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> Light/shadow Obsession
Alps
post 1st Apr 2012, 8:16 pm
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Hi, we've had Harvey 13 month rescue Beagle cross for 3 days now and he is a fantastic dog. He's friendly, sociable, great off the lead (already!) and is doing fine with our resident GSD cross. The problem is he has rather odd behaviour when he's in the house. We had a lovely walk tonight, he's really responsive and his recall is great when we're out. The minute we get indoors he starts looking at shadows and lights. A sunny day is a nightmare with all the reflections. Sometimes he barks at them, sometimes he just sits and stares but this carries on for hours and we struggle to take his attention away from it.

I would love to know if anyone has any experience on how to break his obsession, it's as if he is under a spell the minute we enter the house. He's a beautiful dog and we want to help him. sad.gif
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muttlover2
post 1st Apr 2012, 9:03 pm
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I have a dog who loves lights and shadows - thankfully in our case although it is something he loves and is a wee bit OTT about but he is not in the worrying category of obsessive about it that I know some dogs are. However, I did see a programme with Victoria Stillwell and a setter or pointer (I think) who had this problem and had become obsessed with reflections in a way that was difficult to cope with. She seemed to make enormous progress in breaking the obsession and I think more mental stimulation and exercise was also part of that - although obviously habits can be hard to break. I'd recommend trying to see if you can find the programme. I know at least one other on here has had this problem in a serious way and I hope they can come along and give advice.
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muttlover2
post 1st Apr 2012, 9:05 pm
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PS 3 days is really a short time and in the case of my dog he was very anxious when we got him which I think made certain behaviours more extreme too. Do you know anything about his background? Do you know if he was rather understimulated or anything in his last home?
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Alps
post 2nd Apr 2012, 8:49 am
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Thanks for that - I know it's not been long but I figured if we could start doing the right thing straight away it would give him a head start smile.gif

This morning has been good - it's raining so there aren't many shadows and if we keep the lights off he's much better. Now just need to find a way to stop him walking and walking round the house. He's finding it quite hard to settle during the day yet at night he's out cold for 8 hours and we don't hear a peep out of him. He's already had a good hours walk and we're off out for another 2 hours soon.

I will have a look and see if I can find the Victoria Stillwell episode, it would be great to see how she handled it.
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Athel
post 2nd Apr 2012, 9:00 am
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I have an obsessive tail chaser. We got her at 5 months and she was spending about 12 hours a day spinning (she had stripped her tail of fur and it was sore and infected). She had been through a number of homes and left her litter at 4 weeks. We have had her 15 months and have reduced her spinning to a few short episodes a few times a day that we can mostly bring her back from.

We had a behaviouist see her the second week we had her and were advised to break the behaviour calmly - she wore a house line for the first couple of months so we could move her away from her spinning places (she goes to corners or other slightly enclosed spaces). We also tethered her so she couldn't spin and now clipping a lead on her even if it isn't tied to anything is often enough to ground her. She also had rescue remedy, DAP and zylkene. Rawhide was a big help as chewing is a good calming action.

Routine is important to her. She needs to run, if she hasn't had a good run on time the spinning increases. Training and using her brain reduce the spinning too - she never spins after training class. As we got to know her better we could identify triggers and manage her better. Although not 100% a settle command has been very useful.

3 days is still a very short time to have been with you. I think it's great if you can minimise triggers. Is Harvey crate trained? Can you set up a crate with a blanket so it's dark in there? I'd also be looking for a good distraction. Is there a certain toy/game you can use? Or teaching a watch me command or asking for another behaviour.
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muttlover2
post 2nd Apr 2012, 9:01 am
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Also maybe post query in Chatter too because I know there were people there before who had had this problem. It could be they might miss it in Training although this is the obvious place to ask the expeerts.
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Alps
post 2nd Apr 2012, 1:25 pm
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We're having such a lovely day today because the sun isn't out! He's being as good as gold, taking notice of us and sitting down or playing nicely inbetween walks. I can't believe the difference the sun makes. Maybe all he needs is more time and reassurance.

I had considered a crate for when I leave him as he is a door opener and scratcher plus I want him to feel secure. It would also allow me to leave him in the same room as our other dog for company without the fear of any play fighting turning bad. I haven't left him at all yet but am dreading it a bit as he barks loads if I shut him in the kitchen and go to a different room.

Athel you sound like you have done an amazing job with your tail chaser. Just shows what hard work and patience can do! smile.gif
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sally s
post 3rd Apr 2012, 4:49 pm
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Harvey sounds lovely. I do know how worrying and frustrating it can be though having a dog who chases lights and shadows, especially if you have never come across this kind of thing before - as we hadnt. Our rescue terrier came to us when aged two (he is now six) and he was very quiet and subdued around our other two dogs for the first few days but then the sun came out ohmy.gif

He jumped up the walls and leapt over furniture chasing the sunlight coming in through the window blinds and would not be distracted in any way. We tried to focus him on to toys, food, anything we could think of but nothing worked for more than a few minutes. At one point we were sitting in the house with all the blinds shut every time the sun shone and even then he would prowl around looking for slight gleams of light coming round the edges of the blinds, pouncing and yelping furiously if he managed to find anything err.gif

We have never managed to stop this behaviour altogether, despite using a variety of tactics, but it has improved considerably and really only happens occasionally now when there is the combination of bright sunlight and him already being stressed about something unrelated - most recently being when building work was going on in the house so there was lots of noise and different people around.

The things which have helped seem to be: keeping him to a regular routine as much as possible with his walks; providing him with chews, etc, to help occupy him at other times; putting him in his dog crate (with a thin blanket over) if he starts chasing lights round the room and generally trying to respond in a calm way rather than doing anything to wind him up even further when he is already agitated. (I did worry that using the crate in this way might make him fearful of it but it hasnt done and he gets in it quite happily at other times as well).

I hope things get better with Harvey as he settles down more. He is only young and I think even good changes can be upsetting for a while until dogs find their place in a new household. Best wishes to you all xx
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Alps
post 5th Apr 2012, 7:30 am
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Thank you Sally, you've just made me giggle, knowing that I'm not alone in having tried sitting in a room with the blinds closed on a lovely sunny day smile.gif

Yesterday was a bad one again, once we put the lights on in the house. We had a whole evening of barking scratching and general unsettledness.

He has improved though, and fortunately we're very determined.
Just on another note, does anyone have any suggestions on stopping door scratching? I will have to leave him sooner or later and I'm very worried about the doors. He can open internal ones so I will have to lock the kitchen door but I have visions of coming home to a pile of sawdust where the door used to be! ohmy.gif
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sally s
post 5th Apr 2012, 4:26 pm
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smile.gif Hi, you could try a toddler's safety gate instead of actually shutting the door. I think this does work better for some dogs as they feel less closed in if there isnt the solid barrier of a door. Fortunately ours have never tried to jump the gate, only being quite small, but I suppose that could be a problem for larger more athletic/determined dogs.

Yes be careful about keeping the blinds closed. The house next door to my friend was raided by police recently and was found to be a cannabis farm. When she was telling me she said some of the neighbours had become suspicious because 'they always had the blinds and curtains shut, even on a nice day' lol.gif
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