Wednesday night was not a good night.
Figuring out what has been going on with Toby has turned out to be a painful adventure. For months, my otherwise happy puppy has been attacking me. Every resource I encountered mentioned checking the dog’s thyroid levels because low thyroid in dogs can lead to erratic behaviors. I had Toby checked; no low thyroid.
During the attacks, it were as if Toby were asleep. Sometimes he would “wake up” in the middle and looked confused or embarrassed about what was going on.
I think I may have finally figured out what is happening with Toby: Sleep Startle Reflex. Older dogs, deaf dogs – and for some reason greyhounds – tend to have this most often, but any dog can. Basically it is an old survival instinct where if anything – any little thing – happens near the sleeping dog it will attack instantly without even waking up. I don’t even need to touch Toby but make a noise near him and he will come running to growl at and bite me.
What made the condition even harder to pinpoint was that the attacks only happened in the evening or at night not during the day even though Toby sleeps at all of those times. Turns out that the SSR is only triggered during REM sleep. In the afternoons, Toby is merely napping, so he doesn’t dream then.
It felt good to find out that nothing is really “wrong” with my boy; he is just a sleepwalker…..er, sleep attacker. Experts recommend not punishing or yelling at your dog because he is unaware of what he is doing. To him, he just wakes up and everyone is mad at him. It is recommended that you put your furry attacker in a quiet room at night and block it off so that no one disturbs him. Little Toby’s heart has been breaking because I have been having him sleep in his kennel and not in the laundry. I feel awful that he can’t sleep in the bedroom with me, but this room is so small I can’t fit his kennel inside.
Maybe this will be incentive to get rid of some stuff so my puppy can toot contentedly beside me in his sleep.
I hate this kennel. I wanna come back and sleep in the laundry.
Dirty laundry – the bed of the gods.
Come see what Bitey and Super Sleep-Bitey (otherwise known as Toby) have been up to, pick up a copy of Bitey Dog and Toby in Dream Our World! Inside the boys view the world of art from a canine perspective and enjoy a day of unsupervised fun.
Dream Our World is available from my shop.