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View Full Version : New here, but one of my 2 cavs is acting strange.



sophiaandgrace
30th April 2007, 01:39 PM
Hello everyone,

I'm new to the forum as I just discovered it yesterday searching for what might be wrong with Gracie - our 2 year old tricolor. We also have a 11 month old Ruby by the name of Sophia.

We got Grace from a less than desirable breeder...she was the last of the litter and the obvious runt of the litter. Since then she's thrived with us...always had a great attitude and as you all know a great snuggler like all Cavs. When we got Sophia last summer, the two became like two peas in a pod.....never left each others side, played all day long.

Lately, Grace has become VERY docile like she's completely terrified by something in the house. She goes to my wife's closet, which is the most remote part of the house and will sit there for hours upon hours....she doesn't want to be by the family and has only been going out to pee when we make her. Also not eating much and just generally not being herself - there are no signs of anything hurting on her or that she is in pain.....she just seems like she's dejected and in the dumps.

Some background info as well. We just installled invisible fencing in our yard....has worked great but could she be scared of this?

Neither Sophie or Grace are fixed and they just spent a week at the beginning of the month in doggie day care. Could this be pre-behavior of a pregnancy? They are supposed to keep the dogs seperate, but I know there were plenty of other cavs at the day care. Is this behavior common in pregnant cavs?

Thanks for any help anyone can give.

enchantingdragon
30th April 2007, 02:34 PM
Im sorry I have no advice for you. That does seem a bit strange if you ask me. Is she eating normally? With all these recalls thats the first thing I would look at.

I do have a question if you didnt mind but why aren't either of them fixed? Are you planning on showing or breeding them? If not I would get them spayed as why would you want to deal with the mess of their seasons and the constant worry about pregnancy as well as male dogs hounding them whenever they are in season?

casshon
30th April 2007, 03:03 PM
I would definitely bring Grace to the vet.

Honey had pyometra (an infection of the womb) at quite a young age and she was very mopey and just not herself. We then noticed she had a discharge and brought her straight to the vet. She had to have an emergency hysterectomy.

I hope Grace will be OK.

AT
30th April 2007, 03:03 PM
If she's got a shock from the invisible fencing & she wss normal before you intalled it she's probably scared of going outside & getting zapped again. they have long memories & one bad experience can put them off for a long time

Karlin
30th April 2007, 03:06 PM
I'm sorry to hear about Gracie. There are a couple of points for consideration here and they are directly related.

First off, I would strongly advise against using invisible fencing. Many breeders, and all rescues that I know of as well as organisations like the Humane Society and SPCA, would oppose electronic fencing as inhumane. It is also useless at protecting your dogs from thieves and other dogs, and dogs regularly will run right thru electronic fencing if they really want to chase something (we regularly get dogs wearing such collars in the pound). They can also cause training problems and behaviour problems as many trainers will verify. They also sometimes malfunction causing severe burns (down to the bone) to dogs on their neck and have been the subject of lawsuits.

The latter is particularly important because probably over half of all cavaliers have a condition called called syringomyelia in which fluid pockets form in the spine, mostly in the neck and shoulder area, and press on nerve endings causing neurological symptoms -- primarily, pain. When they have this condition it is because their brain is too big for their skull and has been forced through the opening into the spine. To be shocking a dog that has syrinxes and part of its brain exposed in the spine, is risking inflicting severe pain.

Regarding Gracie in particular -- given her behaviour, she does urgently need to see a vet so that should be your first stop as only a vet can tell you what is actually going on. Dogs hide pain very well too, especially neurological pain. The fact that she isn't eating, is hiding in the dark and avoiding people, and has to be made to go outside are all seriously worrying and indicative of some sort of illness and most likely, pain. This kind of behaviour could definitely be related to wearing the electronic collar and the 'training' -- which involves shocking the dog at increasingly higher levels of power until they are too terrified to cross the invisible fence line (try putting on the collar yourself, turn it to the highest setting (as this will be the equivalent, on your body size, to what your dogs feel) then walk across the boundary -- this will at least give you a sense of whether you feel this is appropriate for your dogs and whether you wish to continue using it.

I am going to also steer you to my Syringomyelia website because some of the behaviour your are describing fits what many owners of cavaliers with SM see:

www.smcavalier.com

Read through the symptoms list in particular and you can see if anything else sounds suspicious. There are documents you can print out and take to your vet when you go in. If the vet cannot find any other reason for her behaviour (there could of course be other reasons) s/he will want to refer you to a vet neurologist to consider whether SM is a possibility. If Gracie has SM and went though the training of shocks to her neck she could be very traumatised as a result and that could definitely be why she is behaving as she is. But you need to investigate all possibilities and only seeing a vet will enable you to do that. :thmbsup:.

Also: I'd strongly recommend getting them fixed -- if they remain unspayed, they have a 1 in 4 chance of mammary cancer over their lifetime and an ongoing high risk of pyometra, which is often fatal. This is why vets highly recommend spaying bitches.

Cathy Moon
30th April 2007, 05:53 PM
I would definitely take her to the vet to find out what's wrong - sounds like she's in pain.

Is there a reason why they are not spayed? The invisible fence doesn't offer your cavs any protection - I would be VERY concerned that another dog could get to them. If she got pregnant from a larger dog, it would be life threatening. Same goes for the daycare..

moniechris
30th April 2007, 06:37 PM
First of all, I would like to say Welcome to the board!!! :D :D I am sorry it isn't under happier circumstances though :(

At two years old, it is a great possibility that she could be exposed to a male curing her most recent cycle, especially if you have an invisible fence. She may not run out of the yard, but nothing keeps the other dogs from getting to her. That is very risky.

When was her last heat? Did she go to day care during that time? That big change in behavior would be enough for me to worry so I would take her in to the vet to have her checked out, whether it be for pregnancy or something else.

Good Luck and keep us posted!!!

Lucy's mum
30th April 2007, 09:44 PM
I've not heard of an invisible fence before so please excuse my ignorance.

Does it work by giving a shock whenever approached? Is the only way a dog can work out its boundaries by getting a series of shocks at different points? I think if I were a dog I would eventually go and hide away and be scared to come out anywhere.

Is there no way you can install proper visible fencing? Her behaviour seems totally logical as a response to a frightening experience. I am trying to think from the perspective of my two young dogs who are 10 months and 14 months - I think they would be grossly affected by a similar fence. I am nearly in tears thinking about it.

Moviedust
1st May 2007, 12:44 AM
I've not heard of an invisible fence before so please excuse my ignorance.

Does it work by giving a shock whenever approached? Is the only way a dog can work out its boundaries by getting a series of shocks at different points? I think if I were a dog I would eventually go and hide away and be scared to come out anywhere.


Invisible fencing is a system of wires that are buried in the ground. The dog wears a receiver on its collar. When the dog crosses the wire in the ground, the dog receives a shock to the neck from the receiver. The theory is that the dogs learn (by being shocked) where the boundary is and then stay within the yard.

Some systems are cheaper than actually installing a fence and in some instances people are not allowed to build a fence due to city ordinances or housing community rules.

Some of the drawbacks with this type of fencing have already been discussed:
--punishment training through pain
--no security from outside predators (thieves, dog aggressive dogs, male dogs)
--not 100% guaranteed to keep your dog at home

Another issue with invisible fencing is that, should the dog cross the barrier in pursuit of something like a rabbit or squirrel (or a person walking by!), the dog is punished for trying to go home! The shock works anytime the dog crosses. So if the dog does leave temporarily, the dog learns to stay away from the yard to avoid another shock. :S

Moviedust
1st May 2007, 12:58 AM
Welcome to Cavalier Talk! You'll find that our community is friendly and always ready to talk about their cavaliers, in any capacity. If you've ever been told you're nuts b/c you care too much or talk too much about your dogs, this is the place for you!

I'm sorry to hear that your Grace is the reason you found us, but now that you're here I hope you explore and join in the fun.

You'll find that there are a number of different opinions on how to train and to treat pets, but any disagreements are often due to our strong love for our animals. I know that I've learned a great deal from these boards and the differences of opinions that are expressed. Those opinions often impact how I live with and interact not only my own dogs but how I communicate with other dog owners.

My advice for Gracie is to get her in to see a vet. Rule out any health concerns before looking into a behavioral issue. Given the health challenges our breed faces (see the health section; there's tons of info) health issues are always suspect. Taking the vet breed specific health information, as Karlin suggested above, is very helpful, as not all vets are up to date on the health issues of each and every breed. It saves time, and most vets are happy to talk with you about the information.

If the vet is not concerned about any health issues, then you will probably want to look at the behavior. You've already mentioned the possibility that the invisible fence is a problem. Despite the general concerns many on the board might have with this type of fencing, if you have a sensitive dog (which most cavaliers are!), the shock-training could definitely scare a cavalier into the closet. Try taking the shock receiver off and take Gracie out on a lead. Let her see that the yard is not painful any more. If after a day or so her behavior changes, the fence is probably the issue, and you can figure out a more accommodating way to keep Gracie in the yard.

BarbMazz
1st May 2007, 03:37 AM
I've not heard of an invisible fence before so please excuse my ignorance.

Does it work by giving a shock whenever approached? Is the only way a dog can work out its boundaries by getting a series of shocks at different points? I think if I were a dog I would eventually go and hide away and be scared to come out anywhere.

Is there no way you can install proper visible fencing? Her behaviour seems totally logical as a response to a frightening experience. I am trying to think from the perspective of my two young dogs who are 10 months and 14 months - I think they would be grossly affected by a similar fence. I am nearly in tears thinking about it.

Invisible fence training does not (in my experience) train the dog with a series of shocks. The receiver on the dog's collar emits a series of beeps when within 4ft of the wire. The dog is trained to turn back when the beeps are heard. There is a flag perimeter set up 4ft before the wire. The dog is trained to recognize that the flags mean "turn back". If they go past the flags, but still within the 4ft the collar will beep, which is the signal for the dog to turn back. If the dog does not turn back and gets to the wire there is a shock. My brand of fence has 10 levels, with 10 being the highest setting. None of my dogs has a setting higher than "4", and none have experienced a shock in almost a year, because they recognize the flags and the beep.

There are many opinions about invisible fencing; in my own personal experience it has been positive. My dogs were very easy to train, and they are not being shocked. Bentley, my tri Cavalier, does not wear a collar because I fear he may have SM. He is trained to the flags and doesn't pass them even without the collar.

I certainly don't want to start an argument, but this is my personal experience. While there are dogs who have problems with repeated shocks because they are not properly trained to the flags and beeps, my dogs are not experiencing that. Please don't berate me on my choice to use an electronic fence, because I already know the opinions of most here. I only wanted to share my experience because it is different than what has been described here. :flwr:

Moviedust
1st May 2007, 03:49 AM
Did you have to do anything special to train your dogs to respond to the sounds? If Gracie's issues are related to the fencing, perhaps you can give some training tips that will help her adjust without getting shocked (and scared into the closet!).

BarbMazz
1st May 2007, 03:55 AM
Did you have to do anything special to train your dogs to respond to the sounds? If Gracie's issues are related to the fencing, perhaps you can give some training tips that will help her adjust without getting shocked (and scared into the closet!).

I trained my dogs on leash with clickers and treats. When they reached the flags I let them take a step past so they heard the beep, then pulled them back quickly, as soon as they turned back I heaped on the praise, clicked and treated using very high value treats. It didn't take long at all. I did go all around the entire perimeter everyday for a couple of weeks before I actually let them off lead. My husband helped out by waving the flags so they would be noticed during the sessions.

Caraline
1st May 2007, 05:20 AM
Just a thought. Could the e-collar be malfunctioning? I don't mean shocking her, but sending off the warning sound at incorrect times?

Many years back when a neighbour shot 2 of my dogs, we got those invisible fences to run in conjunction with the regular fence. Wombats kept digging holes under our fence & on this one morning our dogs got out, one dead, the other thousands to fix her up & many painful operations.

What I found though was that the collars would occasionally send the warning sound at the wrong time and the poor dogs got terribly confused & upset. Needless to say the invisible fence got pulled down. In fact we moved from there. I couldn't live like that.

Anyway, just wondering???

Karlin
1st May 2007, 09:57 AM
Just to return to this from a broader perspective: to be honest, I do not think behaviour this extreme has much to do with an electric fence though if the dog was shocked it could have exacerbated an underlying problem. I think it is primarily a medical issue. These are behaviours that a dog shows when in pain and when ill -- if the dog was shocked (and some training systems train by increasing the level of shocks to train the dog to stay away) that might add to this problem but I only think this would be *because there is a serious underlying medical problem*.

That is why I think it is a very urgent matter to get a dog that
* does not want to be touched
* is hiding in the darkest, most enclosed space it can find
* is clearly fearful
* won't go out of its own accord to relieve itself though housetrained, and
* won't eat except reluctantly

in to see a vet immediately. Given the nature of this behavour, I would in particular want the vet to be familiar with SM and the high rate of incidence in the breed, so that if nothing else seems to explain the behaviour, the dog is referred to a neurologist.

In all the time I have been working with dogs and rescues, I have never heard of a dog being this fearful simply from something it experienced in the outside world except in the case of abused dogs that have been severely mistreated over a period of time. As this isn't an element here, and the dog has been fine up til now, and the electric fence does not seem to have been in place that long, and as all these behaviours are consistent with potentially serious health issues, I think this must be the first consideration and a matter of some urgency. :thmbsup:

sophiaandgrace
1st May 2007, 01:42 PM
Thanks everyone!!! Gracie is going to the vet today so i'll let you know what we find out.

Funny thing about the fence is, both the dogs have never been shocked....we trained just as a previous poster had mentioned to turn around at the sound of the beep - and as we all know, cavs are very smart, so it didn't take much training at all. As a matter of fact after a couple weeks, the fence isn't even on anymore.

Trust me, if the fence wasn't needed, we would not have it, but had too many close calls with Sophia and traffic that I would much rather put some work into training them, then burying them in the back yard.

Shay
1st May 2007, 02:38 PM
I hope Grace will be o.k. Please let us know the outcome.:xfngr:

Remali
1st May 2007, 02:45 PM
Hello and welcome to the forum! Sounds like you got a lot of very good advice already, I Hope Grace is OK. Please let us know how she is doing and what the vet thinks. I had a dog with pyometra, it was many, many years ago when I was only a teenager and didn't know how serious, and fatal, that a uterine infection in dogs can be, it affects unspayed female dogs. I hope Grace doesn't have that.

Oh gosh, I truly hope that the collar is not shocking her....not to criticize (I am not a fan of those underground fences), but I do think that is a bit too severe for small dogs like Cavaliers, especially given the possibilty of SM. I live by a busy road with a lot of traffic too, and my dogs only go outdoors with me and they are always on a leash. If I want them to run more, I take them out to my sister's place where it is safe for them to run. Hope Grace is doing better.

Moviedust
1st May 2007, 03:42 PM
Yes, please let us know what the vet says about Grace. :xfngr:

Moviedust
1st May 2007, 03:45 PM
I know this is getting off topic of Gracie's medical concerns, but I think a discussion about fencing could be important. Not only does it bring out differing perspectives, but someone considering an invisible fence might like to see what others think.

My question is: If you (both) trained your dogs without needing to be shocked, and in fact the invisible fence isn't even on any more and the dogs stay in the yard, why bother with an invisible fence that shocks in the first place?? Why not simply do the training on its own?

Holly
1st May 2007, 09:28 PM
Yes, please keep us updated. I hope your vet gets to the bottom of this and she is soon feeling better!