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Pet dogs turning feral

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by MissSuzie, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. MissSuzie

    MissSuzie Forums Enthusiast

    Nov 19, 2008
    Beautiful SW Florida
    I have a question about the missing Sheltie,Party and comments made about her going feral. I didn't want to hijack her very important thread.

    I have absolutely no experience with this, so I truly do not know what I'm talking about. But does a dog really turn feral in 5 days?

    I can't imagine any of my three changing so drastically in 5 days time. Am I kidding myself? It breaks my heart that this little girl will not come to her owner. So sad. It makes me want to lock mine up!!
  2. SheltieChe

    SheltieChe Forums Sage

    Jan 6, 2010
    It has been recorded many times happy pet dogs can turn feral overnight and it is just dogs going into survival mode. They will not respond to their owners. Something like brain going into shock and stop seeing reality for what it is. They do turn back into their usual pet self and recognize owners after being caught.
  3. Danny's mommy

    Danny's mommy Forums Enthusiast

    Jun 2, 2011
    I have been reading up on dogs going feral when lost. Even after they are caught and back home they still may try to bolt out of the house or yard because they can have the feral instinct for a while after being caught. A feral dogs eyes look almost blank. They do not recognize their owners right away. That's why they tell the owners to sit on the ground turned sideways and not to look at it using food as bait. Shelties are one of the hardest breeds to catch when lost because they go real feral. I pray Party goes in the trap. I would put his blanket and toys in it and his owners scent all over the trap. Plus KFC. I would cover the trap too.
  4. Tagg

    Tagg Forums Enthusiast

    Jan 4, 2012
    Brantford, On
    I don't think that you could say that Party is feral, rather she is in a feral state. She is panicked and unable to trust her surroundings or people because her brain is trying to process too much at once. However, she is still domesticated and is looking to what is familiar - both hers and human scent - for security.
    It would be like you receiving a terrible shock and not being able to process the information being given to you. No matter who is with you or what they are trying to do for you, it just won't sink in.
  5. danisgoat

    danisgoat Moderator

    Jul 23, 2009
    Great question!

    Since the definition of Feral is "having reverted to the wild state, as from domestication" I am going to refer to Party as being feral right now, just because the definition actually refers to the mental state that the dog is in.

    My cousins Sheltie got lost a couple of miles from her home a few years back. He turned feral overnight, from a complete housepet. He lived in the wild, for almost 7 months before he was finally caught. He would not come to his owners who cried for 7 months over him. When he got back into his "home" he overnight went back to a housepet. It was very weird.

    Our Vinca got lost for 6 hours a few years back. She was at a park one mile from our house. The park rangers called us to let us know that she was under a van looking scared to death. We tried and call her and she would not come to us. She had a wild vacant look to her eyes. It was REALLY weird. My daughter was young at the time and started sobbing because she was so upset that Vinca didn't recognize her and we were next to a highway and didn't want to chase her. Something clicked when she started crying and heard the panic in my daughter's voice and she snapped out of it and ran over to her.

    So weird.

    It is definitely something similar to a mental shock that the shelties go through when they get scared and are away from their surrounds.

    It is weird and so hard to understand.

    I would not have believed it, if it didn't happen to our beloved Vinca.
  6. OntarioSheltie

    OntarioSheltie Forums Celebrity

    Apr 29, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks, both of you for making that distinction.

    A truly feral animal would not be able to revert back to being a house pet. My understanding is that a truly feral animal has had little to no contact with people at all.

    It really is disconcerting to think that our beloved fur kids could ever revert to a wild state.

    I was really worried about Ginny last summer when she became completely traumatized by a bee sting. She was acting so completely out of character that I could easily see her becoming feral if she'd escaped.
  7. sable

    sable Forums Enthusiast

    Oct 2, 2008
    Oh my, I never thought about something like that happening. My two don't venture out of the yard without me. How scary that has to be.

    Very interesting.
  8. corbinam

    corbinam Moderator

    Oct 14, 2008
    One of my biggest fears is the dogs getting out. Bentley, I think, would eventually come to someone for food.

    Lexi, my little worrier, I'm afraid would hide and run. If she would come to anyone, it MIGHT be me (she finds my lap for security), but I could see her easily distrusting any and everyone. :(
  9. Tagg

    Tagg Forums Enthusiast

    Jan 4, 2012
    Brantford, On
    Tinsel would forget everything he has learned over the last 6 months and revert to what is his norm - do not trust. He is still very new to believing that humans represent safety. When he came he reminded me of the feral cats that occasionally take up residence in the barn. They will eat the food I put out but with high tail it if I come anywhere in the barn - I've even had bruises where they have hit me in the leg getting away. If I change anything in the barn they notice it immediately and avoid it or won't come into that section of the barn for days even if they slept there before. Tinsel wouldn't run so much as he made himself as little as he could and as flat as he could, feet under his body to protect his body parts that would allow him to escape. Speaking to him directly caused him massive stress seen by swivelling ears, furrows in his brow, increased respiration, lip licking and yawning. He would pace in mindless circles over and over again. It wouldn't take much to send him back to the darkness of that place.
  10. mbfrench

    mbfrench Forums Celebrity

    Aug 2, 2009
    As I sit and read this thread,I am sobbing,as I know that Party has been within 15ft. of a person that she knows well,but still will not come close. They are laying on the orund,trying to bait her in with food.
    I know she has been seen laying in her crate,and has laid next to the trap,but has not gone in...

    So,do I think my boys would come to me in a situation like this,I do not. I know I would be out of my mind,to be so close to one of my dogs,but yet not being able to grab hold.
    I could almost visualize what Trapp & Jasper would look like,and the thought is so upsetting.
    Its a scary thought really,but it is what it is with this breed.

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