Welcoming a furry friend to your home is an exciting moment. But for some pet owners, especially first-time dog parents, the initial stages are anything but joyful.
It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and even a little down as commitments around your four-legged companion increase—a phenomenon known as puppy blues.
What are puppy blues exactly, when do they go away and what can you do to overcome them?
Keep on reading for the answers.
What Are Puppy Blues?
The term puppy blues refers to a range of negative emotions that can come with being a new pet parent. These feelings may range from mild disappointment to serious distress, or anything in between.
As the euphoria around your new four-legged friend subsides and your new puppy continues to take up much of your time and energy you might even start feeling guilty about getting a new dog and think about rehoming your pup or returning him to the breeder.
Not to worry! Puppy blues, or post-puppy depression is completely normal and only temporary.
How Long Do Puppy Blues Last?
So, when do puppies get easier?
Truth is, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact time. It mainly depends on how well your dog is getting on with basic training and how much support you have from family and friends.
For most people, it only takes a few weeks—enough time for you and your pup to get comfortable with each other and settle into the new routine. In other words, if you are hit with the blues and thinking of returning your puppy after a week, you would be making a rushed decision.
In rare cases, though, puppy blues can turn into an overwhelmingly negative experience and linger for months. If you start thinking along the lines of ‘my dog is ruining my mental health’, it might be best to consult a therapist or a mental health professional who can help you deal with the negative emotions.
Why Do Puppy Blues Happen?
In most cases, there isn’t one specific thing that leads to new puppy stress syndrome. It is more likely a combination of several factors, which can add up and become frustrating and upsetting on all fronts.
Here are the most common causes of post-puppy depression.
- Routine Disruption: A new puppy can cause big changes to your daily routine. You will have to make time for walks, training, play, and feeding time, which means putting some of your personal stuff, like binging a TV show or going to the gym, on hold.
- Being responsible for another living being: Taking care of a puppy is a full-time occupation—they rely on you for everything which can be incredibly exhausting, both physically and mentally.
- Your house is a mess: Constantly cleaning up after your puppy can be irritating and the cause of more negative feelings towards your dog.
- Overexposure to information: The amount of information online on puppy grooming and caring may be helpful, but overwhelming at the same time. Too much information can leave new dog owners questioning if they are doing everything right and result in feelings of inadequacy or anxiety.
- Losing sleep: Getting less sleep than usual because your new pup needs attention in the middle of the night, only leads to more fatigue and frustration.
- Pressure on finances: Small dogs are costly as they need special food, stimulating toys, and grooming. If you’re feeling the financial strain that comes with pet ownership, it can lead to additional stress.
How to Overcome Puppy Blues
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ease your transition into pet parenthood and help deal with the symptoms of puppy blues.
Some might prove more effective than others, as everyone manages to cope with change differently. You need to figure out what works best for you and your lifestyle.
1. Make sure you have a network of support
Having help and support is crucial for new pet owners. Whether it’s your partner, close friends, kids, neighbors, or even fellow dog parents in your neighborhood, these people can offer much-needed assistance and words of wisdom when things get tough.
Or they can simply puppysit for you while you get some quality “me” time. Having others take care of your new pup for a couple of hours also helps build their social skills and teaches your doggie to be comfortable around new people, so a win-win.
If you don’t have any relatives or friends to rely on, consider joining an online pet parenting forum. It can be helpful to talk to someone who’s been through the same thing and can offer non-judgmental support.
2. Keep your puppy active and engaged
Take your puppy out for as many walks as your schedule permits. If this is not doable, you can always play a few rounds of fetch or get him to chase his favorite toy around the house.
Get dog toys that provide physical and mental stimulation, such as chew toys or interactive puzzles. These will keep your pooch entertained when you’re out of the house as well as when you need some downtime.
Activities not only promote his well-being but make him easier to manage, too. Plus, what better way to bond with your pet than playtime?
Keep in mind that dogs love routine, so try and exercise your puppy at the same time each day.
3. Manage your expectations
You might think that getting a new puppy is all fun and games, only to find that taking care of a small dog is a 24/7 job. The difference between what you expected and the reality can build up some negative emotions and make you say things like ‘I regret getting a puppy’ or ‘I don’t want my puppy anymore’.
Before that happens, it’s important to know what to expect and what constitutes as normal behavior for a puppy. For instance, an informed pet owner will know that a pup is chewing on the table legs because he is teething. It may still drive you nuts, but at least you will know what is causing his behavior and when it will stop.
|Take a look at our top puppy tips for new owners for more information.|
4. Celebrate small victories
Pet parenting may seem frustrating at times, but try to focus on the positive moments and take pride in your dog’s accomplishments—no matter how small.
Your dog can also join in the celebrations. Give him a treat when he obeys you or learns a new trick. This way you are positively reinforcing good behavior and forming a habit in your dog that will last well into adulthood.
5. Try to stay calm
When you feel that it is all becoming too much or you are just plain tired of picking up after your puppy, tell yourself ‘this is just a phase’ and ‘it’s not like my puppy doesn’t like me and is doing it on purpose’. Try to be patient with your pup and remember that everything is new to him, so don’t treat him too harshly.
That said, some issues like biting and chewing might continue as dogs get older, so it’s important to address them early on by talking to a professional trainer or your vet.
6. Invest time in toilet training
Toilet training a puppy is one of the most challenging tasks for new pet owners, but not impossible to do.
Buy a good quality carpet or floor cleaner to remove the smell of urine—dogs tend to pee in the same spot as a way to mark their territory and will continue to do so until you remove the smell. Give your dog a treat every time they successfully do their business outside, and above all be persistent.
7. Don’t beat yourself up
You might feel guilty for having thoughts like ‘I hate my puppy’ or ‘I made a huge mistake’. Don’t!
Puppies are a lot of work, and it’s only natural that you feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Once you tell yourself that feeling resentful and even angry at your dog at times is okay, you will start to overcome the puppy blues.
While the post-puppy blues are a common and perfectly normal phenomenon, it doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. Oftentimes, adverse emotions can feel overwhelming, making it much easier to give the whole thing up and return or rehome the puppy.
In these times remember that it’s all just temporary and that every dog owner has dealt with their fair share of challenges, eventually overcoming them with time, patience, and perseverance. Who’s to say you can’t do the same?
When does having a puppy get easier?
This depends on you and your pet, but usually, things get much easier in a month or less. All it takes is for you and your puppy to get used to each other.
Is raising a puppy harder than a baby?
Puppies rely on you for all their needs, much like babies. However, puppies grow up much faster than kids, so while you may experience similar worries and frustrations at the start, these issues will resolve much faster with your pup.
What are the symptoms of puppy blues?
Although it varies from one person to the next, people who experience post-puppy blues usually feel overwhelmed, anxious, or think they are not cut out for the whole pet parenting gig. Luckily, the puppy blues will pass in time, and then you can start enjoying the company of your pet and all the benefits that come with it.