Sunday, 16 November 2008

A Question for Dog Owners

Have any of you ever had, or known, a dog who seems spooked by a smell? On Wednesday on our usual afternoon walk, Tessa B suddenly let out one looooong howl then turned round and ran, barking like crazy, to a nearby drystone wall. She stood on her hind legs staring to the downwards fields, hair on end, wild look in her eyes. I hadn't heard any unusual noise and the fields were empty, the sheep out of sight. I put her on the lead, calmed her slightly and took her home. Indoors, she stared out of the window (facing the downwards fields again) carried on sniffing, barking, sniffing, barking.
She's booked in for spaying on Tuesday so, although I couldn't see any sign, in case she was having a phantom pregnancy and barking to protect 'the puppies', we took her to the vet. Definitely not a phantom pregnancy; the vet gave her a thorough check all over and said she's now in tip top condition. Vet couldn't shed any light on the spooked problem and suggested a DAP collar. We put it on her straight away. She's very slightly less spooked but not much and we sussed out when she sniffs it seems to be towards where the ram is about to - or has just done - his duty. The strange thing is, we've walked her really close to the ram and she didn't bat an eyelid. But all three times we've done that, the ram has been 'resting'. We have foxes, badgers, squirrels and weasels come in the garden so she's used to the smell of them - though I suppose there could be a newcomer who smells different.
I've asked farmers and a few blogging friends who have sheep farms if they've ever known a dog spooked by the scent of a ram but they haven't. Tessa B still enjoys playing out with her doggy friends but stops mid-play to sniff the air.
LOL, sorry for the smelly post but it's just so sad and worrying to see Tessa B acting this way, she obviously feels threatened by the smell; any thoughts, suggestions and/or advice will be very gratefully received.


KAREN said...

I can't offer any helpful suggestions I'm afraid. Although Molly is often spooked by noises we can't even hear, I've never known it happen with smells. Quite spooky :oO MUST be something to do with the ram?

HelenMH said...

I haven't had a dog for years. I love dogs but my lifestyle is more suited to cats :) I've never heard of this before, my grandmother's dog used to have lots of phantom pregnancies so I know that can make them a bit peculiar, but if it's not that I don't know. This might be a bit bonkers, but do you think she knows you're about to have her spayed and might be reacting to that? Maybe you'll find she settles down after that's done anyway. Do keep us posted about how she gets on.

Pat Posner said...

Karen, it is spooky. Even the fireworks didn't bother her much and she didn't see them, just heard them *sigh*

Pat Posner said...

I did wonder about that myself because I've told Tessa she's going to the vet's on Tuesday but not to worry because she'll only be away a couple of hours - OK, I lied, it'll be a bit longer than 2 hours.
She was already booked in for spaying before this happened but I'm really, really hoping she returns to her usual self after it's done.

Lane said...

How strange! Poor Tessa B.
I think you're probably right though when you say most likely she can pick up the scent of something different - probably the ram. It obviously signals a threat for her to get so agitated.

I hope she's ok after her trip the vets on Tuesday. Isn't spaying meant to calm them down if they're a bit hormonal.

Give her a big stroke from me:-)

JJ said...

In my riding days we used to ride a horse, Blue, by a pig farm, and he HATED it. Could bear the smell.

It's not remotely helpful to you, is it? Since you're talking dogs and rams, and I'm talking horses and pigs.

Sorry about that.

Amanda said...

Oooh, very odd! My dog, when I lived at home, wouldn't pass a building known to be haunted. :-OO
She would just sit down and not move. And one day she slipped her lead and ran all the way home. Oooooooooh!
Hope Tessa B gets over her fear and copes with her trip to the vets.

Pat Posner said...

Tessa said thank you for the stroke, Lane. She was fine on her walk this morning but it's raining stair rods so the scent is probably being diluted! Or maybe mr ram don't do hsi thing in the rain *smile*

JJ, it is helpful because it showns animals can be spooked by a smell.

Glad you're still paying a weekly visit, Amanda!

Shirley said...

How very strange. I've had dogs since I was 8 and have never known them to be spooked by a smell. Having said that, I don't remember any of them being near rams.

Perhaps she'll calm down after she's been spayed. I hope so. Poor thing.

Keep us posted, Pat. And give her a big hug from me.

Milla said...

I can't say anything useless since I'm so not tuned into dogs as my fed-up dog would attest, but I wanted to come over and say hello to your blog anyway!

Anonymous said...

Glad you decided to post about Tessa B, Pat. I know how worried you both are. Let's see what the vet says tomorrow.

CJ xx

Debs said...

My dog does that sometimes, but I don't think it's due to a smell, although, to be honest, I've no idea what it's due to as we never hear/smell or see anything at the time he does this.


Pat Posner said...

Tessa sends lick-yous for the hug, Shirley.

Milla, good to see you here, thanks for visiting.

CJ, Tessa B has just played out with two of her friends and didn't sniff the air or do anything but play. It's still hammering down and there's hardly any wind so that's probably keeping the scent away still.

Maybe we should start a club for spooked dogs, Debs!

Flowerpot said...

My Moll hasnt got spooked by smells so far - no wonder you're worried Pat. Please keep us posted. And a big hug for you both.

lampworkbeader said...

I can't offer any suggestions as to what may be spooking your dog, but do know dogs may be frightened by the strangest of things. I know a collie/lab cross that barks at nothing in the corner of the room. I guess crystal would say it was a ghost.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pat - good luck for the big day tomorrow, shall be thinking of you.
You never know' the break in her normal routine might have a soothing effect on Tessa B. Let me know how it goes so that I am forwarned for my own Tessie.

Pat Posner said...

Thanks for the hugs, Flowerpot. We both enjoyed them *smile*.

Lampie, we've got a ghost dog in the walk-in cupboard in my study. On the very first day we moved here, the two rough collies we had at the time kept pawing at the cupboard door and whining. When I opened the cupboard there were scratch marks grounged all down the inside of the door. So we took the door off. I heard months later, that a farmworker who once lived here kept his dog locked in that cupboard!
The dogs and the cat we had at the time often just sat staring into the cupboard. They weren't bothered just 'talking' I guess. We've had 3 more dogs since then(including Tessa B and she isn't bothered but clearly knows the ghost dog's there) and they've all acted the same way.

Fiona said...

Poor girl.

You could try taking really tasty treats with you. Something very smelly like liver treats or old cheese. Don't stroke her when she does this because she thinks you are saying, 'So I'm right to be scared.' Speak in a high Enid Blyton voice, offer treat then ignore her and carry on with your walk.
I have another blog - where I hope to answer pet questions and if I can - I'll find find a dishy vet who can

Pat Posner said...

Hi, Weaver
Thank you for the good luck wishes. I'll keep you updated, don't tell your Tessie anything yet, though - especially the bit about having to be kept on the lead for a couple of weeks after the op *shudder*

Pat Posner said...

Oh, thank you for that suggestion Fiona. I'll try it with cheese; Tessa adores ripe Blue Stilton and other smelly cheeses.

I started taking a squeaky toy with me - hidden in my pocket - and if she runs off barking a couple of squeaks bring her straight back. But then, um, I tell her she's a good girl. Maybe she thinks I mean she's good for barking??

In one way, it'll be easier after tomorrow as well because there be no walks off the lead. But poor girl will hate not being able to play with her doggy pals.

Carol and Chris said...

Hmmmm.....i've never heard of that before!! Where did you get her Pat? Could it be that it's not the smell itself but a memory triggered by the smell? Pehaps someone who worked with pigs on a farm mistreated her?

Poor we thing...make sure you give her lots of cuddles

C x

Kate Hardy said...

Will be thinking of you today at the vet's.

Not heard of a dog being spooked by scent, either; all our dogs in the house where I grew up refused to go in a certain area of the garden (there's a ghost story attached to that, as you know *g*) but all our spaniels have been fine. Just the usual "oh, and who have you been playing with?" sniff-interrogation when you come home after making a fuss of someone else's dog.

Pat Posner said...

Carol, Tessa B came from quite a built-up area so I don't think it was a 'bad memory' thing. She'll sure be getting lots of cuddles when she comes home from the vet's today.

Hi, Kate
You wrote that like it's me at the vet's *grin*. I wish I could be there with Tessa; I did ask but I knew the answer would be 'no'.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I've never heard of anything like this before, and I used to be fairly involved in all things doggy. But it's quite clear she's picked up a scent which is causing her great distress. The only way to narrow it down is to test her with smells - but that seems like a hard way to do things if she's already so spooked. I wonder if it couldn't be the scent of some other unfamiliar animal that isn't seen but which she can smell. Or if there is poison out somewhere. She sounds like a sensible dog so there must be something out there. Do you know if any other dogs are affected in the same way?

Pat Posner said...

Hi, Vanilla
Somebody told me their dog acts in a slightly similar way during the deer rutting season; that's the only 'near comparison'.
None of our other dogs were like it and none of Tessa's doggy friends are.
Anyway, she's got something else to bother her now *sigh*: short gentle walks on the lead. Aaaagh! Vet says for two weeks - or at least til she's had her stitches out in 10 days. Also I've a feeling she's going to need a lampshade collar - she's quite interested in her staples but, as yet, hasn't nibbled at them.

Mistlethrush said...

My parents' dog always knows when the fox has been into HER garden - her hair stands on end! So now dad leaves the fox's titbits in the front garden - it keeps them both happy!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I'm so sorry she was spooked. I do know their sense of smell is so very much stronger than our own. Is it possible any animal could have been in trouble, ie hurt or sick, nearby?? I have noticed my two respond to another dog's distress signals pretty reliably.

Do keep us posted.