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Our dog (male, a bit less than 2 years old, not neutered) has changed his behavior for a few days now:

  • He whines quite often, a lot more than he did before
  • he eats only half of his bowl of food, and isn't interested in treats like he used to be
  • he seems to want to cuddle all the time - he used to like that previously, but much less than now.

We're considering taking him to the vet, however

  • his nose, tongue, and eyes are just like they've always been, no fever, dry nose or teary eyes or anything
  • he likes his walks like he always did
  • when we let him off the leash, he loves running around, chasing birds, anything, and doesn't seem the slightest bit exhausted

so he doesn't seem to us like he was sick. He had gut worms about 4 weeks ago, got a pill from the vet, and there haven't been any signs of worms or eggs in his poop ever since, so we can rule this out. Also, he gets about 2 hours of exercise per day, plus time in the garden, so we don't think he's bored (and he doesn't show any signs of boredom like chasing his tail e.g.).

Our neighbor said we shouldn't worry, he just wants to have sex, and the whole episode should be over in 2 weeks. I know that female dogs are in heat for a while every now and then, but males? Could this explain his behavior? Or should we take him to the vet, just to make sure?

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  • A little additional information would help a lot: Do you live on the nothern hemisphere (where it's becomming autumn now) and in an area where temperatures usually fall below 0° during winter? And did he start following scent trails during your walk and being distracted by them to a degree that he doesn't follow your commands anymore or only very delayed? – Elmy Oct 7 '19 at 14:29
  • Yes, we live in Germany, so it has gotten colder outside for a few weeks now, and it generally gets lower than 0° (C, not F) in winter. He followed commands quite well when he was younger, became a lot less reliable about a year ago, and has been improving for a few months now, but still isn't following orders reliably, so we generally don't let him off the leash when other people are around. – Guntram Blohm Oct 7 '19 at 17:02
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While I wouldn't necessarily call it "love sickness" it totally sounds like what your neighbor suspects. Male dogs - just like other male mammals, including humans - can't go into "heat". They're "all time ready".

However it's indeed very likely there's a female in heat somewhere around. The problem should solve itself after 1-3 weeks, just keep an eye on your dog's behavior and avoid unattended time alone outside. It might sound like cliche, but with the right "motivation", dogs can get rather creative and crafty.

Also don't worry about food: dogs don't starve to death, they can go a few days without, but will always eat, if they have to and have the chance to do so.

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I live in Germany too. I have seen this behavior by the male dog of my parents-in-law. He did not eat well, was running around a lot, wanting to get out and standing on the door whining.

My parents-in-law said to me: one female dog in the neighbourhood was in heat. The dog could smell her a long way and wanted to get to her.

Maybe one of your dog-friends from the daily walk is in heat too?

If you are worried, the vet is a good address to find help. And If it is love sickness your dog would not lose anything other than a few pounds.

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