DogDaz Zoo: When They Tell You Your Dog Is Mentally Ill
I wrote the first part of this post in 2016 and never published it. When Sofie was a puppy (born November 2010), other than being a bit whiney and barky in her first few months, she seemed like every other puppy I ever had. Thinking back, maybe she was a bit more strong-willed than others. It was harder to get her to listen to commands, but I figured that was her Sheltie/herding dog lineage and a vet told me she just needed a flock of sheep, or pride of cats, to work with every day.
Being the pet Mom that I am, I did Clicker training; I tried positive reinforcement with treats; I hired private trainers (twice); I even trained with an e-collar (before I knew it was not a good thing to train with). And, for a long time, she was great off leash and listened when I requested her attention. The only thing that I have never been able to get under control was her barking. She has super sonic hearing and barks at the slightest breeze.
When I look back at the list of things that I worked on with the first trainer when Sofie was about 6 months old, I see that the list hasn’t changed much in 6 years. (1) Barking at everything; (2) whining; (3) chasing cats. I can say that I taught her many things: not to jump on people, and how to sit, stay, come, stop, down, paw, leave it, drop it, up (in the car or on a bed), ‘Don’t’ (‘No’ is Louise’s word, so I used ‘Don’t’ for Sofie, so they wouldn’t get confused), find me (it’s a game we play), and place. I am pretty sure that she understands ‘quiet,’ but that she just doesn’t obey the command when I say it.
I feel like a failure. I have had 6 dogs in my life, and I have never had a dog with as many issues as Sofie.
Thunder anxiety (always)
Separation anxiety (sometimes)
Hyper noise sensitivity (always)
General, everyday, life anxiety
Night terrors. Waking several times at night from sleep and starting to bark and go crazy as if something is attacking her.
Dislikes puppies and any dog that lick her face
Skin issues (mostly in warm weather)
Breathing issues (whizzing and asthma like)
How things manifest
Comfort sucking: She sucks on fabric, on the bed blankets, on toys (her favorites are catnip toys), even sometimes on my pants while I am wearing them. Sometimes she will ‘flank suck’ on herself, but that is rare.
She pants, a lot, no matter the weather
She barks at everything
She barks at dogs, people, trucks, anything passing the house, even if she can’t see them.
She barks at deliveries leaving a package at the any door (and of course my daughter buys everything online).
3 different Veternarians over the years have told me she suffers from some form of mental instablity. At the end of the day, what does that mean?
Fast forward to 2019 – to be continued…..
After 8 years, Sofie continues to be a challenge in a multi-animal household.