Let’s talk puppy blues and why it’s normal to feel depressed, hate your puppy, or even want to return your puppy in the early days.
Puppy blues or “puppy postpartum” is extremely common.
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Let’s say you decide to get a dog. You do all your research, you buy all the toys. You imagine snuggling your little fluff-ball on the couch and taking long walks with your new best friend gliding by your side. You mentally prepare yourself for the first few sleepless nights, the vet bills, and house training.
Depression, anxiety, and feelings of deep regret are not in most people’s vision of early puppyhood. Certainly, they weren’t in mine!
I Regretted Getting a Puppy
Earlier this year, my husband and I decided to get a dog. We did everything “right”. We had good intentions. We researched what felt like every single breed, made pros and cons lists, and investigated how to choose a reputable breeder.
After weeks of deliberation, we decided on a Vizlsa. We had both admired them for a long time and felt that the breed would suit our family best. We both had dogs in the past and thought we knew what we were doing.
We got all the things we needed, got in contact with an amazing breeder, and started saving for the expenses. When we would receive pictures of our growing boy, I was felt with nothing but pride and excitement. It was a very similar feeling to seeing my daughter on an ultrasound when I was pregnant.
I was so excited to have a little toddler and a new puppy. Looking back, I’m not sure what I was thinking, ha!
We picked up Bodhi when he was 8 weeks old. He was the cutest, sweetest, droopiest little boy. He was so calm and slept on my lap the whole 8 hour drive home.
I Knew We Made a Mistake
As we pulled into the driveway he gave me a nibble on the arm. Little did I know, we had brought home a full on land-shark. He was a terror. There was literal blood, sweat, and tears. He bit with such force and determination.
“Aren’t dogs supposed to be in tune with our emotions?,” I would ask myself. He didn’t seem to care. We tried what seemed like everything.
I was constantly covered in bruises, bites, and scrapes. I lost several pairs of pants to the cause. I didn’t love him. I didn’t feel bonded with him. I didn’t feel like he loved me. I didn’t feel like it would get better. I remember waking up anxious every day because I had to manage him.
I would cry all the time. I would beg my husband to bring him back. I felt like we had made a huge mistake. I would tell everyone and anyone how hard it was to have a puppy. Without doubt, having a baby was a breeze compared to him.
I didn’t know for a little while that I was suffering serious puppy blues.
What are the puppy blues?
Here is a definition from Psych Central, “Post-puppy depression, another term for puppy blues, isn’t a formal diagnosis. It’s a term used to describe feelings of regret, disappointment, and dismay that can occur after getting a new dog.”
The puppy blues can be caused by your puppy’s destructive behavior, neediness, or inability to sleep through the night.
What are the symptoms of puppy blues?
According to ChoosingTherapy.com, symptoms of puppy blues include the following:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling anxious, sad, and/or hopeless
- Feeling helpless and/or paralyzed
- Feeling guilty or ashamed
- Feeling trapped
- Feeling empty inside
- Feeling numb
- Suicidal ideation
- Feeling angry or resentful towards your dog
- Thinking you made a mistake in getting a dog, or wishing you could return them
- More frequent crying
- Increased tension or more frequent arguments with other members of your household
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased muscle tension, headaches, nausea, or stomach upset
- Changes to appetite and weight loss or gain
- Difficulty sleeping even if your dog is sleeping through the night
Do the puppy blues go away?
Yes, with the right amount of time and training the puppy blues do go away. Ideally, puppies are easier as they grow into themselves, learn to relieve themselves outside, and form a bond with their owner. Speaking with other dog owners or even a mental health professional can be beneficial as well.
Some situations where puppy blues may not go away is if your new dog is reactive or sick. This can lead to ongoing feelings of helplessness and loneliness. A qualified trainer or vet can aid in diagnosing these issues and potential solutions.
For awhile, I didn’t believe people when they said that he would “grow out” of certain behaviors. I really thought we had a lemon on our hands. I thought there was something wrong with him. Diligent training and age definitely helped his behavior and ability to calm down.
Now, Bodhi’s biggest issue is that he jumps on people when they come into the house. This is non big deal with a small dog, but having a 60lb mass of orange muscle jumping up to lick your face can be terrifying. It’s my most significant stressor when it comes to my dog. However, now I have some experience to show me that with the right training, discipline and time, we can get him to a place of safe and joyful greeting.
What can you do about the puppy blues?
The best thing you can do for the puppy blues is to have realistic expectations of your puppy. Puppies are messy, needy, and have no impulse control. Also, most puppies are brought home at 8 weeks old, which is still very young! Embracing the insanity definitely helped my relationship with Bodhi.
The fastest path to forming a bond with your pup is through training. Starting with small, five minute lessons is a great way to start. Sit, stay, and lie down are all basic essentials.
Something else that helped in the beginning was treating it like a new baby. We ordered takeout, used paper plates, let the laundry pile up, and just focused on survival mode.
Training as a Solution to Puppy Blues
However, one of the most helpful skills a pup can learn is how to settle. We taught Bodhi this by rewarding him anytime we saw him “chilling out”. Over time he came to jump onto his favorite chair and put his head down on his paws.
Another thing to save your sanity during the puppy blues is crate training. We chose this crate for our dog and we used it from day one! We began giving him “enforced naps” every few hours. He had a hard time sleeping outside of his crate, so it gave him time during the day to rest. Puppies need a lot of sleep.
Crate training also gives the owner some time to relax, knowing that their puppy is safe. It’s also essential so they are used to being crated in emergency situations, at the groomers, or at the vet.
Will I ever love my new puppy?
Yes! It can feel like that bond will never come, but believe me, it will over time!
I’m sure there are some dog lovers who won’t identify with this post, but puppies are hard.
Now that my dog is a year old, I notice how badly I felt towards him. I was waking up anxious every morning, not wanting to deal with his biting and whining. It really was not how I envisioned getting a dog would be.
He’s still very much a puppy in an adult-dog body. There are some days where his existence feels like more work than reward. He’s still a trouble maker, but I’m able to see my part, like when he’s under-exercised or I left food on the counter where he could reach it.
Now I have the dog that I pictured. He’s my adventure buddy and he curls up at my feet with a bone at the end of the night. He protects our house from allllll the squirrels and is so gentle and loving towards our toddler.
He’s on his way to becoming a sweet old man!
Have you ever experienced the puppy blues? Did you know that it was possible to feel this way after getting a fluffy adorable puppy?
Let me know below!
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Kind of similar to real baby blues.
I enjoyed reading this
Exactly! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!