Tuesday Topics #29 - Getting Over a Bad Experience

Yesterday, after posting about how nice all the dogs at the soccer field are, we had a negative encounter with a vizsla. We see this female vizsla often and haven't had any issues, although Cabana has never really played with her directly. But yesterday, right when we walked up to the fields, the vizsla and another dog, Ginger, were walking by with their owners. Ginger, who normally doesn't like to play, came over to Cabana and initiated play. This surprised me because Ginger is not usually very playful. In fact, Ginger usually lets Cabana know that she does NOT want to play. But this time, Ginger was wiggling her body, wagging her tail, and moving in an unmistakably playful way.

Suddenly, the vizsla started to chase Cabana in what I thought was play. But within a few seconds, Cabana let out a long stream of yelps and stopped running. She sat down in the grass with a forlorn expression on her face. I hadn't even known that the yelping was from Cabana until I saw her sit down. I calmly went over to her to investigate, but I couldn't see anything--no broken skin, no blood, no marks of any kind.

The only thing I can figure is that maybe the vizsla felt jealous or protective of Ginger and didn't want Cabana to play with "her friend".

For the rest of the time there, Cabana was very subdued. I watched her carefully, but I couldn't detect any limping or favoring, yet she didn't play with any of the other dogs--quite weird for Cabana. Meanwhile, the owner of the vizsla was still there on the fields, but she never once apologized or asked if Cabana was okay. Whatever!

Today, we went back to the fields, and this time, the vizsla was not there--yay! Again, I kept a close eye on Cabana. She started out a bit skittish. Even on the way to the fields, Cabana reacted to a loud car, which normally doesn't affect her in the slightest. Then, it took her a while to get into the swing of things with the other dogs.

cabana doing a play bow as little black and white spaniel maggie looks at herBut thankfully, Cabana's sweet puppy friend, Maggie, a 10-month old springer spaniel, coaxed Cabana into playing. Cabana and Maggie LOVE to romp and roughhouse, and I was relieved to see Cabana back to her normal self. She seemed 100% back to being Cabana.

cabana in a blur running up to Maggie who is looking back at cabana, cabana is lunging and looking somewhat ferociousUNTIL...we got back home. Cabana had gotten wet and muddy in the grass, so I tried to dry her off with some old towels. But whenever I tried toweling off her left hind quarters, she BARKED at me! Three times I tried, and all three times, she barked. Cabana almost NEVER barks, so it is extremely unusual behavior for her.

As a test to see if Cabana was hurt, I played tug-of-war with her, but she played very normally. While playing, I tried touching her all over, giving friendly pats on her back and legs to see if I could get another reaction out of her. But she didn't do anything out of the ordinary.

I can't figure out if she's hurt or if she's just being protective of where she might have been nipped by the vizsla. Should I keep trying to poke around and see if I can get a reaction? Should I keep taking her to the fields, like I normally would, to make her "get back on the horse"? Or should we take a break from playing with other dogs?

Maybe she was barking for something totally unrelated? I was drying her off in the backyard, near her baby pool. Now that I think of it, she HAS barked a few times out of excitement while playing in the baby pool. So I might be linking two incidents that have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

I'm trying my best to not transfer any feelings of fear, anxiety, remorse, or over-sympathy. But it's really hard because I just don't know what to do, and I DO feel affected by it. Is it Cabana trying to get over the bad experience, or is it just ME trying to get over it?! Help!

Maddie and Betsy  – (July 20, 2010 at 10:55 AM)  

I don't have any advice, but I am interested to see what other people have to say. Good Luck!

Heather and Ellie  – (July 20, 2010 at 11:17 AM)  

Poor Cabana! :(

Barking does seem like an odd response to pain, if it was a whimper, growl, whine, that would make sense. You might want to try the same exact scenario again, but in the house. Get a towel and dry off her hindquarters (even if she isn't wet) and see if she reacts the same way in a quiet environment. I wouldn't suggest this if she was an aggressive dog, but as she's never shown a sign of aggression I think you should give it a try.

It's possible she was just bruised, which would mean tugging wouldn't bother her but pushing on it would. I really don't know, I hope it isn't an issue!

Raiser Erin  – (July 20, 2010 at 1:00 PM)  

If her hind end "shivers" or flinches when you touch it then she might be hurt. Otherwise I think she's still getting over the mean dog. I would continue to take her to the soccer field because she does seem like she's having fun with her normal friends, but if that mean dog is there with her non apologetic owner then I wouldn't let her play until they leave. The dog might remember Cabana and really lay into her. Make them feel all bad about it or something and say "You can't play until that dog is gone." :) Poor Cabana. I hope she gets back to her normal self in another day or two.

Maggie Mae  – (July 20, 2010 at 4:52 PM)  

Poor Cabana :(
I hopes that you are able to work everything out.
The owner of the Visla is a jerk.

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

Emily and Pepe  – (July 20, 2010 at 5:38 PM)  

Poor Cabana! I hope she gets over her fear soon!

I'd say maybe a few playdates with dogs she's comfortable with. This will get her back into the swing of things in an easy manner.

With the barking, I'd just take advantage of a time when she's laying down, and go over and gently pet that area. Maybe start with some ear massage (massaging the ears release endorphins, which make dogs relax.)
Hope that helps!

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta  – (July 20, 2010 at 6:12 PM)  

I am sure Cabana is a strong dog and will get over it. One time, when we were at a KC Royal's game when Ellie was a PIT. A friend who was waiting on a successor SD and who is in a wheelchair was working Ellie while I was working another PIT. A man reached over her butt and grabbed her. She has HATED people doing that to her or touching her butt ever since. She grunts. I have worked with her and worked with her and she lets me... but occassionally and for no apparent reason I'll just move weird and she'll get freaked. I really hope Cabana's is just a weird pulled muscle or bruise and nothing that will affect her long term.

JackDaddy  – (July 20, 2010 at 8:30 PM)  

I hope that whatever it is is quickly fixed and that Cabana is back to her old self!

Sierra Rose  – (July 22, 2010 at 9:23 PM)  

Oh my! I know that us puppers tend to work things out, and our hoomans take longer to sort things out. Keep on playin', keep on watching for signs....hoping all will sort out asap. Hugs!

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

Kari in WeHo  – (July 23, 2010 at 2:20 PM)  

I can't say Ive heard that one before, poor girl.

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