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Am I doing enough/Is my dog happy?

(10 Posts)
mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 19:59:40

we live in a flat we do have a garden though but need to go out to it and tbh it is a postage stamp jaydog is fine not as big as a mastiff mind you I am sure your dog is a happy girl just likes to plod about as i said before

bittenipples Thu 11-Jul-13 16:04:33

Okay, I feel relieved now. I appreciate your comments, I just needed to run the situation past some other dog lovers just to make sure i hadnt missed something obvious! Im glad you all think that being in a flat is okay, provided its balanced with lots of outings and indoor play, I guess it was that, that was really bothering me.

Again, I really appreciate your feedback!

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 12:00:08

A woman near me has 2 bullmastiffs they are lovely but always look aloof and not that bothered about anything tbh I have known this woman for years since dd2 was in nursery (kids are now 15) and she has always had mastiffs and they always look a bit sad and not over bothered some dogs look happier than others, doesn't mean they are it sounds like your dog is happy to just plod along and do its own thing and going to the big garden is lovely but it is just somewhere else for it to be, doesn't mean it is sad ,

tabulahrasa Thu 11-Jul-13 11:52:54

That's the thing, gardens are nice to have, but they're not vital for an adult dog (I have no idea how you housetrain a puppy without one, lol, but barring that)

If she was in kennels for a year, even watching you drinking tea is more entertaining than being sat alone, there are games you can play with food like hiding bits and getting her to find them by scent, you could try clicker training, when mine was on house rest I taught him to play dead, empty the washing machine and the names of some toys...but he's a busy puppy, I genuinely doubt she's really bored.

mistlethrush Thu 11-Jul-13 11:16:08

If she's food obsessed can you put more of her food in things that make her use her brain - there are special toys for this (My dog's too stupid!). I wouldn't take sighs to mean she's unhappy - dogs can sign with contentment too. Re the sitting up suddenly - we had a dog that did this right until she died at 14 - she had been so badly treated before we got her that she had to remember she was safe for you to stroke her without flinching - we ended up just gently talking to her before stroking her if she was asleep and this helped. To be honest, she sounds as though she has a great home - full of love and care, the right amount of exercise. Perhaps she would like a garden - but we can't always give our dogs (or indeed our children- my dog and my DS would like a country estate to tear round if possible, but they make do with what we have grin) 100% of what they would like in an ideal world.

tabulahrasa Thu 11-Jul-13 11:07:48

I don't see how she could be bored getting out that often, I honestly think you're reading things into what she does that just aren't anything.

The only thing I can think of if she definitely has off days is to look at her painkillers, my pup has elbow dysplasia and I can tell when he's having a sorer day, but he also often looks at me and sighs, but he's often looking at me and he sighs every time he settles down, so I'm pretty sure it's just the noise he makes rather than having any emotion behind it.

bittenipples Thu 11-Jul-13 09:59:12

Thankyou both for replying. tabulahrasa I previously had a rescue boxer which had a similiar head shape and Im sure he wasnt as 'downhearted' But you're right about the breed, she has perfected the 'bambi' eye look! She seems sad by her behaviour and demeanour - and it depends on the day. She sighs a lot. She also turns her back to me? Sometimes she sits very tightly in the corner with her back to us, which seems strange. My other dogs never did this. When I move, (for instance reach for my mug of tea), she sits bolt upright or lifts her head upright like she is expecting me to do something and when i dont, she goes back to lying down and puts her head on the floor and sighs.

I know this sounds crazy but is it possible for a dog to have something similiar to depression or bipolar? <sort of semi joking> as some days she is fine and others she is acts like she has the world on her shoulders - actually, maybe I am over interpreting this.

SyraCusa Thankyou for your reassurance, I needed that! I definitely am i a bit neurotic when it comes to guardianship of animals. I bonded intensly with my previous dog when I was childless and I think my relationship with my current dog is just different, and as I have a child now, I feel guilty about splitting attention.

I guess if you both think what I'm doing is enough, I'll be happy with it, it must just be her personality, she was 5 when we got her and she had been in rescue kennels for over a year, so i think she has had weary life?


SyraCusa Thu 11-Jul-13 03:21:48

OP, just wanted to say you sound like a really lovely dog owner. From your post you sound like you are doing absolutely the best for her - helping her slowly get over her fear-aggression is a massive deal, well done. She is an older dog, and the amount of exercise and attention she is getting sounds perfect to me.

Your post struck a bit of a chord with me as I can be a bit neurotic. I've been a bit down lately, and my dog has seemed sleepy and lethargic - I was really fretting that I was failing her, but felt much better when my dog-mentor friend said, 'mine are the same, it's because of the heat.' It's obviously important to be sensitive and attentive to our dogs, but I think sometimes we can over-interpret and project our own feelings (ie. feeling 'cooped up in the flat' - you give her lots of walks, she probably enjoys the chill time in her home and is more active at your parents' as its a new place to explore).

tabulahrasa Wed 10-Jul-13 19:33:16

Why do you think she's sad? I mean what does she do?

My Rottie (different breed, but similar head shape) does sad face massively well, it's just how his wrinkles go though, lol

He also likes to come and rest his head on my knee, I take it as affection tbh. He also isn't keen on getting the top of his head stroked, but will practically keel over in delight if you rub his throat.

bittenipples Wed 10-Jul-13 17:27:41

Sorry this is epic - I just would like a chat about my dogs welfare smile

My dog (old bull mastiff) seems sad all the time and I always have this guilt concerning her. She is an old rescue and I guess she has always seemed a bit sad. Unfortunately we all live in a small flat, me, my dp and 9mo ds, its above a pub and she gets to go down to the pub in the late evening before her last walk.

Every 6 weeks or so my dog gets to have a few weeks 'holiday' at my parents house, which she adores - she seems happy there! She has several acres of garden and a large house to wander around offlead and her own sofa there.

Anyway when she is back at the flat, we take her out for 5 shortish walks a day - they are between 10 and 40 mins long - she always gets one 40 min walk a day, the rest are shorter. Her back legs are weak (she has painkillers) and she cant really handle longer - very slow walker. We cannot let her off the lead as she is very fear aggressive towards other dogs. She now sits and waits (very alert and tense) for a treat whereas before she used to go beserk on the end of the lead, so i think we have done well there. Basically she cannot be let off the lead where other dogs may be, so we walk her round houses and small quiet parks.

Whenever I pass her I always say hello and try and stroke her, she gets cuddles but she turns her head away sometimes, so I leave it, sometimes she puts her head in my lap with a sigh - I just cant work her out!

She gets fed 2 cups of dry food a day - I put half of this in a Kong or scatter/hide the biscuits around the flat so she has to sniff them out, this gives her something to stimulate her brain a bit when she is indoors. she is food obseesed, if I play with her, she jumps up and goes to kitchen and expects food? she puts on weight easily so i have to watch her on this.

I am a bit unsure about signals - Ive read that panting, yawning and licking of chops means that a dog is uncomfortable, but she play bows and yawns when it is time for her to go for a walk, also when we look at each other we exchange a 'slow eye close' and a 'small lick of the lips' to each other blush and this has always been a sort of 'are you alright?' kind of exchange - have i been getting that wrong?

She doesnt love the baby, not aggressive but she moves away, which is fine, I always position myself between the two of them, if he is playing nearby and I go and stroke her and reassure her so she has a positve association. If I'm holding him, she will give a small lick on his toes sometimes. I wont let him touch or go near her until he is old enough to know how to be around dogs - it is hard in a small flat but she needs her space.

I know she hates being cooped up in the flat, but so do I! I always have this feeling that Ive let her down, I've had dogs all my life and i know a sad dog when I see one. We got her when she was 5 or 6 about 4 years ago, so she is old and I have no idea about her previous history. She is a lovely dog, she is rarely left alone.

Is this enough? Am I doing enough to keep her happy? Why does she seem so sad?

Thanks for reading this far.

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