Poor Dexter seems depressed. He lacks confidence and is scared of many things.

depressed dogThey told me he had Cocker Spaniel and Sharpei in him but I would guess Staffie and Labrador. He has some characteristics I’ve seen in Staffies.

Depressed and shut down

It’s like Dexter is depressed and a bit shut down. A three-year-old should be more enthusiastic. He has had big changes in his life having moved to live with the couple from the young lady’s mothers house. Then he had the company of a GSD that sadly died.

Very likely the company of the other dog gave him reassurance.

In building his confidence I suggest they look at the overall picture and do a number of things a bit differently.

They will help him more with the things that make him anxious, like accompanying him out into the garden. At the same time they will give his life more enrichment.

The value of food

Most especially they will cut down on his food – particularly non-nutritious chews! How can a dog, having eaten three Dentastix (full of rubbish) have an appetite for his nourishing meals?

With food now having more value and Dexter just a little bit more hungry, food will become a useful tool for helping him to gain confidence. This should help make him less depressed.

anxious tongue-flicking

Uneasy having his photo taken

I would also do walks a little differently. As  depressed dog or one lacking in confidence needs to feel that his humans don’t lack confidence as well. How they react on seeing a person or dog is key, as any tension on their part will immediately transfer to Dexter.

They have a list of things to put in place over the next two or three weeks – some simple and some a bit harder. Let’s see how it goes. Added together they should help him to become less depressed and a bit more enthusiastic for life.

Ten months later: “Thought it would be nice to update you on Dexter. He’s been so much better since your help, seems like a different dog to the one you met last year due to his plan. He met the mini poodle puppy (the one who’s brother he attacked and we had to take back)  and it was absolutely fine. He was seeing him regularly, they are friends. He also was introduced to Wilson, no issues. In fact, they get on amazingly well. They love to play together. He’s much better with other dogs as well and a lot less nervous in his everyday life.
Overall we’re extremely happy with the progress we’ve all made since last year.”

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV can do more harm than good sometimes. Every dog is different and every situation is different. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Behaviour and Support page)