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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19188
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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Why does my Chihuahua always get spooked and what can I do

Customer Question

Why does my Chihuahua always get spooked and what can I do to help get her unspooked
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's been awhile since I asked my question why so long getting back. I need help
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Help via Email or Text Message. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. Apparently your question went to vet only category instead of dog training and behavior. Just answer just switched this to the correct category so now qualified behaviorists can respond.

In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.

Can you describe what behavior she is exhibiting and what it is that causes her to act like that?

What do you do when she acts like this?

Have you tried anything to correct the situation?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When she seems spooked she is almost in a paranoid state. She will duck and hide and sit with her head going left to right like she is watching everything around her. Sometimes I wrap her in a blanket and cuddle her close to me and it seems to slow her down a bit but doesn't totally stop it.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Customer,

Can you tell me what things seem to spook her. That may help me decide on the best way to help her over it. Many small dogs are very wary of quite a few things due to their small size. They know that a misstep from a human or child can break a foot or seriously injury them. As a result they do watch what is going on around them to help avoid situations like that. So as a breed they do tend to be watchful.

Chihuahuas are also prone to back problems so you must take care to lift them properly. The proper way to lift a small dog is to put one hand on the chest between the front legs and scoop the rear legs into the other hand and lift up. This keeps the weight of the dog off the spine.

Now chihuahuas are also prone to low blood sugar which can lead to seizure behavior. Seizures can range from a repetitive behavior such as snapping at invisible flies, a trembling or collapse. So make sure you are feeding her several times a day being sure she has a small meal right before going to bed so her blood sugar doesn't drop too low overnight.

Now you can help a chihuahua gain self confidence trough obedience training and socialization. Obedience training teaches them what you expect and other humans expect when a command is given. When they know hwat is expected, they become more confident. The more training they have, the more confident they usually are. Taking her around various people also helps them gain self confidence as long as you do not let people lean over therm. Have people crouch down in front of her and let her come to them IF she wants to. Don't force her to let someone pet her. If you watch out for her and keep strangers at a distance until she chooses to let them pet her, she will trust you to protect her and gain more self confidence that way as well. You can give people small treats to give her so she will associate them with the people and be more outgoing and confident.

If you can give me specific instances of the circumstances when she displays the behavior, I will see if there are other things that I can suggest as well.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well for instance with the thunder she will get spooked but most dogs do. But most of the time I can not pin point what has caused it.I usually try to backtrack her day or recent hours to come to some type of conclusion. Also, she is a very picky eater and she will only eat like twice a day. When she seems spooked she acts like her mouth is very dry and has a hard time swallowing. But during her episode she will not drink or eat , nothing..
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Noise phobias are common, but you can combat those as well. Let me give you some preprinted instructions for noise phobias that I have written up. After that I'll talk about her appetite and mouth behavior.

Noise Phobia

Noise phobias and anxiety is really a common problem. Many dogs have reactions to different noises. This is really a problem around the 4th of July and fireworks. For things like thunderstorms, some people tape the noise and play it back at lower volumes while playing with the dog and providing positive reinforcement for the dog's lack of anxiety while the noise is played at low volumes. Positive reinforcement would include calm praise and hot dog slices or other tasty treat (not regular treats. You then gradually increase the volume slowly until your dog is desensitized to the noise. Your vet could prescribe a medication called Acepromazine, which is a tranquilizer. You can read about this here:

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/acepromazine-promace-aceproject/page1.aspx

Another prescription drug would be Xanax but I have to caution you not to give any prescription drug to your dog without consulting your vet first.

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/alprazolam-xanax/page1.aspx

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Many people get Rescue Remedy to help with noise phobias. Be sure you get the kind that does NOT contain Xylitol. You can read about this here:

http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/rescue_remedy.htm

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It may also be available in your local pet store as well. Benadryl is often used as it does tend to calm your dog. Benadryl can be given to your dog, the dose is up to 2mg per pound every 8 hours. Benadryl in not a sedative though so it won't put your dog to sleep. Leaving a TV playing loud also helps prevent your dog from hearing the outside noises. Another treatment is Melatonin which you can read about here. It has been shown to work well for noise phobias.

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/melatonin-melatonex/page1.aspx

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DAP collars might help a bit as well. They produce pheromones that mimic the ones produced by a nursing mom to calm her pups. It has proven to be helpful with this problem but was used in conjunction with desensitization so it is unknown if the collar or the training was the major factor in resolving the problem.

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Her behavior concerning her mouth like excessive swallowing, lip smacking, etc is a sign of nausea which is often associated with anxiety and if she has nausea, she won't want to eat or drink. Often anxiety triggers an increase in bile in the stomach so pepcid might help reduce that behavior. You can give your dog some pepcid at .25 -.5 mg per pound every 12-14 hours.. Read about dosages and usage information here:

http://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/library/over-the-counter/famotidine-pepcid

When she starts the behavior, ignore it as much as you can. If you know a storm is coming, crate her and muffle the noises with heavy blankets over the crate. This may help her be less anxious until you can complete desensitize training. You can also give her a special treat when she is crated like a peanut butter or yogurt filled Kong that you have frozen. She'll be busy getting the treat out of the kong and ignoring the noise especially if you muffle it.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Jane Lefler

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