What’s Up with Maggie?

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Those of you that follow our blog know that we rescued our Lab, Maggie about three years ago. She came to us from a Lab Rescue who had removed her from a breeder, a breeding farm really. Her condition was not good, both physically and mentally. She was extremely fearful and didn’t eat for three days after she arrived. It took months and months of slow, patient work to help her get over her major fears, make her comfortable with us and we still have a long way to go.
We’ve written about her progress in the past, Maggie Goes Rebel , Maggie Magellan, Maggie Masters the Dog Door, Maggie, our Quirky Dog and Maggie Creates a Home. She’s been a challenge but a joy to us and a great addition to our family.
When she does something weird, we can usually identify causality to her behavior or at least make some assumptions as to why she does it. She loves sleeping in Jack’s crate because it’s dark and cozy and safe. She takes her chewy bones outside to eat, so big brother Jack doesn’t come along and swipe it. But lately, she’s developed a new behavior that has us baffled. We’re looking for a hypothesis as to what the cause may be.
Our (only half-joking)conclusion is that she doesn’t like us anymore…but that seems a little harsh, and probably not true since she loves going with us on walks, loves her nightly rubs, comes to us when called…but she doesn’t hang around with us anymore.

Maggie ignores us

Jack is velcro – he sleeps with me in my office everyday while I’m working, Maggie used to be with us too – that’s why I have two dog beds in there. But lately, she’s either out in the living room, or in Jack’s crate or out in the backyard, she rarely comes in the office. In the evening, she used to sleep in the bed by the fireplace when we watched TV, but no longer…now she goes in my OFFICE and sleeps in there while we are all in the living room. And the weirdest thing, if I go into my office to finish up some work when she is in there, she’ll leave and go out to the living room!
I really don’t get it. She doesn’t avoid us all the time, she runs to greet us at the door when we come home, she hangs with us while we eat (of course), but she comes to us for pets and for treats and loves her walks…but she just doesn’t like hanging out with us. What’s up with that? We’re fun!
My sister suggested it might be a conflict with Jack, but I don’t think that’s it either. They mostly ignore each other. The only interaction they really have is sharing the back end of the car when we drive to the park. Jack totally defers to her and if she wants a bed, he immediately gets out – I don’t think there is a conflict there.
Our dog Tino was never much for family time until he got older, so I’m used to a dog being aloof, but this is a change in Maggie’s behavior and I’m not sure why. Maybe she’s just feeling more independent and wanting to do her own thing, but it’s kind of weird.
Anyone have any ideas or seen this type of behavior before?

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  1. We saw something similar in our Lab Astro when he became very elderly (he lived to be 16 yrs old). It was almost like being with the pack was too much for him so he was “reclusive” at times. I can’t remember Maggie’s age but I don’t think she’s that elderly yet. Sometimes, when a weird change in behavior happens, I take my dog to the vet just to make sure that nothing medical is causing it. I think I’m even more baffled than you are in Maggie’s case. (I just had one other idea – after rereading that it was about 3 yrs ago that she joined you. We saw that Shyla became more independent after about 2.5 yrs with us, when she finally felt confident enough to do exactly what she wanted rather than what others wanted. Could that be it with Maggie?).
    KB recently posted…Nearly Wordless Wednesday – Rainy DaysMy Profile

    • Maggie is eleven, so age might be a bit of a factor. She just had a check-up so I don’t think anything is wrong. I think it might be an independence thing…although leaving the room when we come in is still a little weird.
      mkob recently posted…What’s Up with Maggie?My Profile

  2. How odd. Usually it is the other way around and we become more clingy with time. No idea.
    Emma recently posted…Deciding What To Wear At BlogPawsMy Profile

  3. When our Tucker was 13 he became more aloof and didn’t hang around us or our other dogs. It felt like he just wanted privacy. lol However, Maggie is not that old. I do wonder if she’s become relaxed enough to simply do what she wants to do, but if she were mine, I’d have my vet check her out.
    Sue recently posted…Loving Pets Robusto Dog Bowl and Bella Mat | Product ReviewMy Profile

    • She was just in for a senior check-up…I didn’t specifically ask about this, but everything else was fine.
      mkob recently posted…What’s Up with Maggie?My Profile

  4. Maybe she’s finally getting comfortable with her independence?
    Sand spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Bags Are Packed~Road Trip AheadMy Profile

  5. I remember when my dog Kelsey started sleeping in a different room than us, I took it so personally and went through the same questions. What’s wrong with her? Doesn’t she like us anymore? Was it something I said? Did? Didn’t do? I think if you rule out medical issues, it may actually be a good sign. Maybe Maggie feels comfortable enough to be on her own. Maybe she’s always needed her space but didn’t feel confident enough to act on it. Kelsey was maybe 6 or 7 when she started sleeping away from us, and we just learned that when she did that, it meant she needed space, and we left her alone. We didn’t have a crate at the time, so she didn’t have any other safe spot until then. Good luck! I’m sure Maggie still loves you.
    –Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats
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    • Thanks – I”m glad to hear others have experienced the same thing.
      mkob recently posted…What’s Up with Maggie?My Profile

  6. I understand your concern. Sampson has been weird lately too. He will be 11 in July and he has taken to always going downstairs to stay with my mom during the day and sometimes even when we come home. Also he has always liked laying outside on the deck but lately he’s taken to going to the other side of the house and settling in a pile of leaves. He just hangs out there staring at nothing. I’ve begun to wonder if it might not be a touch of dementia and will follow up with my vet on it. If you get any insight, I’d love to hear yours as well.

    Thank you for joining the blog hop.
    Jodi recently posted…One Fell Swoop – Barks and BytesMy Profile

  7. Sounds to me like she’s feeling more secure with you guys now and comfortable with just being in the same house, whether you’re in the same room or at the other end of the house. As long as she’s still coming to you when you call her, and enjoying the walks, I don’t think I’d worry too much. Just stay tuned in to her and if she starts avoiding walks, or stops coming to you when you call her, then talk to the vet.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Captions and Other ThingsMy Profile

  8. Interesting, I am not sure what the issue may be….maybe just related to age?
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Love Your Pets #NationalPetWeekMy Profile

  9. Sometimes dogs just need their space. Unless she shows signs of illness and all other factors remain the same, I wouldn’t worry. Sounds like she had a lot of baggage to process, maybe this the the real Maggie from the get-go and now that the layers have been peeled back, you can see her for who she really is, a wonderful addition to the family with growing confidence on her part. <3
    Monika recently posted…So Shines a Good DeedMy Profile

    • She sure has had a lot to process and my office used to be her safe zone…so now maybe she doesn’t feel the need.
      mkob recently posted…What’s Up with Maggie?My Profile

  10. Strangely enough, I think it could be a sign that all your love and efforts are paying off. Maybe she is naturally a more independent/loner type pup, but only now feels confident enough to be herself without being fearful. That, or my other guess is that as she gets older she’s just enjoying all the peace and quiet she can get.

    • I’m hoping that’s it. Tino was very much like this, so I’m thinking the more time she spends in the back yard ( like him) the more she is channeling him…
      mkob recently posted…What’s Up with Maggie?My Profile

  11. I tend to think what others do, that she’s just getting comfortable with her independence. If she just had a health check up, and acts normal at a lot of other times, I wouldn’t think it’s a health issue. As Luke gets older, he gets a little more independent at times and goes off by himself some too. I know that it kind of hurts my feelings when he doesn’t always want to be with the rest of us!
    Jan K recently posted…Health Updates & A Little HousekeepingMy Profile

  12. My 8 year old lab has gotten less tolerant of cuddling as he has gotten older, but he has always been a bit that way. I have a had a couple older dogs want more space because they had developed arthritis or other medical issues. Sometimes at the beginning, its hard to know that they are sore and achy, but in retrospect it is clearer. Sometimes dogs are a mystery…. Maggie is happy and loved and safe and I agree that maybe finally she is feeling safe enough to not have to have the safety of the pack all the time. That is an amazing thing for her!

    • IT is – and I don’t want to do anything to stifle her well earned independence.
      mkob recently posted…What’s Up with Maggie?My Profile

  13. Hi Y’all!

    My Human has always had rescue retrievers until me. My Chessie sis, now over the rainbow, would gather all her toys and carry them room to room, even upstairs to downstairs and back again, for several years. She also never barked at anything or even someone coming to the door. Then one day everything changed. She stopped gathering all her toys around her. She stopped requiring a human to be outside with her when she needed to go to the bathroom, although she never wanted to stay out alone. She stopped following the humans to every room, often laying where she could look out the sliding door and “survey her domain. She also started growling when someone came to the door. Eventually she even started to bark to protect her territory or to come indoors when she was finished her business. Possibly Maggie is making a similar adjustment and finally feeling “at home”, that she “belongs”, and realizing she isn’t going to be “shuffled off” to somewhere else.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…A Week of ChangesMy Profile

    • Dogs are so interesting aren’t they. I hope that it is that she’s feeling safe here.
      mkob recently posted…What’s Up with Maggie?My Profile

  14. Luna is still pretty clingy, but she will occasionally go in a completely different room from us. It has definitely increased over time as we have had her. I actually viewed it the opposite way. That she is comfortable enough with us and with our home that she doesn’t have to be in the same room, but that was just wild guess!
    Jessica Shipman recently posted…5 Red Flags of a Puppy MillMy Profile

  15. I think it’s a sign of her feeling confident enough to have her “alone” time. Both of our boys love to sit with us, but they often go into another room to sleep. She will always love you. ♥
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…The Give for Good was GreatMy Profile

  16. My boy, Cash, 2 years old, recently got a new “girlfriend,” (Annie Banany) who is 4 years old. She kind of takes over a lot of the time, and I have to personally call him to come on the bed with us – Annie wants to be Alpha, and Cash is a laid back gentleman and lets her do this 99% of the time. So I have to take extra time to move Annie over to let Cash be included – Annie is domineering and Cash is fine letting her be this way. Just make sure you spend extra time calling Maggie and making her #1 some of the time……. Jack is just a bigger attention hog and she does not care to rock the boat.

  17. Maybe she needs more one on one time? Dante gets sulky if he isn’t getting enough personal attention, and then he stops paying attention to me.
    Aside from that, you said she’s medically sound so I don’t know…?
    Good luck with Maggie! <3
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Look of LoveMy Profile

  18. Our now 15-year old lab mix went through a very similar thing. Starting a few years ago, he started asking to go lay in our bedroom in the evenings, or any time the household was up and active. We have multiple dogs and Jade is the oldest, and while he gets along fine with everyone, I think he just wanted a break from the activity of the house some times. Plus, his favorite bed was in there. Interestingly, he did this for a couple years, but in the past couple months, he’s been seeking us out again and hanging out with the whole household. He still really prefers it if everyone settles down (our other dogs are BCs and a JRT, so it is an active house), but apparently he’s tolerating the activity to be more social again. 🙂
    Angela recently posted…When It Isn’t a Training ProblemMy Profile

  19. Dogs have such interesting personalities. I too think it may be a sign that she’s confident enough to want some independence (since you ruled out medical stuff). Toby is the most aloof dog we’ve ever had and I relate to how hard it is not to take it personally. But Maggie and Toby both show all the signs of loving their people which no doubt they do. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s a phase she’s going through.
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  20. How old is Maggie? Any chance she seeks quiet places because of pain anywhere? Or feels more tired and seeks quiet for that reason?
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    • She’s eleven. She recently had a checkup, so I’m not sure it’s health related. Not much else has changed in the household – and we’re a pretty quiet household to begin with.
      mkob recently posted…Can Exercise Boost a Dog’s Confidence?My Profile

  21. I think she has been hanging with our Chessies too much. lol But seriously, if she does not have a medical issue, I would say she is just being a independent senior dog. She may be tired and just wants to sleep in peace. I don’t think that is uncommon with senior dogs. Thanks for joining the hop!
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