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Dog withdrawn, depressed?

Barksducks
January 2nd, 2011, 06:06 PM
Hello everyone.

We are a two-child family (two boys, 12 and 9) with a Jack Russell/Cavalier King Charles mix. We live in Toronto, but we got Charlot when we were living in France, in January of 2008. He was about six months old when we got him and he had been fostered from the age of three months after being taken away from his original owner by his neighbour. We were told that the neighbour was alcoholic and had been neglecting the puppy, but I don't believe Charlot had ever been hit.

As a puppy, he was playful, excitable, and fun. We had a big backyard in France that he had access to all the time. There were some local dogs that he really loved. He was not fixed and he remains unfixed. (I know. We're bad.)

We came home to Canada in August 2009. He adjusted pretty well, loving the neighbourhood and the local parks. He made new dog friends. We were very pleased with his adjustments.

We live in a three-storey house, the top floor of which is my office. I'm the dad of the house, and Charlot has always been strongly identified with me. My wife says he's obsessed with me. I'm often home alone during the day and he stays with me in the office, lying on the bed, and I take him out a couple of times during the day. He gets four walks in total during the day, including morning and night walks. He's great on the walks, very responsive to commands, and generally friendly.

Starting about eight months ago, we noticed that when everyone is home, he prefers to remain in my office. If we block access to those stairs, he stays in the master bedroom, which is as far away from where we usually are as possible. He will not come when called unless we call him down for a "pee-pee" or a walk. If everyone but me leaves for some reason, he'll come downstairs and stick around me. But the voices of my sons returning home, even from outside the house, will send him immediately upstairs. He does not appear to want to have anything to do with family life at all. Some days his breakfast remains untouched until after the household goes to sleep and he'll eat the one meal that day.

He seems particularly spooked by my youngest, who used to be pretty unpredictable towards Charlot, but never violent. The household itself can get pretty loud with two adults and two preadolescents, and he appears to really dislike raised voices. If I'm lying in bed reading in the afternoon, the dog will lie with me or near me, but if I call to one of my sons, even in a friendly voice, he immediately jumps off the bed and goes upstairs. Our household is not an abnormal one in any wayŚwe are a happy family with normal conflicts.

I don't know if getting him fixed would be a good thing for his mood, but some days I don't know what to do with him. I know he should go to the vet, but regular check-ups show him to be a healthy animal. He is the correct weight, and when he's not behaving anxious or withdrawn, he's the dog he once was. We love him, but we're worried and don't know what to do. Any advice?

Michael

t.pettet
January 2nd, 2011, 07:04 PM
For you to witness your son's interaction with the dog why not set up a secret videocam then you'll know for sure how your son responds to him.

rainbow
January 2nd, 2011, 07:23 PM
I don't know if getting him fixed would be a good thing for his mood, but some days I don't know what to do with him. I know he should go to the vet, but regular check-ups show him to be a healthy animal. He is the correct weight, and when he's not behaving anxious or withdrawn, he's the dog he once was. We love him, but we're worried and don't know what to do. Any advice?

Michael

Welcome to pets.ca Michael :thumbs up

When was the last time he was at the vet? Did you mention all this to him/her? What was the response? Were any tests done?

I don't think neutering him would affect his mood but it certainly would be a lot better for his health. :)

Barksducks
January 3rd, 2011, 06:18 PM
For you to witness your son's interaction with the dog why not set up a secret videocam then you'll know for sure how your son responds to him.

And if I see something I don't like, what do you recommend? Guantanamo?

luckypenny
January 3rd, 2011, 07:44 PM
:lightbulb: They take teenage boys??? *running to pack my sons' bags* :laughing:.

Any change in behavior warrants an in depth vet check...blood tests and thorough check of back, hips, knees, ankles, belly, teeth, ears, etc. If you're not planning on breeding him, then a neuter may be a good idea, especially if you're taking him out to mingle/play with other dogs.

As for your boys, well, we've had fosters that weren't very fond of mine for reasons unknown to us. Ever since we've had dogs in our home, I would remind our sons of what is and isn't appropriate play. Until recently, (they're 14 and 20 now) any interaction between them was always supervised.

Perhaps a talk with your boys about proper handling eg. safe/gentle ways to pick up your dog, play with him, etc. might be a good idea. In addition, I'd have your sons hand feed Charlot all his meals for a little while. They can also offer him yummy treats or his favorite toys as they enter a room where he is. The idea is to re-condition Charlot to associate the boys with positive feelings so he won't be so likely to avoid them in the future. I'd also pay attention to any friends your sons may have over. Although your guys may know how to behave responsibly, not all children do.