This dog is a bit of an enigma, and no mistake...he's so good in so many ways, yet doubts linger over his temperament and stability.
We're even starting to wonder whether he's got a split personality, or some underlying health issue that bothers him sometimes...or maybe a dietary issue - the wrong diet can have a significant impact on a dogs behaviour and demeanour.
Around two thirds of the time, he's almost a perfect dog...polite, relaxed, compliant, amenable, and friendly...he was like this all weekend (notwithstanding the infamous stealing-food-from-small-child incident), from the moment we got up on Saturday...chilled, affectionate, playful, cooperative.
We thought it might be because we drained some of his energy on Friday, and so we gave him a lot of exercise (physical, mental and psychological), through the weekend.
But then today, when we thought he might be dozy and settled after such a busy weekend, he's been a different dog...edgy, nervous, distant, stressed, maybe even depressed...it can be hard to predict how he will respond, and it's difficult to make a connection with him.
This photo, taken approximately 30 seconds before the one above, shows a very different energy and character...
I'd asked him 3 times to sit, but he didn't want to - usually he hardly needs asking once...I put a little pressure on his back - which normally reminds him what I'm asking if he hasn't responded to the initial request - and he complies straight away...but tonight he didn't, and he wanted to turn round, which I physically resisted (with my left hand lightly hooked around his left hind leg in this photo)...you can see how stressed and resistant he is, for no clear reason.
Maybe a third of the time, he seems to be like this...a little antsy, a slight reluctance to comply, sometimes accompanied by a hint of boisterous, chaotic energy, and an apparently powerful attraction to anything edible.
Of course, that could be a typical description of any adolescent male dog...but he also scratches a bit more than you'd expect, which again implies possible dietary deficiencies leading to dry skin.
So anyway, we're going to change his diet and see if that helps at all.
Here's a portrait that shows a touch of that slight, anxious tension...
You can see the concerned stress lines around his eyes, giving a hardness to the gaze rather than the usual softness.
Now I think about it, he's been kept outside in kennels before, yet with us he's hardly interested in the garden at all, wanting to go back into the house all the time...maybe he was concerned because I was taking him in to the garden, asking him to go further away from the house, then going back towards the house myself to take photo's...perhaps he thought I might leave him out there?
A moment later, he looked away...you can still see the stress in his face, around the eyes...
Since we came in he's been a little unsettled, although I've put the fire on in the hopes of relaxing him a bit, which might be working.
We'll monitor his food intake (which we do anyway), and maybe take him to the vets...if nothing else we might be able to rule out one or two physiological possible causes of his unrest.
I'll keep you posted...