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Hi everyone. Sorry this is so long, but I hope some of you will take the time to read it and give me your thoughts because my 12 year old border collie x briard has begun acting a little odd.

A few weeks ago I got up in the morning to find her gone. She had jumped out of the living room window. To say that this is out of character for her redefines the word 'understatement'!
Thankfully after a terrifying hour she was recovered safe and sound. Everyone has theories as to why she jumped out, the most popular one being because there was a storm, but Widget has never shown any fear or apprehension to storms in the past other than occassionally growling at very loud thunder.
She also pays no attention to passers by, other dogs, cats, foxes etc so it's unlikely something like this drew her out.
We put it down to a one off weird thing and resolved never to leave her unattended with the window open again!

Last week I got up to find that she had clearly been on the window sill in the night, ornaments, the phone, and a vase had all been knocked over, which is odd behaviour in itself, Widget is not a clumsy dog and hates knocking things, she's almost cat like in the way she moves around things in the house, (as opposed to my other dog who tends to just crash her way through things oblivious to the destruction in her wake!!)

At this point I started to worry that maybe she has some neurological problem, maybe even a brain tumour. We decided that we would set up a video camera to record the window at night, try to 'catch her at it', but we haven't yet had a chance to set this up.

Last night, there was another storm. Lightning and thunder were flashing and rumbling all evening, all of which she paid NO attention to at all.
We went to bed and after about 10 minutes heard a noise from downstairs. My other half got up to investigate and said she was laying in front of the sofa panting heavily, but that when he went in, she seemed to settle, stopped panting and went back into her bed.
About 5 minutes after he came back to bed there was a crash. We both went down to find she had tucked herself into a miniscule gap between the sofa and the coffee table. She scrambled out and once again seemed to settle.

Concluding that this newly acquired storm fear only seemed to affect her when we weren't there, we decided she could come sleep in our room. She trotted happily upstairs and tucked herself away under our bed. She seemed fine until I finished reading my book & turned out the light, then she began pacing and panting and pacing and panting.
This went on and on and on. Eventually I got up to get her a bowl of water, and it was only when I went to switch off the landing light, that i realised this was the other thing that changed when we went to bed, the room going dark.

Bizarre as it sounded I decided to test the theory, I switched my bedside light on, she stopped panting and pacing, went under the bed and fell asleep, remaining there all night!

So, what do you all think? Can she have suddenly developed a fear of both storms & the dark? Or does this sound more like a neurological problem?

Any thoughts appreciated!
 

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Hmm, so she's only afraid when it's dark. Maybe firecrackers at night spooked her so she's associated the dark with fear??

Another thought, you said she isn't really afraid of thunder but is she afraid when she's outside during a thunderstorm. I know my dog's like that, with average storms. He's fine inside unless there is a particularly loud thunder but outside, he's terrified.

Anyway what I'm getting at is maybe something other than the storm caused her to jump out the window and once outside, if she couldn't get back in, then thunder could have really scared her. So now she fears night time darkness and thunder?

Again using my dog as an example, there is one section of the path I take him to walk on that he is particularly tense at night because of firecrackers and thunder a few times before. He's fine during the day or if we're past that short section of path.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi and thanks for the reply.

She's never shown any fear of fireworks either, and no, she's not afraid of storms when she's outside, she was outside for the start of the one last night, I only called them in when it started to rain really heavily.

I did consider that the fear of a storm in the dark might be caused by her having spent the night out in one alone, but still can't imagine what would have caused her to jump out in the first place.
 

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You know, I've never really understood why a dog would jump out a window due to a storm since you'd think they'd feel safer inside :rolleyes:.

Anyways, I'm still inclined to think that something really spooked her about the dark when she jumped outside. So now she could be feeling less secure in the dark and is scared more easily.

Has she seem uncoordinated or confused recently? I've heard that stroke could cause a change in behavior but this doesn't really sound like it.

as for why she jumped outside....maybe she saw ghosts
 

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Well, she's 12 years old, have you had her vision checked lately? It could be that her vision is going bad and she had a bad experience because of it. Most often it's health changes that affect a dog behavior. I's have her checked thoroughly including checks for Cataracts and Glaucoma. In the mean time, perhaps leave a small night light on for her as a comfort.
 

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The first thing that came to mind was some kind of issue with her vision. This seems counter-intuitive though since dogs usually see well in low light. Having said that, night vision is often the first to go with PRA and other degenerative eye diseases. Have you thought about contacting a vet? It sounds like a medical problem is at the root of this, even if it has behavioral effects... just a hunch though.

Edit: Oops, Carla and I posted at the same time.

Edit 2: I just re-read your post and took note of your girl's breed. Central PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) is very common in both Border Collies and Briards. I would get her checked out at by a vet ASAP. PRA often starts with night blindness and progresses to total blindness.
 

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LOL, great minds think alike Rosemary!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the replies, I've been wondering about eyesight, although the times in between these 3 incidences she has been perfectly normal, and I'm also unsure as to why an eye problem would only make her scared at night of storms and not any other time?
She has no problems in the garden at night, and before I worked out putting the light on would settle her last night, she paced round and round the room without any problems or knocking into anything.

There are absolutely no other 'weird' or unusual behaviours that she's showing. She's as lively as ever out on walks, and given the rate of knots she belts through the forest at, certainly no vision issues there. She's her usual responsive self to commands both visual and vocal, eating as normal - everything normal really except this sudden apparent fear of storms at night!

We've had quite a bit of thunder lately and (just as usual) she shows no sign of any fear or anxiety while we're there - not saying it's our presence but obviously when we're there the light's on too!
We've just been and bought night lights for her to see if that helps and I'm intending to book her in for a check up, tho it's not long since she last had her annual 'mot'.

Thanks for all the replies, any more thoughts, suggestions most welcome :)
 

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I just re-read your post and took note of your girl's breed. Central PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) is very common in both Border Collies and Briards. I would get her checked out at by a vet ASAP. PRA often starts with night blindness and progresses to total blindness.
I could most certainly be wrong but I thought I remember something about Central PRA and PRA being different and that for CPRA, low light vision was one of the later things to go. *shrug*

Having a vet checkup to rule out health issues is definitely a good idea though. Hope there nothing's wrong.
 
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