I am an active member of the Reddit Puppy 101 subreddit (an online forum). And I see the same posts almost every single day – “Will this better?” “I think I hate my puppy…is that normal?” “I have the puppy blues – please help.” Whether you are a new-time puppy owner, or have had dogs all your life, it’s likely you’ve experienced the puppy blues – even if you didn’t know what it was called.
The puppy blues can happen to anyone. And right now, it’s happening to me! Olive is almost 13 weeks old now and I think some of the hardest days are behind us (thank goodness for sleeping through the night!)
But it’s been a tough month. I knew what to expect with a puppy, I knew about sleepless nights and crate training and accidents and chewing on everything and whining relentlessly. I was prepared. And yet, I still had a hard time adjusting. And that is, as it turns out, very normal. So, let’s talk about it.
What Are The Puppy Blues?
Many owners feel sad or depressed after their new puppy arrives
Getting a new puppy is EXCITING. Even if you’re well aware and well prepared for all the work you’re about to do, those worries often fade as soon as you see that adorable face of your brand new pup.
After a few days of real life, however, those feelings and worries tend to come back with a vengeance. Cue the puppy blues.
The puppy blues are also called puppy depression, and many people equate it with post-partum depression. According to Puppydepression.com, new owners may get the blues due to:
- The overwhelming feeling of new responsibilities
- Loss of freedom
- Exhaustion due to lack of sleep, puppy crying at night, etc.
- Anxiety about your puppy’s health
- Sudden realization of the amount of work and commitment a puppy takes
Some people may get the puppy blues because they were not adequately prepared for their new family member. However, that is not always the case. When I brought Olive home a little over a month ago, I already had a dog that I had raised from puppyhood!
My life didn’t change all that much by bringing home a new puppy because I already had ‘lack of freedom’ and all the responsibilities that come with dog ownership. But puppies are not dogs. They are needy, whiny, clingy, and they don’t know a thing until you teach them. And that is both physically and mentally exhausting!
Do I Have The Puppy Blues?
Puppy ownership rarely looks as ‘picture perfect’ as this image!
Many people have some form of the puppy blues when they bring home their new four-legged friend. Severity can vary. I’ve seen some people say they basically feel like they’re having a full-fledged depressive episode, while others just feel overly tired and cranky.
Here are some symptoms of the puppy blues – and remember, these are all normal feelings to have!
- Excessive crying
- Feeling like you no longer want your puppy
- Feeling angry, cranky, or frustrated – especially towards your puppy
- Exacerbated existing mental health issues like anxiety or depression
- Feeling like you don’t ‘love’ your puppy or don’t have a bond with him
- Generally feeling down
Note – Getting a puppy is a big life decision. If you have pre-existing mental health issues (like me!) you may want to ensure you have a support system in place BEFORE you bring your new puppy home.
I Have The Puppy Blues – What Now?
Remember that the puppy blues is completely normal – and many people experience it!
If you think you have the puppy blues, the first thing to remember is that this is normal. Guilting yourself over feelings like not loving your puppy or feeling angry at him won’t help anyone – those feelings are all normal and many people go through that.
It is important to note that having feelings like that is normal – as long as you don’t act on them. Neglecting your puppy, hurting your puppy, or ignoring your puppy’s needs is not okay.
It IS okay though to take a break. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing – if you don’t care for yourself, how can you care for your puppy?
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, put your puppy in his safe place (like his crate or an exercise pen) and take a nap. Watch your favourite show. Go to your favourite coffee shop for an hour. It’s okay to care for yourself!
If you have the puppy blues, here are a few things that can help:
- Ask friends and family for support – See if a friend can watch your pup for a few hours while you go out and have some ‘pup-free’ time
- Sign up for puppy training classes – Puppy training classes are not just for obedience, but can also provide support and help for many other issues like crate training, teething, and housebreaking.
- Connect with other owners – Connecting with other new puppy owners online or in-person can help you feel less alone, and remind you that your problems are most likely universal!
- Remind yourself this won’t last – Puppyhood is, honestly, pretty terrible most of the time. It’s a good thing puppies are cute! It’s okay to remember that this stage is hard, but it will not last.
You’re Doing Fine! And It Does Get Better.
Many people feel a stronger bond with their puppy once he’s a bit older
I don’t know you, but I’m going to assume that if you’re here researching this topic, you are probably doing just fine. You care enough to find out why you feel this way, and how to overcome it – I’m sure your puppy is lucky to have an owner like you!
Most people get over the puppy blues after a few weeks to a few months. The hardest time is usually when your puppy is not crate trained, housetrained, and not sleeping through the night.
You are not alone. This is a tough stage for even experienced owners. Puppies are A LOT of work, but they’re also a lot of fun. So do your best to enjoy those fun, happy, cute moments, and allow yourself to feel sad too. Because it’s hard – but it is oh so worth it!