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Cooper's Mom
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I haven't posted on here for a while because Cooper was doing wonderfully. He graduated from the AKC STAR puppy class the second week of September, had his 4 month birthday last week, and has just become a total snugglebug. And then last week, something really bizarre happened...

I have to preface this by saying, we got Cooper's crate (before we even got Cooper) from a rummage sale. The crate was from the lady's old dog -a black lab that passed. The crate is in perfect condition, and upon bringing it home we sanded it (it had a few rust spots), cleaned it with a disinfectant, then repeated the next day. It was then stored in the bedroom where it's been ever since, which is where Cooper sleeps.

Cooper has always LOVED his crate. He'd just walk on in when he'd get done playing, and go to sleep- no problem. When we started having to leave for more than an hour or two and leave him for 4 hours instead, he'd whine a little then just settle down and be fine.

Then this past week, something happened... a few nights ago, I woke up to Cooper having a very low whine in the middle of the night, around 2 or 3am (he never wakes up in the middle of the night). I let him out, he pottied, then took him back upstairs- and he would NOT go back in his crate. I was so tired, I just pushed him in and went back to bed, but he kept whining... so I covered my ears and went back to sleep (I had to be up at 5am).

The next night, he started whining at 4am, but it was a whistly whine mixed with a growl. I got up again, but this time he was sitting in the very back corner of his cage, whining at the front of the cage with his ears back- as though he was scared. I opened the cage to let him out again, and he would NOT come out! I had to crawl in and carry him out. I took him downstairs, and he was extremely skittish outside, and kept looking very quickly from here to there, as though he was seeing something. It was absolutely bizarre. When I took him back up to my room, he whined and growled when I started walking toward his cage- not an angry growl, but an unhappy, "Please do NOT put me in there" kind of growl followed by whining. SO, I caved. I let him sleep at the end of my bed.

He layed down upright on my bed, staring at his cage, and started to whine AT his cage again with a quite growl... and he did this for 10 or 15 minutes, at which point I moved him toward me, and he laid down against my tummy and fell asleep peacefully.

Then yesterday, Mike and I were watching TV in the bedroom, just relaxing, and let Cooper hang out at the end of the bed with his bone. But he wouldn't chew peacefully. He'd chew a little while keeping his eye on his cage, then stop and whine or growl at his cage, then go back to chewing and this continued. Never taking his eye off the crate. I finally just took him up by us, we snuggled, and he fell asleep again.

Now to last night- the scary part. Cooper refused to go in his crate- he whined and whined before bed when I went to open the cage and told him to go in. So I just gave in (we don't mind our pets being in bed with us or on our furniture), and let him lie again at the end of the bed. About a half hour later, he started barking at his crate! A hissy, low growl with bared teeth and loud barking! Mike wasn't home, so he didn't see it. I got up to turn the light on, and came back to the bed and went to pet Cooper, and he growled and barked at me and jumped up, with bared teeth, and tried to bite my neck! I pushed him back down, and he continued growling, and I grabbed his mouth holding it closed so he wouldn't bite me, and put him in his crate because it terrified me! He then sat in his crate, silent, rolling over and over in the back corner, looking extremely scared of something in the front of the crate. I then called Mike and told him what happened, and as I did, Cooper suddenly jumped up in his crate, attacked his blanket while growling, and started ripping it to shreds as though trying to kill it! I took it out of his crate, and he started barking ferociously at it! He has NEVER chewed his blanket before, he loves snuggling with it! It came home from his breeder with him.

The weird part is, Cooper is fine in his crate if I keep the lights on, regardless of whether or not I'm in the room. But if he knows the lights are going to turn off, he gets extremely edgy and freaked out.

I have no idea what to think- right now he's snuggled up at my feet sleeping peacefully. And that's normal Cooper. Could he have had a bad dream? Or is he seeing something... else? It doesn't seem to be medical- he's had a parasite when he was younger, and had a bad reaction to medication, so I know how he responds to things medical, but this is different... it seems like he's terrified of something in his crate, but nothing has changed with or in his crate since he came home. And he always seems to be looking at something... but there's nothing there. I've heard that dogs are sensitive to paranormal things... I know it sounds stupid, I never even believed in these things myself, but would Cooper be seeing a ghost or something of the past dog that owned this crate?
 

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& Sawyer's & Quinn's too!
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Huh - I'm sure you'll get much better advice, but I, personally, believe in "that stuff." He is obviously reacting to something, and I do believe that they see/sense things that we usually don't. Not sure what to tell you, but I think if he is that afraid of something, I'd consider doing something differently. Maybe a new/different style crate?
 
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There are at least three possible non-paranormal explanations for a dog who is reacting to something invisible.

First, the dog has made a bad association. He got his leg caught in the crate or his skin pinched somewhere, and he's made an association between that and the crate, but you can't understand what he means because it happened when you weren't looking.

Second, the dog hears or smells something you don't. There's a huge range of sensory information he can access that you can't. There could be a scary sound that's loudest in that corner of the room, for example. Perhaps a boiler or ventilation unit is kicking on and making a sound that's scary to him and inaudible to you. I remember hearing the story of a dog who panicked every afternoon, and the owners finally figured out that it was a neighbor's high speed drill that nobody could hear but the dog.

Third, the dog is injured or sick and is reacting to the discomfort, not the crate. He may think it's the crate that's causing it, but it's actually something like a luxating patella that's popping out when he lies down in there or GI pain that gets worse in the middle of the night. Neurological problems are possible too. He may think the crate is causing his discomfort simply because that's where it happens.

Right now, you're getting extreme fear reactions, and that's when a dog is most dangerous. You probably can't force him or shove him in or around the crate without making it worse, even if you need him in the crate for logistical reasons. You can't afford to have this become a lifelong reaction to stress.

Perhaps try a positive association game. Hang out around the crate and play quiet games with treats. Throw treats in the crate and let him go in to get them. Don't shut him in. Try it with the lights low or out, if you think that's part of the bad association. Show him it's calm and nice. It sounds like the bad association is really bad, so you can't afford to let it go on like this.

I'm not sure what a vet visit will really tell you, since he acts normally so much of the time, but if this continues, you'll have to bring a vet on board in search of solutions.

Good luck!
 

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As you said, animals are more sensitive to paranormal activity. I didn't believe it myself until we got a cat and I noticed the way she would react to things at night. It quickly changed my mind. I would say something in the crate is scaring him. For all your know, the other dog died in that crate. Have you tried reintroducing it to him with treats and maybe a meal?
 

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Cooper's Mom
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Discussion Starter #6
Any chance you could put a night light on during the night for your puppy near the crate, safely? Just an idea.
I feel so silly, I can't believe I didn't think of that... I'll try that tonight, and keep trying to lure and reward him with the treats and see if it improves. Thank you for the advice! The way hes been acting is just so...spooky.
 

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If Cooper is happier sleeping somewhere else and you are OK with that then I think I would remove the crate. I don't believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but for some reason he has developed an aversion to the crate and he does not feel happy or safe in there anymore. He may have realised that he cannot escape from it if he feels frightened (like it has become a trap rather than a refuge). If removing the crate doesn't solve the problem at least you will have eliminated it from finding out what is disturbing him. Does it happen at night when it is dark. There are all sorts of little noises in a house and outside at night and a lot of dogs get more "up on their toes" and wary when it becomes dark.
 

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Brian, you're a party pooper...but you make good sense.

I would remove the crate from the room for a couple of nights since he's fine on the bed thru the night. See if his behavior goes back to normal. If it is one of the things Tippykayak mentioned, then the behavior should continue.

The other suggestion, if you want to continue using a crate, would be to buy a brand new one and see what happens.

I'm such a scardy cat that I would have been beside myself outside the night he was looking everywhere.
 

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Brian, you're a party pooper...but you make good sense.
LOL, fair enough. I don't really believe in the paranormal, but I do believe that there are "more things in heaven and earth" than are "dreamt of in [my] philosophy." I don't think ghosts can be disproven either, though.

However, I also like the principles of Occam's Razor, which states that, all other things being equal, simpler explanations are generally more likely to be true.

So in this situation, I'd go for the physical explanation over the paranormal one, at least when it comes to pursuing solutions. I know that's a buzzkill. ;)
 

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Knife Swallower
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Sorry if I missed this detail, but is the crate always in shadows/dark when he's scared of it? I ask because Ranger reacts to shadows. He's notorious for finding odd shadows and then growling at them. Last night we got a new deck heater - the tall kinds - and the security light threw its shadow 20 ft up on the back wall...and Ranger went nuts. In his defense, it did look like a tall person. Or the time there was a weird shadow in the corner of the living room at dusk.

So, I'm wondering if the crate looks odd when it's dark. Then when you go to put him in and are crouched down/leaning over, is there a light behind you that's casting YOUR shadow into the crate? Based on Ranger's actions, apparently moving shadows are extra scary and need to be warded off by any means possible.

Maybe check into that and see. It would explain why he looks at it growling and then increases as he gets closer, then has a meltdown when he is asked to go into the crate (because at that point, not only is the crate in shadows and he's closer to it, but your shadow might be moving around in the crate). Poor little guy. It's tough to see them so scared!
 

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Have you plugged anything in near the crate? Some transformers make noise that could upset your dog. Once I plugged in a charger behind Cookie's crate and she acted very scared until I realized what was bothering her.
 

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Kate
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It could have been a spider or another biting bug that scared him too.

I've had dogs growl and bark at spiders.

It could have been something else as well. This is the time of the year when mice are coming indoors for the winter. :yuck:

And I would get rid of the crate too and buy a new one and put it in a different place.
 

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2 dogs, 2 cats, so what!
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[email protected] lil deceased dog ghost that just loved his crate so much he aint leaving it!

FTR nothing can be disproven, like unicorns or firebreathing dragons.

For the love of your dog and rational thought, please exclude "ghosts", from your list of causes to more quickly find out what the real issue is.

Hope it gets resolved soon!:)
 

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& Sawyer's & Quinn's too!
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Yes, yes... I know - If you hear hooves, it's probably a horse, not a zebra!
 

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Nancy
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If Cooper is happier sleeping somewhere else and you are OK with that then I think I would remove the crate. I don't believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but for some reason he has developed an aversion to the crate and he does not feel happy or safe in there anymore. He may have realised that he cannot escape from it if he feels frightened (like it has become a trap rather than a refuge). If removing the crate doesn't solve the problem at least you will have eliminated it from finding out what is disturbing him. Does it happen at night when it is dark. There are all sorts of little noises in a house and outside at night and a lot of dogs get more "up on their toes" and wary when it becomes dark.
I agree. And maybe put a gate (or close) at the bedroom door so he doesn't wander at night, at least at first.
 
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