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Old 07-13-2012, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Woodinville
2,168 posts, read 1,458,213 times
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Default Sudden anxiety in the middle of the night, terrified of crate

My dog has recently developed an extreme anxiety issue. For the past several nights, she gets up in the middle of the night and frantically tries to escape her crate. She's acting like something has seriously freaked her out, but I have no idea what. I've been present when one of these anxiety attacks starts and there's no noises or anything that could spook her that I can hear or see. Generally when I'm around she'll calm down within a few minutes.

The first night, she was so anxious that she managed to bend her steel-wire crate enough to escape. I never knew she was so strong! She was so determined that I found a little blood on the crate bars from where she was pulling with her teeth. Crazy. Anyway, she's had one night where she was fine and three nights (out of the last 4) so far where she goes berserk.

Another weird thing I've found is that she's ok during the day and happily goes in her crate when I ask. At night though, when she knows it's time for bed, she suddenly gets fearful of her crate. Then sometime between 2am and 4am she freaks out and keeps me up the rest of the morning.

This is particularly worrisome and frustrating as she has always been a very well-behaved dog. She's always been very quiet and enjoyed her crate. Now she's a maniac and I'm not getting any sleep! Nothing has changed recently, her crate is where it always has been. Bed times, wake times, and our work schedules are consistent. In fact, we spend more time with her than ever before.

Has anyone ever run into this scenario before? Any help is greatly appreciated. I'm super worried since neither of us really has the capacity to fix a long-term problem. I've always been very dependent on her good behavior and if I can no longer trust her in her crate that's a huge HUGE deal.
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:02 PM
 
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I'm an excessively rational person, so don't take this as a tinfoil-on-head supernatural suggestion, but there is a possibility that your dog is picking up signals you can't perceive. Your dog may be sensitive to some deep vibrations/sounds that freak her out and make her want to get out in the open, or hide somewhere else--or maybe even save you. Find out about the current condition of Mt. Rainier, just for kicks. Have you tried to open the crate and see what she chooses to do? Don't just blow it off as an irrational change in her--she may be responding to something very real. Allow her out of the crate, and watch her body language. Know where your emergency kit is!

Then again, something may just have scared her while you were sleeping. Either way, such behavior doesn't come out of nowhere in a healthy dog.
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Woodinville
2,168 posts, read 1,458,213 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Fork Fantast View Post
I'm an excessively rational person, so don't take this as a tinfoil-on-head supernatural suggestion, but there is a possibility that your dog is picking up signals you can't perceive. Your dog may be sensitive to some deep vibrations/sounds that freak her out and make her want to get out in the open, or hide somewhere else--or maybe even save you. Find out about the current condition of Mt. Rainier, just for kicks. Have you tried to open the crate and see what she chooses to do? Don't just blow it off as an irrational change in her--she may be responding to something very real. Allow her out of the crate, and watch her body language. Know where your emergency kit is!

Then again, something may just have scared her while you were sleeping. Either way, such behavior doesn't come out of nowhere in a healthy dog.
Yeah we've had thunderstorms here the past few days. It's pretty rare to have thunderstorms in Seattle so I didn't know how she would respond to them. The thing is, she's TERRIFIED of fireworks and she was ok on the 4th. She was scared but never summoned super strength to bend steel and escape. She's skittish and scares pretty easily, but all times I've seen her ultra-spooked I've never witnessed this type of behavior. Usually she just tucks her tail and gets uneasy.

The other thing is the overnight storms were very very far away. Maybe she heard or felt them but I haven't heard them at all. I know sometimes pets get kooky when storms are brewing, but they were so far away I'm not sure whether that was a contributor or not. That's the best theory we have so far.

When I open her crate she bolts out but stays close to me and acts very scared and/or stressed. After a few minutes it passes and she falls asleep (while I get stuck cleaning up whatever mess she made at 3am)
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Arizona & Wisconsin
4,816 posts, read 5,475,412 times
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I'm also of the opinion that there is a reason the dog is going crazy like that. She's picking up on something: Seismic activity, weather, something. Dogs pick up on things people can't see or feel. I doubt it's a per se behavioral problem, but probably a reaction to something.
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:47 PM
 
1,014 posts, read 1,199,774 times
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if you dog is an adult there is really no reason she should be closed into
the crate at nite. leave the door open so she can come and go. the reason she will go into crate during and not during nite is beacuse nite time is when " scary" thing happens.

a crate is a training tool that should be eased out of use. imo.
nothing wrong with having dog use it as a bed but why close the door? a housebroken dog
is more than capable of never sleeping in a crate after the first year.

could you be snoring so loudly that it freaks her out? that is the only idea I have but know for sure
that it most likely is something real bothering your dog.
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:07 AM
 
Location: Northern California
910 posts, read 681,350 times
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Can you try moving the crate for a night to a different room? You could see if it's the actual crate causing the issue or some negative association with that part of the house. Maybe there is a tree outside scaring her, a light, a neighbor, the wind, etc. It seems a little odd that she has no issues during the day, and only at night.

If it is definitely the crate, you could try building positive associations with it again. You could also try covering part of it to make it feel more secure or playing some white noise/soft music in the background.

If she doesn't have to use the crate you could also leave it open and let her go in and out as she pleases.
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Up on the moon laughing down on you
18,516 posts, read 14,721,921 times
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Sounds like the crate is haunted. Call a priest.
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:35 AM
 
Location: AZ
381 posts, read 246,646 times
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To the op,

Yes my rescue went through that a few years ago. Woke up in the middle of the night screaming, he loved his crate, I could not figure out what had him so bothered. For about four days he continued this behavior. We finally gave up. I tore the crate down cleaned it real well, washed his blankets, and put it out of his site for one month. My agility dog still slept in her crate, we checked behind her for spiders, it did cross our minds the rescue may have gotten bit which would have caused pain and that he would associate the crate to something bad.

Anyway I set up his dog bed next to the agility dog, and left him out for a month. We blocked off the kitchen so he couldn't roam the house at night. It worked fine. After a month we reintroduced the crate. It sat next to his bed, door open. After about two days he was sleeping in it all the time. Three years later, same crate, same dog, new house though, and he gets upset when the door of his crate isn't open so he can get into it. That's what we did and it worked. I wish you luck.
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:08 PM
 
1,034 posts, read 993,383 times
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I agree with the idea it could be weather or other natural activity. Though my first thought was, could you possibly have a mouse? Occasionally I get a squirrel trying to break into my chimney in the winter and my dog is always the first to freak out.

Good luck.
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Woodinville
2,168 posts, read 1,458,213 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by movedtothecoast View Post
could you be snoring so loudly that it freaks her out?
Lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by beth98 View Post
I agree with the idea it could be weather or other natural activity.
We're thinking it turned out to be the weather. We had an odd pattern of thunderstorms last week which is rare here. I think she's super sensitive to the vibrations caused by the thunder and she probably heard it even though we couldn't. After all, she would get scared of fireworks that were BARELY audible to us, so no reason thunder from very far away would freak her out as well.

I slept right next to her crate a few nights and gave her a natural calming aid before going to bed every night. I've also been re-crate training her so she's falling in love with her little den again. No thunderstorms since last week and she's been content the past few nights! Let's hope she stays tired and happy.
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