Your faithful, four-legged companion has been a constant source of affection since day one. He comes when you call him, smothers you with sloppy kisses, and greets you with wild enthusiasm every time you walk through the door.
So what does it mean if your ever-present sidekick suddenly starts to avoid you or won’t let you pet him? The experts at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital hope to help you understand your dog’s conduct so you can patch things up with your favorite canine.
First, think back to when your dog stopped being affectionate, and then consider some of the following circumstances that could have triggered his new behavior:
Something in His Environment Changed
A sudden change in his surroundings could cause him to suddenly avoid you or even make him depressed. Did you move, introduce a new person or pet, or make drastic changes to your home? Just the presence of strange noises can cause anxiety in some dogs.
He Isn’t Feeling Well
When a dog who is normally very social suddenly becomes reclusive, a call to your veterinarian is warranted. If your dog seems lethargic, has trouble moving about, or has lost his appetite, he could be in pain or suffering from a medical condition that is making him uncomfortable. The only way to know for sure is to schedule a full physical examination with appropriate diagnostics.
You’ve Been Acting Differently
Could your dog be reacting to changes in your own mood or behavior? Another possibility if you’re typically in charge of disciplining your dog is that you reacted loudly or aggressively to something that he did, and this is causing him to withdraw from you.
He Needs More Exercise
Dogs can become withdrawn when they’re lacking physical exercise and/or mental stimulation. Regular exercise keeps your dog healthier, reduces his stress, and provides opportunities for the two of you to nurture your special bond.
Constructive Ways to Rebuild Trust
Once you’ve ruled out health-based reasons for your dog’s behavioral changes, you can start to rebuild your connection, being cautious not to force any interactions with your dog. Start slowly by simply offering him a treat when he sits next to you, and make time for doing the things he loves, like playing fetch or taking leisurely strolls. Keep your communication with him gentle and encouraging.
Use Positive, Reward-Based Training
In addition to seeking professional training for your dog, there are fear-free strategies you can use at home to communicate more effectively with him. This time spent one-on-one with your dog can help you rebuild a loving bond while boosting his confidence, keeping him mentally stimulated, and showing him that he’s worthy of your undivided attention.
At Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital, our goal is to promote the physical and emotional wellbeing of every patient and owner who walks through our doors. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (732) 531-1212 if you have questions about your dog or to schedule an appointment.