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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9692
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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My little dog, she does the strangest things. Maggie is 18

Customer Question

My little dog, she does the strangest things. Maggie is 18 months old, chihuahua. I have had her since she was 6 weeks old. I've always have a chihuahua, one at a time, over the last 35+ years. I know what chihuahuas are like.
Here are weird stories-
Every day since I brought her home, I feed her in the same bowl, on the same mat, in same place, at the same times (twice a day), the same food, same people around and yet, everytime Maggie will slowly, back and forth, almost unsure, up to the bowl. No one has ever played with her with her bowls, ever. There are no children here.
Stairs are just terrifying to her. Up or down.
licking? omg is awful. Even when i tap her and say uh-uh, she keeps licking me like she never heard me or she goes licking my feet while I am walking. I've put hot sauce on my feet, that stops her for one night.
Maggie is one the most "loving" dog I ever had. She just radiates it. Very playful and mostly happy. Her eyes just sparkle. She's my "Black eyes beauty"
Until Maggie is familiar with anything, she is so like fearful. There is no reason for her to even know fear.
I had Maggie in for her puppy care. My vet says all is good.
Last night, I had a light bulb go on over my head.
Can Maggie have trouble seeing? it makes sense in a way...
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The more I think about it, Maggie appears to have trouble seeing. Her reaction to things she is not familiar with, is a afraid, shy, timid dog. Once Maggie been there, she is bubbly, happy, confidant self again. Maggie gets like a panic state till she is sure. Her food dish, every day, is uncertainity of going up the dish. She is not a rescue dog or been abuse (screaming or hitting). My question is "Can dogs have bad eye sight?"
I've search internet, yes, there is dog goggles. Nothing on helping a dog with bad vision (more of a fashion statement). Her fearfulness bothers me, like I said earlier, she should not be fearful of anything. Her eyes are clear, no tears, and she's young. Her eyes glitters very darkly when she is happy.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome. This is just a short note to introduce myself or to request needed information for your problem. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
Yes dogs can have sight problems especially as they age that will cause them to become more cautious. Cataracts and corneal dystrophy are two that are seen in this breed.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
Dogs like humans are born with personalities so even though she has never been abused she can still have a fearful personality which develops over time and depending on how the owner handles the times the dog goes through fear imprints can be a determination as to how bad the fear progresses over life.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
another possibility given her age would be canine cognitive dysfunction, similar to dementia in humans,
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Maggie is only 18 months old.
Her eyes are very clear.
What do I need to do next? How can I help her? I want a happy, joyful, confident Maggie. When she is fearful or crying, I don't cuddle her when she does it, I check her and she is fine. We been in training together all year (we love it! the bonding is priceless), I take her with me everywhere (only time Maggie is home is when I am working). I want her to trust me.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
I am sorry , I thought she was 18 years old! May you have her that long as it sounds like you are doing well with her and enjoying her. Where did you get her from? that may explain things.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oh I do hope to have her 18 years!
Maggie was a gift (Cricket, my baby before Mags, has just passed away. I was and still am, so heartbroken). My family, thought if I got a new dog, I would be happy again. My cousin's neighbor dog, just had a litter, and I was to come, get the pick of the litter. I am no expert, but I do know to look for some basic things. While we were walking across to the puppies, knowing the my high standards I expect from a dog and the much needed connection with the puppy, I told my family, do not expect me to get a puppy. Cricket was small (2lbs) and I knew I wanted a female, 5-6 lbs. See? I already had ideas what I wanted. When I get to the yard, alarms were already going off in my head. Not good alarms either. The backyard was full of chihuahuas of all ages. Maybe 8, all females, all ages. Already, I am thinking "nope. I will not get a puppy from here. fearing backyard breeders usually have inbred dogs." Then I met Maggie. OMG! she was and still is, adorable little (yep, small! 3lbs) sweetheart. I had to wait another 2 weeks before I picked her up. I could not stand myself waiting! She has almost all my expectations (strong, bright/clear eyes, happy, applehead, etc). Took her to the vet )he asked me "do i look for the smallest dogs possible?" LOL) He gave me the all thumbs up, saying she appears to be very healthy. All is good.
Right of the bat, Maggie did that weaving up to the food dish, I thought was unusual and funny at first. Just a quirk she has. Since then, the weaving and other things, has me alarmed. I would say Maggie is getting more panicy like as time goes on. In training classes, she is strong, confident, pleasant, loves the other dogs. Then at times, when it is just her and I, she is fearful, brain farts what she learned, for no reason. A different dog.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for that information. Your alarm bells were right. That being said , hearing your love for her makes me believe that she was the lucky one, as no matter what she goes through in life you will never let her down:)I suspect her eating habits came from puppy mill traits where food was tossed on the ground and no one ate out of a plate. I would suspect she was let go from the litter too soon to learn strength and confidence and that there was not a lot of human contact , but most contact came from other dogs. This breeding explains a lot of what you are seeing in personality. However dogs can over come a lot in life.I might try putting the food on the floor or a small paper plate and see if she does better.It would also explain the shyness and you are doing it right by not coddling her , but lets try boosting her confidence through training positively. So the next time she acts frightened take her mind off of it and ask her to perform a simple command then praise and reward her for doing that. This way you are accentuating the positive which can help with confidence.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
You don't think it is bad eye sight?
I have had her longer than her being in that back yard, she is not fighting to get to her food. Her struggling in new surroundings is dumbfound to me. When it is just her and I, she seems more fearful of me. Again, dumbfounds me.
I do agree with you on her being taking too soon from her mother and siblings. The way Maggie almost irrates the other dogs sometimes.
I have had wonderful girls in my past, but Maggie is the first one, that has the "loving" feel to. My girls before, they adored me (as I did to them) and totally trust me (Maggie does not). When we snuggle down for the night, the way Maggie takes that last deep breath (after done licking me) is so powerful. It is so loving. Maggie is not a cold chihuahua, she sleeps uncovered. A first for me!
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
I think in order to be sure it is not an eye problem then you have to see an optimologist for dogs, they will be able to give a thorough eye exam.Behavior wise, it is likely her upbringing and will take time to come around with you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am kinda puzzled here...
I do think she was giving to me too young, I am thinking isn't it me and here that is all she knows? Didn't I get her before she got to know panic/fear?
maybe her eyes are ok, it is her behavior
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
No , dogs go through imprints from neonatal to age four years and one of these imprints is fear and it comes a couple of times during that time period , it is what the owner does that will help the dog through it or make them more fearful for life. Also dogs are born with personalities just as people are and some are shy and will always be shy.Without doing a temperament test on the dog I would not know what her full personality is, but I suspect you got a fearful dog.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i hope not.
I never want a dog to coward from me. I can't still that. (the submissive peeing) which Maggie does not do, seems like she could thou. What should I do to keep it happening?
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
that would be considered a separate question in dog training that the company would want you to open a new question for.