I came across this topic a couple weeks and wow it is bizarre. At this point, I thought I had read or googled everything dog related. I am no expert- just that adage “I’ve seen it all.” Nope. Dog trancing. What now?
Trancing, also called ghost-walking or weed-walking is when your dog walks under low hanging branches, bushes, maybe a tablecloth, clothes in the closet, in a very slow purposeful manner to feel that tickle along their back. It appears as if they are in a trance, hence trancing. It does not have to do with scent, but with that feel on their backs. It is not a seizure as the dog is conscious and you can interrupt the trance or call them out of it to normal activity. Watch this video of trancing here and here. You can see the difference in the dog’s demeanor after he/she is done walking.
It seems to be the consensus that this is not a neurological problem. It has the potential to be classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder (like tail chasing or flank sucking), but this is not proven- it seems to be a condition all its own. It is surprisingly common in Bull Terriers an Greyhounds. One study indicated that as many as 63% of Bull Terriers trance. Other common breeds include Basset Hounds, Salukis, and Whippets.
It should be noted that there was one source that stated if you interrupted or tried to remove a Bull Terrier from its trance they were prone to attack. I found no support for this, and actually another source that specifically stated this was false, as this was not a neurological condition. I can attest to that- when Reggie first started having seizures we didn’t know what they were- being psychomotor seizures they look abnormal- and I tried to restrain him one time and I got bit. Completely different situation.
I also found another source that likened this to a form of canine autism. Before you laugh, hear it out. In human autism (understanding that there is a sliding scale on the autism spectrum), there are trance-like or repetitive behaviors such as rocking, hand weaving, crib chewing, etc. These equivalent behaviors have been seen in various animals and the author is proposing that the animal has developed these behaviors to protect itself from (perceived) systemic catastrophe. Fascinating, but no evidence or studies to support it. And no one else in the community appears to buy into it. Mainly because everyone says the dogs seem to like it.
I learned something new this week and I love that! Hope you did too. Happy trancing!