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A week of regression and behavior as she hits 6 months.

742 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  JasMom
I figured since last time y'all were so helpful about her diarrhea issue (we were diarrhea free until this morning, she had tons this AM but I do know why [it was the fact she got into flowers]) you might help me understand what to do for sudden behavior regression.

We had gotten down to 2-3 accidents a week in the house and they were always my fault.

She had gotten outside the fence twice (both times someone who came by left the gate open) and come back with a high value recall.

She never barked at the cats unless it was 1-2 quick barks with a bow to try to initiate play.

She used her crate willingly and never barked in it--she would need a high value treat to want to stay inside some nights, but that was easy to oblige.

She could go in the backyard whenever she wanted because she would never bark nor dig anywhere but her designated dig area (a 12x15 or so area under the deck with just soft soil and nothing else).

And then this week happened.

It started out innocently enough: the gardener came by. She's never barked at him before (when I say this I mean yes, she'd give a 2-3 chirping almost alert bark but then calm down with reassurance in the past, and even slept through it), and tolerated his lawn mowing before. On Monday, though, the lawn mower was her arch-nemesis and it was out to kill her and everything she loved. I took her out on a leash, she wouldn't stop barking. After a minute, I realized the futility, and brought her back in. She stopped barking about a minute after inside where I distracted her with everything known to man and she finally settled on chewing a plush toy.

But then she started barking at the neighbors from the deck glass door. They have an old Japanese spitz, and they love to tie him to their front door when they clean their rugs. She has barked at him before, but again, calmed down instantly. She does NOT bark at dogs on her walks ever (and did not this week). I think she's frustrated by how he's so close (our property line is like 12ish feet) but so far at the same time since there's a fence. OK, I think. No big deal. She's literally freaking out at the door, so I leash her up and go out on the deck. She barks more, but seems to be getting less conviction. I distract her and she'll focus on me with the command, stop barking, then suddenly flip her head and bark again. The neighbor waves at her and she stops barking. I'm able to unleash her, she and I play on the deck while the little dog is tied out and the neighbor's gardening--cool, she's done doing her cute lil Cujo impersonation, and it almost seems normal.

But the second we get back in, the barking comes back. She doesn't seem afraid, and if I try to get her to quiet, she will bounce away like she's playing (I don't ever grab her, so it's like me just saying it and looking at it causes her to run). I'm wondering if this is the dreaded demand barking, i.e. mom I need to go back outside and I will be insufferable until I can. I get her to quiet. She begins again every few minutes. She quiets if I say quiet but not after another lil sprint and bark sesh. Her dog walker comes, she gets an amazing walk. She bounds back in and begins barking again. Finally I let her out, thinking maybe there's something I can't see that's disturbing her. Nope, barking stops. She's quiet out there for the first five minutes, sniffing and doing her thing. In the past she'd have 10-15 minute yard sessions alone and come on the deck when done, we'd play a bit of fetch, and she'd come back in.

This time, though, she doesn't want to come in. And then she begins to bark at the fence in the back yard. No one is there. She comes if I call her, but knowing I want her to go inside, she runs back to the fence and barks again. I use the high value recall, she comes inside and sits daintily, and gets her reward because I don't want to burn the command. She goes to sleep. She gets another amazing walk. She comes back and seems fine. I take her in the yard and we play fetch for 30 minutes. She gets so tired she can barely move so she retires to her unlocked crate for her usual ~1 hour nap. From her crate though any sound makes her bark which has never happened before so she's getting up every 5 minutes, barking, then back down. I live in a quiet neighborhood but I have 2 cats, so I mean, even them just jumping on a counter = ARF.

Then later that evening the crate is her new nemesis, the bedroom closed crate. Luckily she doesn't bark at it, but she won't go in. She always goes in and settles almost instantly, there've been a few days with about 30-60 second grumbles but they were months ago. And as a puppy, she DID hate it, but she got over it after the initial month or progression. I don't want to force her in, so I try to wait her out. I take her outside. She doesn't pee or poop. I take her outside again. She doesn't pee or poop, but she does start barking (which again she's done under like a handful of times prior to this week) at the fence. I take her back in. Finally I let her outside without me, she doesn't bark, but finally does eliminate under the deck as well as have a dig session. She doesn't want to go in the crate, she grumbles at me as she does, but she does pad in there and I give her a little chicken piece and she falls asleep almost instantly.

Now, I'm writing this way to be entertaining but. The rest of the week is almost identical, except on Thursday I have to remove the bells to the deck because she begins to bang them loudly instead of barking because she discovers when she stops barking from my quiet command, she can go bang the bells after and it's just as jarring. I'm genuinely scared she'll break the glass. By this time too, I'm in a lot of pain (Ovarian cyst yay) and also just really in pain from so much more movement for her to stop the barking any time she's in the backyard (it's about 15 times a day now, and I do manage to always get to her before 20+ sec of barking occurs, but it's so much added walking and I'm disabled).

She's eating normally. It just seems like overnight she got afraid of everything, but with the dog walker on walks she's happy and fine. She's also happy with my housekeeper and my friend. And she met the gardener again on Thursday and was actually super happy around him as long as he didn't have The Lawnmower. But it seems like for whatever reason, nighttime potty as well as afternoon and morning existing = bark session. Cats making noise = bark session. Me adjusting in bed when she's in her crate = bark session.

She also has peed inside a lot more this week, sometimes coming in from a bark sesh just to squat and pee on the floor. I enzyme cleaner it, but she never did it this brazenly before. I'm assuming she's stimulated and forgets to pee so she does it the second she relaxes inside.

Oh, and to make it weirder, this morning she's fine EXCEPT she dug for the first time ever in the grass yard. I stopped it as it started, but she's never done this. I was so weirded out. I was able to let her out twice, zero barking, and she's about to go to the groomer plus on a walk. But she was not fine last night, she actually woke me up barking in her crate and I got scared it was tummy issues so I took her out but it was not. She just began running around and playing. I got her to go back in without too much of a fuss after 30 minutes of playing with her, but I decided to take her out after an hour and let her sleep on the bed with me--just since she went back in and wasn't fussing, I felt maybe I could try crateless to see even though she's not 100% housebroken--and I woke up to 2 puddles of pee and diarrhea as well as a destroyed set of roses from the bathroom counter. So she's definitely not able to be uncrated yet, as it keeps her routine and stops accidents.

For some more info:
  • She gets about 3.5-4.5 hours of her attention a day, i.e. just her.
    • 2 daily walks from the dog walker whom she loves (the dog walker also socializes her for me, she met a new terrier pal this week she loved). One is AM and one is PM. The dog walker is great and takes her on sniff adventures as well as draining walks (like stairs to a library), she gets to go to the beach and parks constantly.
    • One mini walk with me (driveway to mailbox, pr back alley sniff walk, as I'm disabled) or we play in the yard for the same time it would take if I'm in too much pain (~20 minutes)
    • A 30 minute after work play session where I bring out tons of different toys each day, let her pick, and we have a lot of fun
    • Her morning routine is outside to pee, then some flirt pole, then some fetching a ball indoors as I check emails (~20-30 min)
    • Night time run it out wind down (~15-30 minutes in the yard with fetch or if she's not playful I just sit out with her and watch her sniff the yard or watch her dig under the deck
    • I make a point of 60 minutes throughout the day to train her in 5 minute bursts, or 10 minute fetch sessions, and I put them in my schedule since I WFM a very demanding job
  • We also do other bonding things like:
    • An afternoon snack sesh where I hide food around or create a food puzzle
    • Yummy worms, which is a little crinkle bag with a high value treat. She can't always open it, and she's learned the "can I help" command means bring it and I'll open it, so I always do that if it gets frustrating.
    • Go find it: easy play sesh I do that I don't count in the others, where I just stick her fav toys in areas in the house and she goes and brings them to me for a piece of freeze dried chicken.
    • Snuffle mat at least once a week.
    • Toppl outside with her kibble...this week it could not be done, she was just barking after throwing the Toppl.
    • Chew together: she loves me holding her as I work while she chews her turkey tendon chew or cow ear. I do it for at least 10 minutes before I put her down.
I can definitely get a trainer--I'm just really puzzled. Is this adolescence? Is this going to be too much for me? Any tips for how to teach her to love her crate again, or stop barking? This week was the roughest week I've had with her, and we were at the best weeks ever before that. :(

One thing to note is I have been in AWFUL pain all week, more than usual, so she could be reading my mood which is crummy. But I have been trying to mask it from her, and our routine did not deviate much except for Friday and today (Saturday) where the pain was so bad I got up around 3AM (and I let her out of the crate on Thurs, and today I did not crate her).
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So after all this, in the magic of this forum where if you complain apparently the poodle mind reads AND somehow improves, we had a really good past 3 days.

Also, right after I posted--literally that Saturday--I figured out what had caused the sudden yard barking (like it was so bad that even on a leash she'd just bark at the door before we went out) that was really causing me anxiety.


The dog walker mentioned how she's fixated on the sudden wave of bunnies when I brought this up. And I was like "oh, wait, bunnies" and folks, well, I moved here last year. I knew this area had bunnies. But I saw none this year, literally none, and somehow it didn't click to me that bunnies were lurking around and it's their mating season and yeah. After she brought it up, I started to really just calmly watch when Michi fussed about all of Sat/Sun, and low and behold... it's always a bunny in a really weird Where's Waldo spot. I would actually take a photo of the area when she was barking and look later and see a bunny about 15 feet away in a neighbor's lawn which probably was why she flipped out. She must be smelling them or hearing them. They blend in really well to the ground and don't really move, unlike squirrels which dart and make clear paths, which makes me seeing them pretty hard when it's dark out or when I'm not thinking to look hard.

As for people, she does like to bark at them now, when before she didn't, but it's like 90% bunny and 10% people. And she's getting better with the bunnies: she was on a walk in driveway Monday and we saw one and I let her just watch it for like 5 minutes while giving her some kibble treats. It just kept eating right on our front lawn, she was enraptured, and didn't make a peep.

I also had 2 handymen today (plus the gardener was back), so she got to deal with them walking into her space, and while she did bark--I got her to come to me, fed her treats, and then she ended up just lying down and watching them for the 6+ hours they were here. So I think she's actually calming down a bit this week.

I doubt it's fixed, but at least now I know what was causing the total meltdowns. There was a new influx of animals suddenly around her and she couldn't get to most of them (a few came in the yard, but most are just walking the fence line). It would make sense, they probably just got going the past week or so due to Spring.

As for the activity levels: I'll try to vary it more and see how she is. It's hard, I may have guilt of just myself being disabled and not active enough, so I want to make sure my poodle doesn't feel like she doesn't get enough--and she always wants to play, I need to just remember she doesn't necessarily need more if she's had a good amount.

For example, tonight we didn't do any play activities since all day she had a lot of people watching due to handymen in the house and she already tucked herself into her crate--like she chose this one, no crate wars tonight, so you could be onto something. (She still got her 2 walks and she got a lot of training in due to the handymen being around.)

Anyway it was very cool, as today she and I got to sit outside for 30 minutes--I was like 10 feet away at all times, just using my laptop, and she just puttered around. Eventually she grabbed her bone from the bedroom and came out with it and joined me for a chew. I feel like last week, she would've barked at the fence and I would've had to go back in within 5 minutes because I couldn't really do anything for work.
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