  He spent a lot of time there over 4 days. I was able to to calm him in the bedroom.

He barely ate (despite us cooking up ground beef and chicken) for him.  Nope, wouldn't touch it. Drank lots of water.

When he was with all of us, he avoided being touched by anyone, except once when he sought out my niece's husband.

I was about to take him to the emergency vet BUT he seemed to relax when we went for walks.  Once back in the house though, his fear increased again and he acted like ghosts were chasing him. We were all concerned. One guest asked if he was blind!  Someone else thought he was an abused rescue - not trying to be dramatic but that's how bizarre his behavior was.  

Got him home, called his vet, but once home he was back to normal (thankfully). His therapy session with the kids this week (which I thought about canceling) went ok. We just returned from some errands this morning and he greeted everyone happily -customers and rescue pups -- as we shopped for Christmas treats. Several people remarked how sweet, friendly and well behaved he was. I'm thinking you should have seen him a week ago !!!!!!  SO glad my boy is back because I don't know who that dog was in VA. The doc wants to run a panel of thyroid tests.  

Medical or behavioral?  Completely baffled.

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That's good news, Cheryl. Hopefully, it won't happen again during your next visit.

My Chase is on Prozac, he has been on for two years now and no side effects so far. He has blood work done once a year to check liver, kidneys etc. He was five when I made the decision to begin medicating him and for him it was the best thing I ever did. But, he was having problems with almost everything in life. I look back now at how miserable we all were because of his issues - hyper vigilant, 'high' all the time, getting into serious fights with my other dog, he couldn't concentrate for more than a few seconds at a time, panted, drooled, had sweaty paws, couldn't stay still,...... and the list goes on. I tried everything - lavender oil, thunder shirt, Rescue Remedy, behaviour modification training, you name it, I tried it! No amount of exercise made a difference, he was just an exhausted anxious dog! The Prozac has helped with all of that, he is still the same crazy, goofy dog, and he still has problems but he is much more manageable now and it is easier for me bring him down when something sets him off.

I don't think that Finn, based on just this one episode, sounds like he needs to be medicated. Hopefully it was a one off situation and it won't happen again. There was just something in that house that time you visited that worried him. But, what I'm trying to say is don't be afraid of medicating if there continue to be issues down the road. I found with Chase once we got him on the right dose, the training and behaviour modification was much more effective because then he was actually able to concentrate.

Stella, I'm glad to hear the Prozac has helped Chase and thanks for sharing because your experience.  It's good to know.

Medical cation can be very helpful if needed.
Well good news indeed. Hopefully it was all just a one-off situation.

I'm so glad the medical tests didn't show any health problems.  If your vet would just spend some 'quality' time with reality TV, he would understand those pesky ghosts conveniently turn up, then disappear simply to keep the viewer entertained, and not dismiss this theory so readily.  :-}   Just think, Finn could have his own show, thus making you independently wealthy.  I can see it now. . . ."Finn, Doodle Ghost-buster Extraordinaire"

So glad the lab work is normal! Whew! I hope it was just a one time incident.  Sounds like a great plan going forward!

Hi Cheryl,

Just saw your post and wanted to share that I had a similar experience with Paz.   Generally Paz does not respond to noise as we live in a big city, surrounded by noise, however, this past March I had an unusal experience when I arrived at the testing site for his Pet Partners recertification.  Paz literally refused to be led into one segment of the testing room which was located on the second floor of a building overlooking a busy street; the tester told me that several of the dogs had the same issue in that they also refused to be led into that same segment of the testing room.  We tried to figure out what the dogs were hearing or seeing that spooked them so badly, but none of us "humans" had a clue; it was apparent that the dogs could hear or see something that scared them because several of the dogs had the same response.  I suspect that your baby was spooked by something that only a dog can hear or see.

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