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Recurring Floor Fear - Is Your Dog a Victim?

Well, orders are slow and bound to get slower due to my most recent cancellation. I’m not worried though. In reality, I will always be fine and forced to keep my head above water, because I have a tiny, hairy Mexican man who depends on me to do so.

No, I’m not gay. I’m a chihuahua owner. Also, I kind of like it when business is going slowly, as it frees up time for the important things in life. These to me, are long walks where I let my wee man lead the way to see where we end up. Moreover, I’m pretty sure that over the past year, if I had a camera follow me around, I’d be able to make some kind of sitcom.

You see, my dog Chico (as far as I am concerned) has free will. He knows that in our apartment, I make the rules and he has to live by my schedule. As soon as we are outside, he is in charge, and I have to live by his. In this case, when I want to go in one direction and he wants to go in another, I usually get this look:

Then there is a stalemate of sorts before we go where he wants. I have also noticed that if I make a habit of not acquiescing to Chico’s walking desires, he will get into the habit of running ahead. This way, he can take whatever route he wants and force me to follow. My dog, if you like, is super intelligent and quite manipulative. This is why I can not understand something which has been the bane of our lives for the past year.

When we moved into our present apartment, Chico was scared of the floor. In this case, I had to carpet the place with throws and rugs. Then he got over it. Rugs were drastically reduced in number and life was as it was before floor fear. Sadly, one morning I woke up to water gushing into my lounge thanks to a burst mains pipe running through the wall. (Maltese building standards are a joke.)

Needless to say, Chico’s floor fear immediately returned with avengeance. The only solution was bigger rugs and precise rug placement coordination. i.e. Rugs and mats needed to all connect so that Chico could have uninterrupted free reign on our apartment.

Thankfully, Chico realized over time, that parts of the floor which are un-rugged, are in fact solid. In this case, for the past 6-months, we have been almost rug free. However, suddenly, out of the blue, abject floor fear is back!

Last night, Chico didn’t come to bed. I realized this morning, that this was due to there being no safe carpeted route to the bedroom. Worse, he hadn’t even been able to make it to his second favorite place, the sofa. Instead, he had spent the night marooned on his dog bed by my desk.

With floor fear now having fully returned, I keep looking over and seeing Chico state back at me in worried horror, as if to say, “how come you aren’t bothered by this? We have no floor anymore!” And I just don’t understand it.

What changed? I have the same floor tiles as a friend I see every day, there Chico trots in without a care in the world, and heads straight for wherever catnip might be found. Moreover, he was cured of this phobia.

So, as I take a sabbatical from orders, I have decided to finally try and get to the bottom of this. In this case, does anyone else have a dog which seems super intelligent, but also suffers from bouts of irrational floor fear?

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This sounds a little familiar. Last year I offered to watch a friends dog and he was also scared of all the floors in the house (tile and hard wood). He was fine on the carpet and I had to built him a little path out of blankets to get around. I have never seen or heard of such a thing before so I was a bit surprised.
Maybe that will help a bit:

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Maybe he was harshly punished in a previous home for accidents he had on the floor. They might develop the idea that the floor is something to be afraid of and to be avoided.
He is adorable and is obviously very intelligent.

He looks very well cared for. Is his little collar loose enough to be comfortable? I always wonder about dogs in collars, if this is uncomfortable for them.

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He only wears his collar when out and about. At home he wears a smoking jacket and a fedora. He rarely complains.

I don’t think its a past life/pre-Andy post traumatic stress issue. He never had this problem before we moved to our current apartment. Also, he kind of lets me know when he gets triggered by a past memory. If he hears a doorbell on the radio, he freaks out. Doorbells are a rarity here. In this case, I presume he lived in a villa/house in the country. There were also places in our last town where I came to know he felt uncomfortable. He doesn’t have this problem anymore.

I may resign to re-rugging. However, it takes just one rainy day and he turns the place into a mud paw print Jackson Pollock painting.

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We have a 5-month-old puppy that has some come and go “floor fear” but hers seems to be related to slips and falls. We don’t always see them happen, but we know there is a pattern. She will run into the kitchen which has a wooden floor and if the floor is really clean or her feet are wet, she slips and falls or slams into something. For the next day or two, she is really aware of that floor and tries to avoid it. She forgets eventually. I think that sometimes she does it when we aren’t looking because it’s an intermittent problem. I suspect that if she were older it would either be better or worse! It might be better because she’d have learned about the floor and her recall might improve with age. It might be worse because she might build up a phobia. So, we keep rugs around when she is going through a bad patch but it helps that there is carpet in other rooms.

The other thing I can think of related to floor fear is with one of my cats. My younger cat likes to stay up high but will happily run across the floor to play or whatever. The older cat is a Siamese with crossed-eyes and some early signs of age-related health issues. She will barely get on any floor anymore, with or without carpet. As best we can tell this is a vision problem for the cat. She seems to have little depth perception, so she is never sure if the floor is solid and she isn’t sure where it is, even if it’s only a few inches from her perch. Since she’s a cat, she just leaps from object to object until she arrives somewhere. We do have to make sure that she always has a route to food, water, and litter.

I don’t know if any of that helps, but good luck with Chico!

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This could actually be exactly what the problem is. Chico is blind in one eye and does have a recurring ulcer on the cornea of his bad eye. This year he’s had a couple of flare ups and is in the midst of one now. I can’t remember the precise timings of the others, but this could be it.

It’s a tricky one as nothing really works to fix it aside from possible eye removal. I used to get antibiotic cream from the vet but practically administering this is like trying to thread a constantly moving needle with a ship anchor chain. Luckily, our holistic vet (who curiously Chico likes going to see) advised me to mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with sterile water and wash his eye whenever he does have a flare up.

This works way better than the cream. However, it was only yesterday that I noticed his bad eye had a tell-tale blue tint. In this case, if it is a depth perception problem, floor fear might go away in the next week as his ulcer (hopefully) is put back under control. He does have some vision in his bad eye, you see.

Thank you for this insight. I wouldn’t have thought of if myself. Now at least, I can look for a possible correlation between floor fear and eye flare ups.

Well done Dr. Fonthaunt!

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No problem, Cy! You know, I used to have another cat that was pretty old and went completely blind. Granted, I haven’t owned a blind dog, just a one-eyed dog. The blind cat was actually more fearful with limited sight. Once she went totally blind she seemed to realize that it wasn’t an option to depend on that sense anymore. She learned to navigate by whisker feel and sound, as best I could tell. She did just fine totally blind for 4 more years of good life. If we re-arranged the furniture in any major way she would be pissed off and disoriented for a few days, though. We tried not to do it too often. I hope you get some things worked out! :heart: :dog:

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I have a friend with a blind cat. To be honest, you wouldn’t even know it is blind. It even hunts lizards in the yard. Of course, it is a house cat and not allowed to wander further than the yard.

Chico sees fine with his good eye. However, cats are a huge problem as he tries to be friends but most freak out when they see him bounding toward them. Then when they claw, they aim for the eyes. This means I have to step in like a policeman asking what everyone’s business is whenever they meet.

Chico does have some cats which are friends. However, these cats seem not to associate with the ‘normal’ dog-fearing cats. Also, when Chico is with dogs who suddenly realize there is a cat about and start barking, he ends up looking around lost like nun who’s just realized she’s at a swingers party.

There seem to be very complex sociological/species taboos in the dog and cat world. Hopefully, we’ll find a way to break these one day. Who knows, it might even be pet health collaboration efforts between feline and canine owners who help make this happen. :slight_smile:

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Cats and dog eyes are risky, I have to say. I had a good friend with a Pomeranian who lost an eye to a cat. Granted, the dog was being a pushy critter and the cat defended itself, but it can happen so fast. Since our dog is young and our cats have claws, we keep the cat’s claws trimmed and have raised them all very close together. For whatever reason, some breeds of dog seem to be devout cat haters, some seem more chill and some seem to go with how they are raised. For me, poodles and golden retrievers are the most cat-friendly and I don’t really know exactly why.

The more aggressive/dominant dog breeds have a high prey drive so dogs like Belgian Malinois and pitties seem to be pretty hard on cats unless it’s a perfect situation. Our dog is going to be a really big poodle, probably 65 lbs, so we got her at 6 lbs and raised her to mingle with the cats. She’s about 35 lbs at 5 months and she likes the cats. I’ve had Goldens who would actually guard newborn kittens like a Mom even if they weren’t raised with cats. I would guess that whole predator/prey thing has something to do with part of it. It is weird stuff. :wink:

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I don’t really agree with this. To me it is all about how animals are socialized. Everyone assumes that Chihuahuas are noisy aggressive dogs and a lot are. However, this comes from owners deciding what their breed is for. Is it an accessory? Is it a low maintenance dog you can look at once a day? If so, it is never going to know how to react to the world.

The same applies to other dog breeds. Chico has a husky friend, a Tal Fenec Pharaoh Hound friend, a Pit Bull friend and lots of Chihuahia friends. They all get along because (in my opinion) these are all family dogs who owners really pay attention to. Conversely, dogs which I sense are walked at most once a day and never really absorbed into a family, are either aggressive or excruciatingly timid.

Either they don’t understand local dog lingo and sniffing etiquette, or they see everything on four legs as a threat to their owner who they are constantly craving the attention of.

Cat politics is different, as cats are fiercely independent by nature. Humans have a window of opportunity to prove they are worthy of companionship. However, if that opportunity doesn’t manifest, they simply revert to feral self reliance. Well cared for owned cats seem to be accepting of well cared for owned dogs. And vice versa to a degree.

I don’t really believe in the innate aggressive tendencies of different breeds of dogs or cats. I think everything comes down to some owners taking pets on, but never appreciating that in doing so, they invite and take responsibility for developing the personality of another being in their household.

You will probably realize this yourself by raising your dog alongside cats, You are making an effort to socialize and do the right thing from an early age. You will end up with a very happy pet family and yet also start to be shocked occasionally, when you meet ‘accessory pets’ and abandoned animals, by just how different their personalities are.

Sadly, I do think that at a certain age, dog and cat temperaments do become fixed and this is where we get many breed stereotypes from.

There is a really nice old man near me who had a beautifully loyal and very timid rottweiler until she died last year. They were together for 17 years and kind of grew old together. Now this man has replaced her with a rottweiler pup, but forgot just how much attention such pups need. Also, he’s really not capable of giving his new dog this attention. As result, his fast growing pup is the terror of the town, as when he opens the door, its gone.

Quite a few times I’ve retrieved his dog for him and walked it with me and Chico. However, I can sense its confusion and need for more attention, which is already leading to stereotypical bad rottweiler behavior.

Ideally, people should never take on pets as vanity projects or animals which they are not fully capable of taking care of. When people take on pets and decide to devote themselves to them as new family members, they open doors to having what are really the best friends and companions in life, regardless of breeds or stereotypes.

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My last cat was found as a tiny kitten in the middle of a busy highway. I had to stop five lanes of traffic and block it with my car to pick her up from the pavement. She was a biter and hated to be touched even at the age of four weeks, and after two months of daily brushing which took all my strength to hold her down, she finally came to accept it one morning and didn’t fight and try to bite. But she never stopped occasionally snapping at anyone who tried to touch her, although most of the time she purred and enjoyed being petted. She was a manx and I was told that breed is considered wild.

She got constant love, attention and adoration from our family of cat fanatics. She was spoiled rotten. But that head of hers would still sometimes snap around 180 degrees for a sudden bite when being petted.

There is a theory that some cats that are biters have nervous systems that get quickly overstimulated by being touched.

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Chico does this with some people. I used to apologize. However, lots of hindsight moments have shown me that he is a far superior judge of character than I am. I’ve had people in my life who seem lovely but Chico hasn’t trusted them. Later they have shown their true colors. For the past year, I’ve given his judgment precedent over mine, and ended up a lot happier for it.

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I assure you animals love me. I held a baby tiger once in a group of about 12 people and the entire time the little cub squirmed and tried to get to me if anyone else held him. People remarked that it was strange he only wanted to be held by me. I projected love at him involuntarily upon first site and I believe he felt it. Our manx adored my mother but still one time drew blood when she bit her.

I’ve seen wonderful affectionate loving cats who will suddenly bite so I think it’s true that some simply cannot take much stimulation from petting. They all need to be handled gently from birth ideally. I’ve also seen that some breeds are much more accepting of being handled, such as Persians. Of course being purebred they are most likely to be handled a lot from birth.

Well, you can be a bit catty sometimes. :wink:

I’m pretty sure animals read empathy and sincerity like people do signs for free wifi. I attract injured and stray animals like nobodies business. This year I’ve had a chameleon, kitten, pigeon, stray cat, and two dogs. Every time they seem to find me or in the case of the pigeon, literally land at my doorstep.

I have tried to use my animal magnetism as a chat up line. However, when I do, I see women’s eyes say: “Ouch, fleas & possible wierdness.” In this case, I keep quiet. However, you can guarantee that if I end up on a hot date, I’ll inevitably have a stray or injured animal turn up out of the blue and have to make my usual: “Oh :poop:” decision to give it a warm bed and a good meal for the night, as opposed to any romantic interest. It’s literally like a curse.

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I felt that the hurt animals were being sent to me they turned up so frequently right in front of me.

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I’ll +1 the visual impairment being the possible reason.

My cat won’t jump up if it’s anything higher than a regular chair. He attempts a table or a windowsill occasionally, and it’s always such an uncoordinated disaster, I don’t keep things lying around on any elevated horizontal surfaces that may interest him anymore. He manages to jump down from any height but it takes him ages to aim before doing that.

He had pretty brutal reoccurring eye infection as a kitten and after running all kinds of tests vets concluded it might be the case of him growing up visually impaired and never learning to understand the space around him very well. He has no brain anomalies and his vision is as good as it can be now, it’s just that the vertical plane is not really his thing. We’ve built him the stairs, he loves taking the stairs. :slight_smile:

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Our manx always avoided climbing on anything higher than a bed and one of her eyes seemed to bulge a little so I assumed she had a vision problem. I got her a big cat tree which she had zero interest in. We kept her indoors because we sensed she wouldn’t last long outdoors. She would study the floor carefully before jumping down from the bed or mother’s lap.

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So odd to think about a cat having restricted mobility. I also have his twin sister from the same litter (literally the same-looking cat, but smaller) and she climbs walls and runs across the ceiling all the time. The difference is so jarring.

I never met a cat who’d show any interest in cat trees, honestly. I’m convinced it’s an accessory people buy to then gift to each other endlessly, going: “Maybe yours will like it”.

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I totally agree with you on this in general. I think that socialism is more critical than anything if you are trying to get any two domestic animals to get along including dogs and cats. Two things make me think there is still some connection to breed. One is that I’ve seen it myself, although I could absolutely have misinterpreted what I’ve seen so I can disregard that one for the sake of debate. The other one is that if you read and study wolves and dingos next to domestic dogs, the feral or semi-ferals won’t interact with humans and other animals the same way domestics will - even if a wolf or dingo is raised from birth in a domestic situation. Studies show that it takes generations for a feral to become a domestic, though pretty much any animal could be domesticated over time. Or - I could be full of it. :slight_smile:

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