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Canine Behavior/Dog acting very strange


Thank you in advance for your response.

I have a 3 and a half year old, female, Poodle/American Eskimo mix. I've had her since she was 8 weeks old. She was last at the vet about 4 months ago, and that was for a limp which she was given an anti inflammatory for. Other than that, everything else seemed fine.

Lately (past few weeks), I keep finding her laying/sleeping in my closet. She does this quite frequently. Also, I've been finding her laying on my bed in my room by herself. This is extremely out of character for her. She's always followed me around *everywhere* since the day I got her. If I'm in the living room then so is she. Wherever I am, she has always been...except for recently. She seems to be spending a lot of time alone. Sometimes when I call her she doesn't come, sometimes she won't get off the bed to go outside. It's so unusual. She still lays on the bed with me at night when I sleep so that part hasn't changed.

Why could she be doing this? I'm a little concerned about it. She doesn't seem sick (no vomiting, diarrhea etc) so I'm stumped. What can I do? She almost seems sad.
If it matters I am 9 months pregnant with our 2nd baby, but I'm not sure if that's relevant. We haven't moved. We're planning to move very soon but surely she can't know that. She is the only pet. She still has the same appetite. Her energy level also seems to have changed though, she's not quite as playful.

Thank you again!

First: you need the expertise of a veterinary behaviorist.  Perhaps your dog is suffering side effects of the medication OR she might have a more esoteric condition that requires the evaluation of an expert.  Although I suggest you start with looking for a veterinary behaviorist, a veterinary internist is just as acceptable.  These experts do not take dogs unless another veterinarian refers the dog to them.  Either way, you will need a full history of veterinary interaction: vaccinations, medications, test results, etc.  It appears to me that your dog is demonstrating a reaction to pain.  Is she eating??  Dogs very rarely change behavior patterns in such a manner as to make themselves appear "helpless", this is quite unusual, so first stop very qualified veterinarian.  You can find a veterinary behaviorist hopefully from the following sites or call the veterinary college in your geographical area and ask for referral, and ask them for a veterinary internist, also:

Yes dogs DO know when we (female humans) are "pregnant" because of the hormones involved.  While I have seen dogs react to this, it is quite rare.  She may be responding to your own mood (nine months pregnant is VERY pregnant, I know!) but I would take the precaution of a full and expert veterinary evaluation, especially of the medication she's on.  All medications have side effects (even OTC medications).

Second: planning to move...most likely you will know where you're going far enough in advance to allow the dog to accompany you on excursions while you measure for drapes, drop off stuff, etc. so she can slowly habituate to the new location.  Not only will she have to habituate to a total change of environment, but to the presence of an "unknown" entity: your newborn.  This is quite a lot for a dog to experience at once but it can be done.

Use followup feature to report any findings by the veterinarian.  Meanwhile, don't "coddle" her or attempt to cajole her.  You may inadvertently be either rewarding her behavior or making it worse.  If she won't come when called, calmly go to her.  No direct eye contact, keep a low profile, and don't allow her to jump OFF anything (if this is orthopedic, which it very well may be, this sort of behavior has to be minimized).

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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