Dear Doctor: The dog has started acting out


Q. I have an 8-year-old male dachshund who is usually good, but in the last 2 weeks he has been shredding everything in sight. He is also defecating on the floor, which he never did before. I work 10 hours a day, but I feed him and take him out to go to the bathroom before I leave. I also give him plenty of hugs and love before I go. Yes, he’s spoiled! But still, this behavior is not like him. I’m wondering if, since I took some time off recently, this is the problem. I love my dog more than anything else and also need him, as I am almost deaf and he hears for me. Anything you can say to help me would be greatly appreciated. I can’t drop him off at doggy day care because he doesn’t get along with other dogs.

Name withheld by request

Dear Reader,

A. It does indeed sound like you have a special bond with your dog, but we’re not so sure that he would agree about being spoiled. Ten hours is a long time for a dog to be alone without a walk. Many people assume two walks a day is enough for their pet, but a dog really needs to get out of the house three to four times a day — not just for toileting but also for some environmental enrichment that includes seeing and sniffing the neighborhood. And he needs more together time with people; dogs are extremely social animals.

We think your suspicion is probably right that taking some time off has played into your pet’s new, unsettling behavior. He might have previously been resigned to the fact that he was going to be alone and in the house all day, but once he got a taste of “the good life” with you at his side more of the time, he wasn’t able to adjust to going back to long days alone.

Have you thought about hiring a dog sitter to come in once a day and take him out — or perhaps asking a neighbor to do it as a favor? That would give him what he needs without subjecting him to the anxiety of being around other dogs in day care.


  1. As a retired couple we had 2 Shi Tzus, father & daughter, less than 1 yr apart. The male was very affectionate & loving; the perfect dog & liked to be held & cuddled. The female, as a puppy, was the same, but as she grew up the holding was not her cup of tea, so we kept being affectionate to both the way they liked. Unfortunately 2 yrs ago, at the age of 9, the male had surgery to take his left eye out due to some kind of disease. We assume that as she was growing up the female, for some reason did not like him (her daddy), picking fights with him, and getting in the middle whenever we or any other human wanted to pet the male; she also is aggressive to other dogs, no matter what size, At feeding time we put them in separate rooms because she was always pushing him aside to take his food. It seemed to us that with one “dirty” look she scared him and he just complied. Unfortunately, one night she picked a fight and cut (not a scratch)t his only eye’s cornea, to the point that at our regular Vet’s suggestion, we took him to a dog ophthalmologist who did a graft, which allowed him to see some. On New Year’s eve last year, they got on another fight and somehow took his only eye out. He was in such shock that he was not crying or even moaning when we immediately took him to the Vet. He tried to save his eye, but nothing could be done, just he tried to mitigate his pain and keep him comfortable. Much to my regret and with an indescribable pain I went along with my husband’s decision of putting him down. So, New Year’s day we buried him in our backyard. We’re still in mourn and miss him badly. The female has not given any sign of missing him and now she has become my husband’s “shadow”, he even has to let her in when he goes to the bathroom. and in spite of all of this, we love the dog and realize that animals are animals. But, even though it’s too late for us now, could somebody in your institution give us some kind of explanation of her behavior? It looks to us that, as in humans, this was a case of jealousy of some sort.
    We’ll appreciate your comments.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here