You are here:

Canine Behavior/Aloof and uninterested rescue dog


Dwebby wrote at 2012-10-28 20:28:44
My American Cocker Spaniel is also independant and aloof.  He was a rescue from a puppy mill and when I first met him at the local shelter (i was and still am a volunteer at the shelter)he was a terrified, timid, shut down 6 month old.  It took everything just to get close enough to him to slip a leash on him.  He wouldn't budge, just cowered in the corner of the kennel.  I sat with him for a bit and eventually carried him outside and put him down on the grass.  He went down on his belly and didn't move for the next fifteen minutes.  I laid down in the grass at the full end of the leash and gently talked to him until finally he started edging towards me, crawling on his belly in a very submissive way, and relaxed just a little.  After a great deal of patience I was able to convince him to let me lead him on the leash.  Very gently, very patiently, and very encouragingly I would coax him to take a few more feet.  That was 3 and a half years ago!  I adopted him about two days after meeting him in the shelter. He is now very confident, great with people and dogs, but yes he is aloof and sometimes seems a little indifferent towards me.  He doesn't get extremely excited when I leave or come home and often doesn't greet me at the door.  Attention he accepts on his own terms and when he feels like it.  He likes the dog park and like your first responder's dog he will do his own thing but will check back to see if I am around.  I too have wondered at times if he finds me boring and that is why he seems so aloof.  However I love him dearly and we have developed a unique but extemely strong bond...well at least as far as I am concerned!  My point is that often rescue dogs develop unusual personality traits simply due to their early environment and socialization or lack thereof. I accept his aloof nature, I embrace his  unique personality, and I understand that his start in life may very well explain his peculiarities.  I don't take any of it personally and I accept greatfully any  measure of affection he is able to share.  I also found out early that the more I tried to force my idea of affection on him the less successful I was.  Just like when I first met him, I have had to allow him to set the pace and come to me on his terms.  He is right now sitting at the end of the chair with his head on my foot!  I have often thought that this dog is so content with just having a warm bed to sleep in, shelter from the cold, food, and company (even if on his terms) that he is simply content and happy just to laze around in the security of knowing that I'll always be there for him. He simply doesn't have much to say and doesn't need to demand any extra attention.  I love him unconditionally and I believe that in his own unique way he loves me just the same.  I hope you are patient with your boy! He may well turn out to be the best dog you could ever hope to have.  I am sure that you will one day have a great bond with him, but like me, you may have to adjust your my not be the "stereotypical" relationship you had in mind when you first adopted him but it may be just as strong if not stronger!!  I have had many, many dogs in my life; many we're constantly demanding of my attention! To the point that it was at times a little annoying.  My Cocker is a nice change...he doesn't demand anything from me, he just coexists and I find myself more than ok with that!!  I wish you all the best!!

Canine Behavior

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

©2017 All rights reserved.