Do puppies get depressed? The answer is they can. Probably. But that isn’t what “Puppy Depression” is about when you search on Google.There are two types of puppy depression.
- The Puppy is Depressed. The first type is when a puppy has symptoms of depression. Maybe they withdraw from family activities. They don’t spend time with their owners. They sleep more. They don’t eat, eat less or overeat. Learn more about this type of puppy depression.
- The Owner is Depressed. The most common use of the term puppy depression isn’t about the puppy being depressed. The puppy is perfectly fine. Probably home tearing up the house and maybe having an “accident” or two. This type of “puppy depression” is about the owner being depressed from having the puppy.
Below we will address the type of puppy depression that affects people.
What is Puppy Depression?
Puppy depression, also known as the “Puppy Blues”, is a syndrome of depression that can occur to humans after acquiring a puppy. Some behaviorists create parallels from puppy depression to “postpartum depression.”
Puppy depression can be a normal response from a substantial change in lifestyle. Some pet owners go from a relaxed routine with a clean home to a home that has been turned upside down. This is most common in homes that did not previously have a dog or in homes where there are adult dogs with a well-established routine.
One big reason puppy depression occurs is from loss. How, may you ask, does getting a puppy have to do with loss? Getting a new puppy can be an amazing time but it can also turn a person’s life upside down. They can cause the following:
- Loss of sleep – by waking them up throughout the night
- Loss of property – some puppies will tear up and destroy things
- Loss of freedom – no more meeting friends for drinks or dinner after work. You need to get home to take your puppy out
- Loss of time – time spent training, cleaning up after the new puppy, training classes, going to the vet, going on walks, etc.
- Loss of money – having a puppy can be expensive. It is not uncommon for a puppy owner to spend over $1000 on a puppy without thinking about the fact that the puppy also needs vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks until it is 20 weeks old, spayed or neutered, microchipped, dewormed, fecal checks, heartworm prevention, or flea and tick control. This doesn’t even consider what if the puppy gets sick. You could be looking at vet bills for thousands of dollars. By the way – when you have a new puppy – this is the perfect time to consider pet insurance. Let them help you pay for the vaccines, surgery but also be there if you have a problem.
- Overwhelmed with new responsibilities – getting a new puppy can be somewhat similar to having a new baby. You need to train, walk, feed, deal with accidents, be woken up at night and for some puppy owners develop a routine that they never had before.
For some new dog owners, especially puppy owners, it truly changes their lives.
How Long Does Puppy Depression Last?
Puppy depression can last from weeks to months depending on the puppy and the owner. Sometime it will last until some of the more difficult behavioral issues like housebreaking and chewing have resolved or improved.
Puppy Depression in People: Signs To Look For
Signs of puppy depression in people can manifest as frustration, annoyance, depression and can even escalate to the point where they relinquish their puppies.
A recent study suggests that dogs under the age of 1 year have been rehomed 3 to 4 times before they find their “forever home”. Some new puppy owners suddenly realize that they don’t have the time, their apartment is too small, they can’t afford the cost of care, and many more reasons.
How do You Treat Puppy Depression?
There is help. First and ideally, research the breed you are to adopt. This can help give you some guidelines on the care they will need. For example, Border Collies are amazing dogs but they need a job. They need to stay busy. If you give them the right opportunities, they will be very happy dogs. You put a Border Collie in an apartment where they are cooped up for 16 hours a day, they are likely not going to be a happy dog.
If you already have your puppy, it is important to know what a puppy can do physically and what a puppy can’t do. For example, an 8-week-old puppy can only hold his urine for 3 hours. A 12-week-old puppy can only hold his urine for 5 hours. If you leave a puppy that is 8 weeks for 8 hours – he is going to have an accident. Understanding what a puppy can and can’t do at each age is critical to understanding your puppy and avoiding problems.