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I have a 5 y/o dog that I raised from 8 weeks. From the start, I fed him, played with him, pet and praised him and taught him commands, gave him treats. He has always been a little timid/excitable and never truly bonded with us as deeply as our other dog (who passed away almost 2 months ago at 12 y/o). I must mention that he did not get along with our other dog and, for their safety, we kept them separated constantly and had a routine we lived by for years. It seemed the 5 y/o preferred me as he would come to me for “protection”, when he did not feel safe or for petting. He was never much of a snuggler.

6 months ago, we bought a new home. Since moving, I noticed a change in him. He no longer gave me the time of day, sometimes to the point, where he would leave the room to be by himself or anyone rather than me. A few weeks after our other dog passed, he seems to have adjusted and is a little more relaxed, but I cannot seem to remotely get back to how we were together. Recently, we had a guest stay for 2 weeks and he was glued to her; slept with her in bed, lay his head on her side and he has NEVER done that with me. What am I doing wrong? I truly miss the deep bond I had with our other dog and more than anything just want him to trust me.
 

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I don't have expectations of him. I am trying to understand why his behavior has changed, specifically towards me,, and what I can do to make him more comfortable.
 

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Hi. Welcome to the forum.

You've been through a lot. You've moved house and lost your other dog, in a relatively short period of time. First the stress if the move, and then the death of the other dog, that you admit you were closer to. You've had a lot on your mind.

Your dog has gone through all that too, but with far less understanding than you have. Suddenly that safe person he knew is burdened by stress and grief. She's not acting the same.

Then this guest arrives, who has none of this baggage. She's not stressed from the move, she never smelled the same as you did, and she's probably not grieving her own dog. She's like a fun aunt who's come to stay for a while and lets him sleep on her side or beside her in the bed. She was a novelty.

You say he's started to adjust in the last few weeks. What's he doing differently?

You probably won't ever have the closeness with this dog as you did with your previous one. It sounds as though, in general, that's not who he is, and you'll have to accept that.

But given time, there's no reason why you won't have what you shared before with him.

I think you both just need some time. :)
 

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Hi. Welcome to the forum.

You've been through a lot. You've moved house and lost your other dog, in a relatively short period of time. First the stress if the move, and then the death of the other dog, that you admit you were closer to. You've had a lot on your mind.

Your dog has gone through all that too, but with far less understanding than you have. Suddenly that safe person he knew is burdened by stress and grief. She's not acting the same.

Then this guest arrives, who has none of this baggage. She's not stressed from the move, she never smelled the same as you did, and she's probably not grieving her own dog. She's like a fun aunt who's come to stay for a while and lets him sleep on her side or beside her in the bed. She was a novelty.

You say he's started to adjust in the last few weeks. What's he doing differently?

You probably won't ever have the closeness with this dog as you did with your previous one. It sounds as though, in general, that's not who he is, and you'll have to accept that.

But given time, there's no reason why you won't have what you shared before with him.

I think you both just need some time. :)
Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. As far as the adjustment, he has been a bit more relaxed since our other dog died. He is no longer constantly on high alert (they got into 3 bad scraps over the years). He even walks around with his tail relaxed.

I am not looking for the same connection as my last dog (that was very special). I just want him to be comfortable around me, which at times, it feels like he is not. It is important to me that he feels safe and very loved. He seems to be very comfortable around others and he used to be like that with me.
 

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It's just an idea, I don't know if it will work - but how about trying a new activity with him? Like scentwork or training some tricks? Do you use a clicker? My dog gets super excited when he sees the clicker because he knows we are going to do fun stuff together.

Shout out if you want any pointers or suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I welcome the suggestions. I can certainly try something new. I have been getting him a lot of new toys lately (mainly because he is obsessed with play and I thought it would be an easy bonding activity for us. Perhaps, I will switch our focus to a new trick.
 
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