Sudden changes in dog behavior are always troubling, but a sudden avoidance is especially so. Dogs are meant to be our close companions. When they don’t want to be near us, something may be seriously wrong. Why is your dog acting so distant? A few things could be the root cause that soured your dog’s usually friendly demeanor. Here are a few things you should consider before heading to the experts, veterinarians and behaviorists.
Anxious dogs avoid the source of their anxiety. If you’ve made them anxious by accident, they may be avoiding you. However, it’s more likely that your dog is avoiding a source of anxiety near you. For example, if you recently installed a new fan in the bedroom, and your dog won’t come to sleep in the bedroom anymore, they could simply be afraid of the fan—not you.
When anxiety is the root cause of your dog’s change of behavior, it’s best to watch them closely. Finding out when your dog acts differently is the key to figuring out what is causing them anxiety. At what time of day do they act distant, in what room, or with which people? Also, try to remember if you’ve made any changes in their environment around when the time they became anxious.
Fear & Trauma
Traumatic events may have caused a fear response in your dog, which may cause them to avoid you or other people. Extremely traumatic events may make your dog feel unsafe around you, even if you had nothing to do with it. Examples of traumatic events include: getting hit by a car, getting attacked by another dog, getting abused by a human, and more.
If your dog is acting fearful, but you can’t recall a traumatic event, it may have happened when you weren’t around. Did you recently leave the dog with another person, or could they have had a traumatic experience while at home alone? In this case, it’s best to consult the professionals.
Dogs try to hide their pain from humans, in part because they fear increased pain if they are touched. So, a dog that is acting withdrawn may be in pain. Some dogs, especially senior dogs, may have pain that flares up, so they may appear withdrawn some days and fine the others. You should also keep an eye out for a dog that is more withdrawn after exercise, as that may mean that exercise is triggering some kind of injury.
Pain that is so bad that it merits a dog withdrawing from you is certainly something you should bring up to your vet. When their pain is resolved or under control, your dog should return to normal.
Dogs can develop psychological conditions, such as depression and anxiety, just as humans do. For example, dogs may feel depressed if a person or pet they care about died if they moved homes, or for a number of other reasons. In this case, it may be challenging to help your dog through their mood disorder without professional help.
If your dog is acting distant suddenly, it is wise to reach out first to a vet and then to a professional trainer.