Dog Withdraws: Causes, Meaning And When To See The Doctor

If the dog suddenly behaves strangely, distances itself from you, hides and withdraws, this can have various causes.

Common reasons for a sudden change in character in dogs are pain, fear, stress or general discomfort.

But how do you recognize why the dog is withdrawing and when should a veterinarian be called in?

Are you worried about your dog? We understand!

That’s why we want to help you in this article and explain what the reasons could be for your dog to withdraw.

In a nutshell: Why is my dog ​​withdrawing and hiding?

If your dog suddenly withdraws, there can be both physical and psychological reasons behind it. The panic on New Year’s Eve causes dogs to crawl under the sofa for protection. But stress, pain, and new situations can also trigger changes in your dog’s behavior.

How do dogs behave when they are not feeling well?

Dogs are masters at hiding pain. This is anchored in their nature, because those who are not in full health have poor chances of surviving in an emergency.

Unfortunately, many dogs do not notice an ailment until very late.

Of course, the symptoms that indicate your dog is unwell can vary widely. It depends on what’s bothering him and maybe also how old he is.

If your older dog withdraws more and more, this can have different reasons than if your actually squeaky puppy does it.

Withdrawing, seeking peace, apathy, lethargy, altered breathing and/or heart rate, heavy panting and/or salivation, cloudy eyes, pale mucous membranes, diarrhea, fever…

All of these and more symptoms can be signs that something is wrong with your dog.

If your dog has eaten poisoned bait, he will have different symptoms than if his knee hurts. Therefore and because all our dogs are individual, this question cannot be answered in general.

Possible reasons why your dog is withdrawing

As mentioned earlier, there can be many reasons why your dog suddenly becomes distant or behaves differently than usual.

These could be for example:

1. The heat of the bitch or the resulting excited males

Haha, the heat. An exciting time for everyone involved. Whether it’s your bitch herself in heat or you just have that whining male dog sitting at home, being in heat drives them all crazy!

It is therefore not surprising that a bitch’s heat can be accompanied by a sudden change in personality. This is completely normal and will subside as your cycle progresses.

2. A move or a new family constellation

Do you have a little sensitive one at home?

Then it could be that he has to get used to new situations first.

A move, a new partnership or a baby in the house can throw some dogs out of their stride. Others have no problem with change.

If you can safely rule out that your dog’s behavior is caused by pain, you should simply give him the time he needs.

3. Age-related Withdrawal

Dog seniors no longer need fun and action all day long. As they get older, they like to take it easy and get plenty of sleep.

When your older dog becomes withdrawn, it may be that he just wants to be left alone.

Most dog owners can tell when the time is right, but yes, dogs will retire just before they die.

Good to know:

However, it could also be that illness or pain are behind it, or that your first dog is retiring because a second one has moved in. There are many other possible reasons your dog might be calmer than usual. That’s why it’s important that you contact a veterinarian, or possibly a dog trainer or canine behaviorist, if anything seems strange to you.

Dog hiding: When do I have to go to the vet?

If your dog suddenly starts to hide, distance, and withdraw, it can be for both physical and psychological reasons.

What’s your gut feeling saying? Is your dog suffering and if so, what is causing it? Is he afraid, stressed, insecure? Was there a relevant experience, a trigger? For example, a burglary, a violent thunderstorm or was he bitten by another dog? Does he act like when he’s in pain? What side effects / other symptoms are there?

You know your dog best! If you’re concerned about his behavior, be sure to consult a veterinarian.


Sudden behavioral problems and changes in personality make dog owners ponder. What’s the matter with the woof?

It is important to keep a close eye on him now and call a vet if something seems strange to you.

When dogs withdraw, it often doesn’t bode well. They are often stressed, scared, or in pain. The cause can be both psychological and physical.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *