Lonely dog ideas

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Talithahorse, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. Talithahorse

    Talithahorse Songster

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    Bear with me as I explain the situation fully.

    Many years ago I had a husky mix dog and her son. She was old (10) and had never ever been by herself. Her son passed away suddenly due to uncontrollable seizures. My old female was heartbroken and overcome with grief. She began trying to escape her pen and I was terribly afraid that she would run off and be lost, I can only assume looking for her long lost son. The best solution at that time for the dog (not me) was to get her a friend and quickly. My parents had rescued a pup which showed up on their doorstep and so he came to live with us (temporarily supposedly). At the time I had young children, a long commute, and other things on my plate leaving me very little time to properly train the pup. He did well in his pen as an outside dog with his stall, heated bed, friend and lots of space to run. Fast forward several years and my old female passed away (at 17). Now after living solo (with my daughters small inside dog sharing a fence line) and lots of attention from my son, for 3 or 4 years, he has suddenly begun to show signs of loneliness. He is now close to 12 years old and I want to give him the greatest quality of life. I cannot bring him inside as he is not cat friendly and I have my elderly aunt's cats which I took in when she could no longer care for them. The small dog is too small to handle the winters outside. They get along well with a fence between them but my dog (Scrounge) had a habit of grabbing my other dog (a yellow dog we had for a little while) by the neck. He never drew blood but sometimes his play was a little rough. He never grabbed my old female husky by the neck. I don't want to risk him hurting my daughter's dog (25lbs) since he is considerably bigger (80lbs). Eventually I want to get another dog but I want to take the time to train it up properly to get along with cats, chickens, kids and other dogs. As a teacher, summers offer more time to train up a pup.

    I have a couple of options.

    1. build him a dog house which can sit underneath my window (where he sleeps all summer when the weather is not cold or wet) so that he can sleep closer to us even in bad weather. He currently sleeps in a huge stall in my barn which is about 100 feet from the house. (with heated bed, fan, and all the comforts of any spoiled dog)

    2. Get another outside dog (theoretically to also warn me if something is into my chickens. Which was Scrounge's job before he decided he was retired about a year ago). This dog would spend nights and days with Scrounge but would come inside often enough to become comfortable with being inside, cats, etc. With the idea that when Scrounge crosses Rainbow bridge the new dog can then move inside.

    3. Get an inside dog which is just big enough to also spend time with him, meaning this dog would be with him during the day and then inside at night. (will he be okay nights solo, when this has been part of the problem which leads me to believe he is lonely)

    4. Try to train this old (12 year old) dog to accept small critters such as cats as well as be able to play with my daughters small dog under supervision.

    I might add that I am experienced dog owner but that my situation is that I don't have huge amounts of time to train (30 min daily tops, longer on some weekends but not every weekend). Also if I do get another dog, What suggestions for breeds, breed types? My biggest concern for a puppy is that during the school year, we are gone for up to 9 hours a day. They would have access to a stall and a huge fenced yard (or a screened in porch with a heated bed for winter and a fan during summer and a huge yard) depending on which current dog she lives with, while we are gone and lots of love and attention in the evenings. My children are older 12 and 16 so I don't have to worry about young kids but we do have 4 old cats.

    Any input that would help me make an educated decision would help. I do NOT want to get back in a vicious cycle of only being able to keep the dog outside or to have to worry if a cat accidentally gets into the pen, etc.



    Thanks for the input,
     
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  2. AlleysChicks

    AlleysChicks Enabler

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    I honestly wouldn’t get another dog to keep him company. You’ll just keep the cycle going. Mom/pup, then Mom and new pup, now just that old pup. Even if you would keep the new one inside and just let it out during the day, it wouldn’t be enough for your current dog. That’s like taking his friend away and punishing him.

    I would go with option 1 and add spending more time with him. He’s lonely and probably seeks your companionship.
    And if he doesn’t like small critters now after all these years, you probably can’t make him like them(option 4).
     
  3. Talithahorse

    Talithahorse Songster

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    Thanks. That was my first thought years ago when we lost our female. We did redo our fencing which allows us easier access to his pen and my son has said that he will begin doing his homework out there as soon as it is warm enough. I think that the winter with our brutal cold (that us southerners aren't used to) forced him to spend more time on his heated bed and he felt a bit isolated. Also my daughter's dog spent less time outside during all the snow days so that further isolated him. I have been making bone broth to give him an extra nutritional boost and warm him up from the inside as well as his extra coat to keep him warmer at night. I guess I just feel guilty that he can't come in and want him to know he is loved. In the summer I usually keep the window cracked so he feels close to us. I just don't know that we can get a dog house to be as comfortable in winter as his stall. I guess we will build fancy (as soon as it warms up a little bit)
     
  4. AlleysChicks

    AlleysChicks Enabler

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    I was just thinking, I know you have the cats inside but is there a place you could block off for him in the house? Just to spend a bit of time inside?

    The backdoor at my aunts house was in the kitchen and she put a gate up at the kitchen/living room area. So her dog was able to come inside. She didn’t have cats but she did have a toddler with small toys at the time lol
     
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  5. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

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    as others have said, there is a self-perpetuating quality to simply getting another outdoor dog. But there are several ways of getting the current old dog inside the house, even if he dislikes cats.

    1) start bringing him in for short periods of time. You are probably only going to be able to have him inside when he is crated or confined to a certain "dog safe" room anyway when you aren't directly there to supervise. A dog doesn't need to be "cat friendly" to live easily in a home with cats.
    However, you are also going to have to accept that, at his age, having lived entirely outside he might not WANT to live inside. Maybe go in for visits but that's likely going to be it. Some, of course, move right into the house without a backyard glance.
    When you are directly there to watch him, put him on leash and tie him to you. Leaving the cats free-roam of the house and plenty of room to stay as far (or as close) to the dog as they are comfortable with. Let him get used to the sights and motions of the house in small doses and even better from inside a crate or a quiet room at the edge of all the activity. That way he can watch the comings and goings of life without having to be directly involved.
    If you see him lookking at the cats, correct and redirect with a "leave it". Most dogs will at least learn to ignore the cats in your presence. If not, you simply have "dog friendly areas" of the house and "cat friendly" areas. A lot, of course, will depend on the layout of your house.
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender

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    What behaviors make you think he's lonely?

    We tried bringing our older hound in the house during his last year's. He was fine during the day but at night he wanted back to his pen. Your older dog may not appreciate being moved elsewhere. Dogs don't like change, you may cause more anxiety by moving him.
     
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  7. Talithahorse

    Talithahorse Songster

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    It all seemed to start when the neighbor dog actually dug INTO his pen. I knew the fence was in bad shape and we had talked about replacing it when we found the neighbor dog in the pen. The neighbor dog was an intact male (my male is neutered). Despite this there was no bloodshed. I think this reminded him of when he had friends that lived with him. We did replace the fence in such a way that his pen backs up to the inside dog's pen better and that he can actually has more contact with the house. We also added some gates making it easier to enter his pen. He spends most of his days outside, near the house, often sleeping at night under our bedroom window sill. The problem was that we have had a very brutal winter (for the south anyway) and so we had several days where it was below freezing. Despite a blanket and a heated bed he was trying to sleep under our window instead of in the warm stall additionally he has been whining at our window more often lately. I finally closed him in each night during the bitter cold. He tolerated it okay but then after about a week of "nights closed in" he dug through the hard compacted Alabama Clay to get out and come sit on the front porch. He had escaped his pen a time or two but never tried to get out of his stall. So I think the combination of stuck in his stall, the smaller dog not being outside as much combined with the unauthorized visit led to a period of loneliness.
    He seems to be doing better now that I have reopened his stall at night, the little dog is back to spending days outside and a concerted effort on all of us to spend more time with him. Today he spent the day in his stall chewing on his new chew toy since it was wet and rainy all day.
    He has done better the last few days and I hope that spring will help us out. I just know that if it is in his best interest to get another dog, I will need to plan it for the summer so that I have time to train it and get it settled in.
     
  8. Talithahorse

    Talithahorse Songster

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    I won't change him if he doesn't want to. I am content with his current situation if he is but if he is not content I want to make him so.
     
  9. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender

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    Do you want another dog? A dog that is used to dog company will generally be happier with companionship. It's important to pick a good match for him. Dogs are pack animals. If they can't be with their human pack than they should have a canine friend.

    It can take some time to get a dog used to a new situation. So if you don't want another dog than more time in your company is important.

    Most dogs don't need extra heat as their coat will thicken when they are outside dogs, so he may be uncomfortable with you providing it in his pen so he goes out to escape it.

    I've had dogs go into a depression after losing their dog companions. My oldest lost all the dogs she grew up with in a 2 year span, and both of us were very sad. She took close to a year before she started perking up again.
     
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  10. FlappyFeathers

    FlappyFeathers Free Ranging

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    It sounds like your old dog just wants to be near you. He wants YOUR companionship... not just any random living thing to become his new companion. He's getting older and just wants to be around the familiar things or people that he knows and loves. Of course he misses his old companion, but a replacement just won't really work except to serve as a temporary distraction, then you will have a new dog to be concerned with therefore perpetuating this cycle.

    Think about if you lost your best friend or your mother passed away. You would miss them or be lonely or have a multitude of different feelings. A brand new friend coming along isn't going to fix your grief. You (or any person) would take comfort in the other friends and family you already have --they would be your best consolation and support. That's why your dog wants to sleep under your window or on the porch. Dogs are loyal creatures and will suffer through seemingly unbearable pain (or cold) just to be near those they love and are devoted to. Dog's aren't called "man's best friend" for no reason. They've even been known to stick by and defend their abusers.

    I don't think the other dog that came to "visit" actually reminded him of his old companion. I think it may have scared him into wanting to be even closer to you.

    I wouldn't suggest getting a puppy unless that it something YOU really desire. If YOU want another dog to actually integrate into YOUR lifestyle and home. Your older dog will adjust no matter what. Dogs are not livestock and shouldn't just be penned in with no purpose.


    Oops, I just realized grief isn't Scrounge's current problem since his companion was lost a few years ago. Sometimes when animals reach a certain age, their disposition changes. An independent and flighty animal might become calm and start seeking attention, I've seen it happen. Just because your female husky lived to be 17 doesn't mean Scrounge will. He could just be slowing down and needing familiar comfort in which case a new pup may add stress. Even though he's shown some aggression toward other animals in the past, he could also just start losing interest in making challenges (like with the yellow dog). It's possible that the "visitor" dog came by to "put him in his place" as dogs operate within a hierarchy.

    Maybe just give in to what the old dog has been trying to tell you by putting the doghouse under your window if that's where he wants to be. You could try bringing him in the house and keep him in a wire crate for a while to see if his aggression has subsided with age. Bring the other pets by while he's securely locked inside and let him witness how the house routine works. See if he adjusts over the course of a few weeks. Give him a new purpose, a job, some training just for fun. Old dogs really can learn new tricks!

    Good luck with whatever you decide!
     
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