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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Mabel has just turned 5 months and from an early age (around 13 weeks) we took into towns to get used to noises, traffic, people etc and she was brilliant, totally clam and well behaved. Around a week and half ago we took her into a small town nearby where she has been many times and she was a totally different dog, being very scared of noises, lunging at people passing us, whimpering and trying to run somewhere. A siren passed us, which has happened in the past with no notice by Mabel, but she was a quivering wreck. We felt so upset to see her like this and did a lot of calming her but it had little effect.
We're now stumped as to whether we should go to town with her to help her get over these fears, but we feel so sorry for her we're unsure on this; or should we avoid towns for a while so as not to make it worse and try again in while (the latter also feels the kindest but we want to do the best course of action).
We understand they may get a nervous period around this age as they mature but this is far worse than what we expected. We have also wracked our brains to try and think of anything that might have caused it but there is no nasty event that has happened, in fact always the opposite where she loved town and the attention she gets.
If anyone has any advice/experience we will be grateful - thanks.
 

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Known as "The second fear stage" it affects different dogs indifferent ways. My Lucy was certainly the worst. Chloe certainly showed signs. But at the other end of the spectrum Beth showed no concession to it, breezing through in her usual hooligan manner!

Dont force her, swamping her or the possibility is that she will shut down. Try to avoid the worst situations, reintroducing them to her later when she is more settled. This stage tends to pass in a couple of months or so.

But also another thought for you. At that age she "could" be on the point of coming into season. She is at the early end of the possibility. My Chloe was 5.5 months for the first season, Mandy was at the other end or possibility at 14 months. (Though I have known as early as 4 months and as late as 2 years.) Bitches can often get a bit flaky at that point. Chloe's food bowl was always beside the washing machine, but whenever she was in season she would not go there, and had to be fed in the hall doorway, as far from the washing machine as possible. (I used to blame it on "The ghost under the washing machine!)

Just in case, have a little read of this. It's a little bit I wrote about seasons a while back:-

The first thing to remember is that all bitches feel their seasons differently so making hard and fast rules of both identifying the start and the finish difficult, but saying that, there are plenty of little signs if you know what you are looking for.

Starting at the beginning, if you are around males at all, they can often tip you off up to 6 weeks before by increased interest. Not wild interest but a bit more sniffing of her than usual. I’ve had bitches who get very slap happy in their working on the run up to seasons, not really got their mind on working, but others would work right up to the day! (But by the same token I’ve had bitches who will start working happily the day the season finishes but others who always finish up with a broody 60 days!) You often find bitches will start urinating more just before or during the season, in effect they are scent marking, a sort of, “Hi boys, I’m here!) Add to those symptoms, the vulva swells, usually a few days before the season begins. (Although very occasionally not until the season actually starts.)

OK, I know all that sounds a bit vague, all maybe’s, occasionally’s and sometimes, but such is the nature of ladies! What I’m saying is, look out for the subtle differences, particularly from around 6 months on. As soon as I start to get the feeling that the season is imminent I start on the “Toilet tissue test.” When a bitch is in season she starts losing a bloody discharge from her vulva. In the initial stages there is not a lot of discharge, but when sleeping it collects inside, to drain out when she stands. So shortly after first standing after sleeping I give her vulva a wipe with a toilet tissue. This makes it so much easier to find. But remember, it does take a minute or so to drain out, so don’t be in too much of a hurry to wipe her. The earliest I’ve had a bitch come into season is 5.5 months and the latest 14 months. But those are not the extreme limits. I’ve heard of bitches starting well before 5 months at one end and as late as 2 years at the other extreme. (Though I do wonder when a bitch comes in for the first time at 2 years old, whether the bitch might have had a very mild season earlier which the owner missed?)

The season it’s self lasts for approximately 21 days, although on rare occasions it can drag on for 28 days. The bloody discharge normally builds up during the first week, usually becoming paler and more watery during the second week and at this point the discharge may stop, or might continue for the entire time. But don’t be fooled! Even if it does stop she is still in season and is actually reaching her peak! In fact, if you were mating her then it is the 12th to 14th day when they are usually at their most receptive. Don’t be surprised if she is rather quiet during her season. It is not always the case but some can be very subdued. They often drink heavily. (Natural really when you remember they are losing body fluids.) They also tend towards rather more urinating. It’s all perfectly natural and nothing to worry about.

During the season it’s safer to not take her out, and certainly NEVER off lead. If I do take mine out during the early part of the season I put them in the car and drive a way down the road to break the scent trail back to the house. I walk them on lead around a local industrial estate where I know there will be no other dogs. But I never take them out during the second week to the end of the season. In fact many bitches really don’t want to do much during that time so it’s no great hardship.

It’s never easy to determine the exact end of the season. It’s something which just gradually fades away. Even the swollen vulva does not go down straight away, and in fact never does return to the size it was before the first season started, she is a lady now, not a baby! For this reason it pays to be a little careful when you first go out after a season. I normally take mine out after 21 days, but take them at a time and to a place where I’m not likely to find other dogs. But after 28 days I relax and get back to normal.

So you see, it’s not an exact science. But don’t be frightened of it. The little signs will be there, it’s just that until it happens for the first time you will not really be sure which of the signs will apply to your dog. The thing you will find if you read some of the posts on here is that after the event most are saying that things were far easier than they thought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the reply John, very appreciated. You could be right about her 'maturing' as she has been giving a bit of attention down below which she hasn't done before that we noticed. Having said this, and she is our third female, there are no other signs as yet. We are taking the route of still taking Mabel to town but trying to be gentle as she obviously does not feel comfortable, but does settle down a bit once we are away from traffic. As you suggest we are avoiding busy areas where she might feel swamped, trying to give some gentle exposure. Friends of ours have a female spaniel and said she did similar on the road out of their house but she is now (at age two) fine, so as you say it passes. All we want to do is handle this tricky period as best as we can for Mabel...and us!
Bearing in mind her potential closeness to season period we will keep her on lead a fair bit.
 

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I know it’s possible for seasons to start early but I’ve had 7 females but not one had a season before 10 months. I’d be more inclined to think puppy vaginitis at that age which involves keeping a close eye on and a possible visit to the vets. Being an experienced bitch owner you’ll know the physical signs to look out for in a season.
 

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I know it’s possible for seasons to start early but I’ve had 7 females but not one had a season before 10 months.
You've been lucky Nicola, of my last three, Anna and Amy were 6 months to start and cycled at 6 months, Chloe was 5.5 months and continued to cycle at that. It's a pain in the rear when you need them working, but so is life.
 

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Wow, Pops started at 12 months (exactly on her birthday), the next was 7 months, the most recent 8 months after that. She’s the only entire girl I have now, the other 2 are spayed. When I had 4 entire girls they all pretty much synchronized and cycled every 7 months.
 

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My first bitch went 14 months, and my second 12 months. I thought, "Thats not to onerous!" From then on they got steadily earlier!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
There are no real signs of her season starting, and it is only an occasional inspection that she does so we don't think there is a problem there but will stay aware. We'll keep giving gentle exposure to town situations to try and get through the nervous spell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just as an update, Mabel is slowly regaining her confidence, not quite right yet but quite a bit better than when I wrote the original post. We've just tried to stay calm, continue taking her town and country but giving a bit of reassurance when she gets worried and it seems to be paying off. No physical signs of her season as yet, but she is definitely in the 'teenage' years so I will be posting another thread in 'behaviour'... :oops:
 
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