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Depressed Dog?

Depressed DogHi John,

We have a very nice well-behaved 3 year old dog named Mabel. We also have an almost one-year-old yellow lab named Daisy. Since Daisy arrived Mabel’s behaviour has changed.  She has turned into what seems like an “old lady”.  She has lost all of her “zip” and playfulness and looks sad often.

We wondered if she likes Daisy at all, but she seemed sad and very concerned the day Daisy was away getting spayed and was glad to see her when she came back. Daisy is a very “vocal” dog, full of excess energy.

We make sure we praise Mabel and pet her as often as possible, but she still looks sad and retreats to her crate often.  Daisy is a “nipper”, in an effort to get Mabel to play or start a game of chase, and it seems to annoy Mabel rather than have the desired effect.  However, Mabel sometimes takes advantage of Daisy being more tired at the end of the day and initiates a play fight the same way.

Will they become better buddies when Daisy turns into a young adult?  Should we put a muzzle on Daisy to curb the nipping? –Catherine B.

Hi Catherine,

Lots of older dogs would give a rammy puppy like yours a good symbolic thumping and that would be the end of that. It doesn’t wreck the relationship it just replaces, “We’re going to play right now whether you like it or not.” with “Pardon me elder. Would you consider a romp around the yard? Pardon me for disturbing you. Maybe another time.” However other dogs like Mabel just don’t have it in them to say “No!” and unfortunately they end up wearing the puppy like a rash and enjoying it about as much.

Slow Daisy down and Mabel will be able to cope better. A muzzle won’t help. It would just replace nipping with poking. Have Daisy drag a leash and supervise her like you would a 2 year old child around a wealthy grumpy “old lady” that hasn’t quite decided whether you should be in the will or not. Any time Daisy takes a run at Mabel, use the leash to get her attention and give her a piece of what Mabel should be giving her a piece of. Use the crate as well when you need to. Mabel needs a break and Daisy needs to learn some manners.

You’ve noted that Mabel is more receptive to play in the evening, then make that play time for now. Let Mabel instigate though. If you can, sand the edges off Daisy in advance. Run her around the yard, play fetch etc. Anything to take the starch out of her before Mabel and she play.

A daily half hour run helps a depressed dog get out of it’s slump. A special chew toy as well. Something that holds their attention for more then 10 minutes seems to melt away stress as well. Just keep it in the cupboard and bring it out as needed and then put it right back.

You can get a sense of stress level by offering a treat you know she loves. If she eats it, whether she likes the pup or not, she’s coping. If she doesn’t and none of the above is helping you should call in a pro to do an assessment. Some dogs are not suited to a multi dog household. I doubt that’s the case here. We just need to give the “old lady” some breathing room before you get cut out of the will.


-John Wade the Dog Trainer 

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