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We've had this problem with Burley for a little under two weeks now, and everyone we've asked is just as puzzled as we are. We've had her for a little over five months and never in that time has she ever exhibited any behaviors like she has lately. She's very high energy but very quiet. Before these past two weeks we've never heard her bark, growl, or yelp at anyone or anything, for any reason. She used to love being around my husband and I and would follow us everywhere, sitting our laps, rolling over and asking for belly rubs... She also loves attention and this made her very easy to train. She knows sit, stay, come, lay down, paw, roll over, "go get your bone" (her favorite toy), crate, and bed, all of them she learned within the first month after we adopted her. Up until these past couple weeks she always listened to us. We never had to tell her a second time to do something, she was always very responsive to verbal commands.

All of a sudden two weeks or so ago, she just woke up one morning and became a royal nightmare. Out of nowhere, she didn't want anything to do with us, and stopped listening to all commands. Every time we tell her to do something now, in the same exact tone as we always do, she growls, pees on the floor, and runs out of the room. Sometimes she does this (same pattern, always growling while peeing and then running away) when we just walk into the room. Yesterday I got a snack out of the fridge and she did it when I started eating. It seems like whenever we do anything she does this. She usually has a very normal schedule when it comes to going outside to go to the bathroom but lately we've been taking her out 20+ times a day because of this and 90% of the time she doesn't even go.

When she does this, she only pees for about a second before running off so telling her "no" or making a loud noise to stop her doesn't work because by the time I realize what she's doing, she's already done and taken off running.

She won't go in her crate anymore (she used to LOVE her crate) so we have to pick her up to put her in, and when we do she always tries to bite us (and sometimes she succeeds). We're just not sure what to do, or what our next steps should be. We love Burley like our daughter but she seems to not be interested in us, or trying to do anything to please us anymore.

We originally thought it might be some kind of infection but that was ruled out early on. We've been back and forth to our vet three times, haven't figured out anything. We've asked all our fellow dog owner friends for advice and none of them know what to tell us. My one friend said it sounded like what happened to her Mom's dog when she went senile... but Burley is only one and a half years old. She's current on all her vaccinations, and is otherwise very healthy.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? It's obvious to us that something is very wrong and we want to help Burley but we don't know how. It just happened all of a sudden one day, but we never expected it to last this long. There has been nothing that we can figure out that has changed about her environment at all. We've had to keep her in her crate more often then we'd like to lately (she still growls in her crate but doesn't pee) because it happens so often and we were taking hours out of our day cleaning up after her. Could it be some kind of mental problem? Has anyone has had anything remotely close to this happen to their dog and figured out what was wrong? What should we do next?
 

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My best guess in that something terrified her. Sounds like submissive peeing out of panic. A whole lot more aggression is caused by fear than anything else.

My guess is that something happened that you are not aware of.

I would try to interact as calmly and as little as possible and let her find her way back to me. Pushing her for attention won't likely work.

I would try to exercise her a lot. I would keep her on a long drag line so I could calmly correct or manage behaviors without reaching for her.

I keep a 6 x 6 kennel around for foster dogs. I would go to using the kennel and then retraining the crate step by step and try to rebuild it as a fun and safe place.

The least pressure you can put on her right now is best.

I would be seeing an experienced trainer for input. Vets often aren't the best resources when it comes to behavior issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I would try to interact as calmly and as little as possible and let her find her way back to me. Pushing her for attention won't likely work.

I would try to exercise her a lot. I would keep her on a long drag line so I could calmly correct or manage behaviors without reaching for her.
Since this has all started, we have been just giving her space and keeping our distance. We let her out to go to the bathroom and to run around by herself outside but (and I forgot to mention this one) she won't let us walk her. She literally just plants herself and won't move until we open the door for her to go back inside. She's done this before when it's been too humid or something so we just let it go and let her inside. We've been expecting this to pass but it hasn't yet. How should we exercise her other than letting her out by herself?
 

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Did she used to be leash trained? To what level? By that, I mean, was she well-trained and eager or was she reluctant or a puller?

Has she gone places and off property with you? Or mostly stayed home and in your yard?
 

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Did she used to be leash trained? To what level? By that, I mean, was she well-trained and eager or was she reluctant or a puller?

Has she gone places and off property with you? Or mostly stayed home and in your yard?
Not completely. We would take her on walks around our neighborhood twice a day for 30 minutes each, and for the most part we got her to stop pulling and follow us unless there was ever another dog or another person around... we're still working on that.
 

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At a year and a half, she may be going through doggy adolescence where I've found they do one of two things: 1. Get really obnoxious and pushy and test their boundaries. 2. Get really withdrawn and insecure and need to be somewhat re-socialized. It sounds like you have #2 on your hands.

If her full blood panel is normal and she shows no other signs of illness, especially neurological signs you should go back to the basics with her. Refresh what she knows using LOTS of praise and treats and maybe look into some activities to help her build confidence such as agility or nosework. Start without the cue, like you did when you first trained her and work up to where you were before (it will take way less time but will reinforce what you want her to know.) You may need to change the words for the commands she knows if she is that upset by them. Just be really patient and gentle and she will come around.
 

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Useless Speculation..... Could she have had a bad dream, resulting in the hallucinated bad experience... I know that is ridiculous, because eve if possible, how would anyone know?

How about if you re-trained her, as if she had gone through a real traumatic experience... In other words, try treating the symptoms, rather than the normal way of treating the underlying problem ? (I agree with Lindbert)
 

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Have you noticed anything odd about her neurolgically? Any lack of coordination? Staring into space? For some reason epilepsy came to mind. It's about the right age for onset, and epileptic dogs can be fearful and confused for some time before and after a seizure. Probably not, but I'd be keeping an eye out for anything that looks wrong neurologically.
 

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Very odd. Sorry that you are going through this. Sounds like no fun at all.
This is just a suggestion, has anything happened to you or your spouse medically? Sometimes dogs can act scared if we are sick...or have an illness we aren't aware of.
Also, as Lindbert mentioned, she could be going through an adolescent stage where they can become "Rude, obnoxious and don't want to listen" and sometimes can become aggressive and want to make the rules of the house, or they can become very fearful and freaked out. That -might- be the case...
Also, puppies go through a "fear" stage ( at around 2 -3 months of age and again around 7 months to a year old), where if anything as scary as a mouse making a squeak could scar them for life. Perhaps something traumatic happened when you weren't aware of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So, some answers, an update, and some more questions:

We don't think that it is epilepsy... that actually crossed my mind in the beginning (myself and my youngest sister both have epilepsy, so I found myself reading up about dog epilepsy when we first adopted Burley just out of curiosity), but after observing her more closely she always seems alert and present despite everything else.

There haven't been any changes at all in our health, or with anything else in her life... we've gone over and over the events of day before this started happening and can't think of anything that we knew of that could have possibly caused it... as many of you have suggested, the only logical explanation is something scared her when we weren't home. I just can't imagine what... Burley usually isn't scared of anything. Thunderstorms and vacuums have never even phased her. We live 20 minutes away from the epicenter of that earthquake that was felt throughout much of the east coast in August, but when it hit, Burley was completely calm and relaxed throughout the whole thing. I'm not saying that it's not possible that something scared her, but just that it must have been something really out of the ordinary to terrify her this much.

As many of you have suggested, we've been treating her as though she's new in our home and has just been through significant trauma. I've read that you start with scared or submissive dogs by tossing treats their way and eventually rewarding them for coming near you with more treats (whenever they decide they are ready to come near you). Is this a good method to follow? She spends most of her time in the kitchen these days, so I'll slide the treats across the floor to her, but she never eats them. She'll sniff them and turn her head or walk away. It seems like this method would only work with a dog if it benefits from the interaction, which she isn't doing because she doesn't eat or appear to even want the treat at all. She usually eats anything she can get her little paws on, and we've tried all kinds of treats... dry treats, soft treats, pieces of chicken, a hunk of cheese, even a french fry as a last resort (she usually goes nuts when we're eating french fries), and she doesn't show any interest in any of them. She still eats her usual meals, but only after we leave the room. It doesn't work the same for the treats... I'll leave them in the room with her and come back in an hour and they'll still be there. Another change we've made is to stop trying to give her commands, look directly at her, talk to her, etc.

The only change we've seen (in the past three days) is that she isn't growling as much, and she pees more at a time each time (instead of just a dribble it's now bigger puddles). She still pees whenever we talk to each other within earshot of her, open the fridge, cough, basically anything that isn't us standing or sitting still. We watch her through the blinds (so she can't see us staring at her) very closely whenever she goes outside and have realized she doesn't pee outside at all anymore. It's not that she doesn't have to... she could spend a half hour outside, be let back in, and then one of us will cough or something and she'll immediately pee. When she's peed as much as she can, but something happens that would normally trigger her to pee, she still crouches like she's going to pee and it looks like she's straining to try and go... that is, her muscles move in the same way they do when she goes to the bathroom normally, but a lot more exaggerated. At first I thought this was strange, like why would she actively be trying to pee? But then I thought back to what I've read about submissive urination, and how dogs do it to show they are not a threat, and that maybe she thinks if she doesn't actually pee, that she hasn't communicated her message? Does this make sense? I'm just trying desperately to understand what's going on in my little Burley's head right now...

As always I would really appreciate any advice or suggestions that anyone has given this update... My husband and I are very grateful for all time you all have taken to reply, and the help that you've all given us so far.
 

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... When she's peed as much as she can, but something happens that would normally trigger her to pee, she still crouches like she's going to pee and it looks like she's straining to try and go... that is, her muscles move in the same way they do when she goes to the bathroom normally, but a lot more exaggerated. At first I thought this was strange, like why would she actively be trying to pee? But then I thought back to what I've read about submissive urination, and how dogs do it to show they are not a threat, and that maybe she thinks if she doesn't actually pee, that she hasn't communicated her message? Does this make sense? I'm just trying desperately to understand what's going on in my little Burley's head right now...
...
Have you taken her to the vet yet, that doesn't sound like 'submissive peeing' to me at all. I think you really need her to get a full vet check, including neurological issues.
 

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Don't forget a urinalysis. Poor dog - she sounds like she is in abject terror all the time. I doubt that a urinary tract infection would cause all this. After seeing your regular vet and getting a urinarlysis to check for infection, I would consult a veterinary behaviorist to get the best advice on what is wrong and what to do. If my dog were that scared, I'd get him on medication to make his life more comfortable. Actually, on further thought if she's been spayed recently I'm wondering if she could have had some damage to her urinary tract during the procedure and has a partial obstruction. Perhaps her strange behavior is from pain.
 

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Have you taken her to the vet yet, that doesn't sound like 'submissive peeing' to me at all. I think you really need her to get a full vet check, including neurological issues.
As I stated in my original post, we've been to the vet three separate times about this issue. We had all the standard blood tests done; all came back within normal range. We've also ruled out a UTI or other infections. In our last visit we were told it was a behavioral issue and directed to literature on both submissive peeing and housebreaking. Could a neurological issue just pop up overnight like that? Is there some kind of test or evaluation that we can specifically ask for at our next vet visit that could help us get to the bottom of this? I just don't want to come in and be like "I don't trust your prognosis, try again" without any sort of suggestion as to what we'd like for her to try.
 

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Has your vet considered damage from the spay? What could happen (not saying it has) is that scar tissue is forming from the spay and when it got to a certain point it caused trouble with urination and even pain (causing the behavior issues). It could seem like it just happened overnight. Not in any way saying that this IS the problem, but something you could ask about.
 
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