The excitement that builds before the arrival of a new puppy is infectious. You spend months planning to bring your new bundle of canine joy home, purchasing everything from new leads and collars to dog beds and even cute outfits for your puppy to wear. Yet, once your puppy is safely nestled in your home, you may start to feel a little blue, suffering with feelings of sadness, anxiety, and possibly even regret. The puppy blues can last up to several months. However, if you find yourself feeling this way, there are things you can do to help yourself.
I Just Got a New Puppy, Why Am I Suddenly Feeling Blue?
It is not uncommon to experience the blues after a highly anticipated event like bringing home a new puppy. There is a period of great excitement during which you start to prepare for the future with your new canine family member. You imagine long walks in the woods, playing ball in your yard, and even showing off your handsome new pup at the local pet store. However, once your new pup arrives, reality begins to set in, and at first, having a puppy isn’t quite the idyllic picture you had imagined. It takes time and effort for a puppy to fit perfectly into its new home, and thus, the vision you had for how the two of you would fill your days will take time to achieve. Many owners find this very discouraging.
During this period of the puppy blues, you may start to wonder if you made the wrong decision by adding a pup to your home. You may even think you are in over your head and lack the skills your puppy needs to become a well-adjusted member of both society and your household.
If this sounds like you, don’t despair! Many owners go through this phase after adding a puppy to their family. It is normal to experience a letdown after such a highly anticipated event.
How Long Will I Continue to Feel Blue?
There is no set time period during which you may feel sad, overwhelmed, or regretful after the purchase of a puppy. Typically, it may last only a few days or as long as several months. You may even find that you will move past these feelings only to have them resurface when the puppy hits a challenging growth phase or a fear period. However, as you weather each storm, the incidents of puppy blues seem to be fewer and fewer and of much less intensity.
Most commonly, you may become affected by the puppy blues shortly after your puppy joins your family. In other cases, it may take several weeks for these feelings to take root. When the puppy blues are triggered later on, it is often as the result of adopting a dog who moves from the honeymoon period when all is well to the dog being comfortable enough to really show its true personality.
Though not an exact science, puppy blues seem to reach their peak three weeks after the pup is established in its new home. After this point, your emotions will generally start to taper until they disappear entirely by the three month mark.
What are Some of the Symptoms I May Have the Puppy Blues?
There are many different symptoms you can look for to see if you may be suffering from post-puppy depression. These include:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling trapped
- Feeling you made a mistake and should return the dog
- Frequent crying
- Accelerated tension in the home
- Increased irritability
- Loss of focus
- Pain from muscle tension, headaches
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Weight gain or weight loss
Post-puppy depression may not last long, but these feelings can be very intense. There is no shame in reaching out for help whether is from a trusted friend or member of your family or through counselling with a mental health professional. Support is available to you if you need it.
Why Do People Get the Puppy Blues?
Adding a new puppy into your home is very exciting, but it is not without its upheaval and stresses. With this in mind, there are several reasons why you may find yourself feeling sad, resentful, angry, or regretful after adding a puppy to your home. These include:
Lack of sleep
Puppies need time to adapt to a change. This may mean that during the night your puppy has difficulty settling, perhaps crying before falling asleep. In addition to this, very young puppies often cannot go through the night without regular potty breaks. This may mean that you are up several times throughout the night, and your sleep quality is interrupted and suffers as a result. When you don’t get enough sleep, it is quite normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, and sad.
A change of routine
Adding a puppy to your home means your routine will need to change. Puppies require a lot of your time, and since you likely have to work during the daytime, that means rearranging your schedule to ensure your puppy receives everything it needs. Your time is less your own when you have a puppy relying on you, and many people find that very difficult to accept.
Greater demand for your attention
Puppies require a lot of daily attention. Young pups will need time to learn proper canine manners. During this process, they still explore the world primarily with their mouths, a habit that can lead to disaster if you aren’t there to carefully supervise. Providing active supervision for a puppy during its every waking hour takes a great toll on your energy levels, leaving you feeling tired and irritable.
Loss of freedom
When a puppy is young, they need you more often. This means that even routine things like a quick run to the store for milk can require more planning. The opportunity to accept invitations on a whim or to make a spontaneous decision to go on a vacation often isn’t possible. In time, puppies grow into adult dogs that can be trusted in your home while you take short outings, and vacations are made possible through family, friends, and even boarding kennels if necessary. However, during these early stages, you may find you grieve for the days when you could be more independent and carefree.
Struggling with training/limited knowledge
If you find yourself wondering if you are doing everything your puppy needs as it grows, you aren’t alone. Many pet owners feel this way. It is quite normal to wonder if your puppy is progressing as it should be and if there are any ways you are falling short in your training.
You may encounter a problem you don’t know how to deal with like stopping nuisance barking or succeeding at housebreaking with a particularly stubborn puppy. Lack of knowledge can make you feel like you will never get past the issue you are facing.
Disappointment from unrealized expectations
You may feel disappointed when having a puppy in your life isn’t the perfect picture you had imagined it would be. In the early stages of bringing a puppy into your home, your puppy will need to be molded to your lifestyle, a process that takes time. When things aren’t instantly how you thought they would be with a puppy to love, it is quite normal to feel overwhelmed, sad, and yes, even disappointed.
Pressure to properly care for another living being
Taking care of a puppy brings up a lot of strong emotions for many people. You may find yourself drawing parallels between how your puppy parenting may equate to your ability to care for a child. The pressure to always do the right thing can be too much for a lot of people, leading to feelings of anxiety, despair, and stress.
What Can I Do to Alleviate the Puppy Blues?
If you’re struggling with feelings of anxiety, stress, worry, regret, or are just feeling lost and overwhelmed, there are things that you can do to help you find relief.
Here is our list of ways to help get you feeling like yourself again:
- Seek assistance from your family and friends
- Connect with other people in the same situation
- Consult with your veterinarian
- Research training techniques to help with the challenges you face
- Temper your expectations
- Sign up for a puppy class
- Reward all progress
- Take the pressure off and allow your puppy to just be a puppy
- Remind yourself this phase will pass
- Give yourself permission to make mistakes
- Seek help from a qualified counsellor
Got a case of post-puppy depression? Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. A lot of people suffer with feelings of sadness, anxiety, and regret after a highly anticipated event comes to pass. Help is available, and you can find encouragement in knowing that these feelings will pass in time.