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Dog suddenly becoming obsessed with staring at her own reflection

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by Sunflower77, May 6, 2019.

  1. Sunflower77

    Sunflower77 Forums Regular

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    Sparkle is a seven-month old, unspayed female. About three days ago, she started to look out my French door for very long period. She will whine sometimes too. At first, I thought she wanted to go out. So I opened the door for her. All she did was going to the other side of door and staring back from the outside. I later realized that she was staring at her own reflection. She will also sniff at her image and lick the glass. She can do this for hours and in the early morning, she’d do this instead of greeting people or begging for food. This all started three days ago.

    This behavior change is unusual. When she first came to my home at age of four months, she was startled to see her reflection via the same French door. She’d bark at it but she quickly lost interest. Not sure she realized it’s her own image or not. But she basically ignored the reflection until three days ago. She also never shows even the slighted interest to her image in any mirror, even now. She only looks at the blurry reflection through the French door.

    I’m not sure whether this means she’s about to get in heat. She’s unspayed as I will have her fixed after her first heat due to her inverted vulva. I checked her private part. It’s not swollen and looks normal. Does anyone have a clue what is going on?
     
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  2. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Forums Enthusiast

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    Perhaps she's just becoming aware of her reflection now, I know Finnie can't NOT look at his reflection when near a mirror.. I have a floor length mirror and ever since he was around 6 months old he'd sit and look at himself (I think he's vain lol). My obedience trainer has mirrors set up in her obedience studio and whenever we're heeling he will still become distracted for a second when he sees himself. I'm still not sure if he knows it's him as he doesn't growl or bark.
     
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  3. Caro

    Caro Moderator

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    It could be that she's become aware of her reflection, although I vaguely thought my own dogs were younger when they became aware of their reflection.

    It could also be an OCD behaviour, in which case you should nip it in the bud immediately. I've seen this type of OCD behaviour in Cattle dogs - fixated on reflections and shadows, and I recall Victoria Stillwell did an episode on it. My friend with the shadow-fixated ACD had to divert her dog whenever she saw a shadow (you can imagine that was a lot), and when we did flyball we'd position ourselves to cover the shadows until the dog was released and then once the dog was running she was fine. Sometimes it's anxiety related, so maybe she's anxious about hormonal changes, but whatever the cause it's too easy to turn into a habituated response.

    If it is OCD there's no point trying to treat it away. I'd cover up the lower part of the French door so she can't see any reflections. If she still tries to lick the door when she can't see the reflection then you could try a redirect - throw really good smelling food in the other direction or have a play with her. But definitely stop it now.

    Btw - is she licking anything else? She could have hay fever.
     
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  4. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

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    "I'd cover up the lower part of the French door so she can't see any reflections".

    My thought too Caro... I agreed with OCD.
     
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  5. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

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    I third the idea of covering up the door - nip the behavior in the bud and hopefully she will forget about it.
     
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  6. Sunflower77

    Sunflower77 Forums Regular

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    Thank you all for your replies. I didn’t even know OCD could affect dogs. I had thought of the possibility that she mistakened her own reflection as a male dog. LOL.

    I tried to close the curtains. But she crawled under the panels to gain access. Talking about being obsessed. I’ll see whether I can distract her or temporarily put her into her crate when she does it again.
     
    Ann likes this.
  7. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

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    You may have to tape some cardboard up temporarily, she sounds pretty persistent!
     
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  8. Caro

    Caro Moderator

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    I agree, tape over the windows for now.
     
  9. Cindy

    Cindy Premium Member

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    I did something similar when the neighbor directly underneath my apartment complained about Gavin barking at maintenance people he would see from the sliding glass doors working around my place. It worked really well. When someone broke into their apartment and stole a TV, Gavin didn't bark.
     
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  10. Sandy in CT

    Sandy in CT Premium Member

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    Might sound cruel but this made me laugh this morning. Karma, aye?!
     
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