I live with a live-in landlady. I was away at home during the pandemic and on my return I discovered that not only had she been furloughed (so no need for time-keeping), she had also moved in her boyfriend who seems to be nocturnal and goes to bed around 4am. I know this as it's a small flat, he has the horrible habit of keeping all house lights on and he's not particularly quiet or considerate either. I know this bothers me, but I'm even more worried for the dog. It feels like an entirely different pet is living with me now compared to three months ago.

The dog seems to like him in general, but I've noticed changes in his behaviour since I've been back. Before I left he was very active during day time, always wanted to play, always in the way, and when I'd finish night shifts, he'd look at me disapprovingly when I'd pop to the kitchen to put my stuff away. He now tends to sleep most of the day. He's taken on walks and sometimes he seems to want to play, but nothing compared to before. You couldn't get through a single meal without a ball being handed to you or your toes being attacked. This rarely happens now.

I can hear the boyfriend playing with him at 2am. When the landlady isn't there, he would just sit and play video games while the dog was trying to sleep under the sofa rather than his bed, hiding from the light. I've also noticed that the rare nights they don't take over the living room, the dog is calmly sleeping in his bed and isn't even bothered if I use dim lights for a bit. He also doesn't seem to want to eat as much. I've noticed on several occasions when the landlady either forgets to feed him (on time) and he doesn't kick up a fuss, and when she does she has to prompt him several times before he finally eats. They also seem to get up at random times, so I guess his breakfast isn't routinely timed either.

Is this something that could be harming him? Is there any other signs to look out for? He doesn't seem unhappy exactly, but he certainly seems less lively to me. I'm not sure if I could even do anything for him, end of the day, I don't own the flat, the dog or the man, I'm just a tenant, but it's definitely bothering me a lot. The dog is technically co-owned by the landlady with her ex. I'm looking to move out myself when the pandemic settles (largely due to the same new housemate that has been moved in without a word), so I could get him involved in it then.


1 Answer 1


Short answer: yes, dogs can be affected by a change of routine and lack of sleep, but just like most humans they'll simply adapt.

Take the lack of consistency in feeding times for example. If you feed your dog at the same time every day, he'll get used to it and may become excited / restless shortly before feeding time. But if you don't schedule feeding times, your dog doesn't have anything to get used to and get restless about. As long as your dog doesn't have a medical condition (like diabetes) and gets the required amount of nutrition, neither situation is bad or detrimental.

If you want to be sure that he isn't losing weight, you can weigh him now and in regular intervals. To do so, pick him up and step on a body scale, then step on the scale again without him and subtract the second value from the first. Be aware that many scales are inconsistent (depending on the ground they stand on) and measure in 100g intervals.

Lack of rest and/or sleep can have more severe consequences, although subtle and long term. It's scientifically proven that humans who experience a chronic lack of sleep or constant shifts in their sleep cycle have a higher chance of becoming obese and suffering from cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure. I'm fairly certain the same applies to dogs as well.

The change in behavior you perceive can be the dog compensating for being kept up at night by sleeping at day, or it can be a simple adaptation to the new housemate. If you always reacted to being presented with a ball by playing with the dog, but the new housemate largely ignores such attempts, the dog changes strategies and doesn't present people with a ball as often. I'm fairly sure the dog changed his behavior when you moved in as well, but you didn't notice because you didn't know him before. As long as the dog doesn't shy away / hide from anyone or becomes aggressive, I don't see a reason to worry.

It could also mean that he isn't as bored as he was before the new housemate moved in. But that's hard to tell over the internet.

In my experience, dogs who want to sleep are more bothered by light than by sounds. One rather simple change could be providing a kind of den or cavern for the dog to sleep in. Depending on the size of the dog, a simple cardboard box or a crate can be covered with an old blanket or towel, leaving only the entrance open. Put his regular bed inside and see how he likes it. If both dog and bed are very big, it would suffice to cover only half of it to give him a dark place to sleep.

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