You adopted a dog and now regret it or at the very least you are having serious doubts about your decision. The good news is that it is a normal reaction for many when they adopt a dog. 

Post-Puppy Depression is often referred to as the puppy blues. It is when new dog owners expect to feel joy at the new addition to the family but instead feel overwhelmed, anxious, regretful or sad. You might have planned to get a dog for months or even years but now that it has happened it might not be exactly as you pictured it. You had been looking forward to relaxing walks, playing games and cuddles but none of it is as you imagined. The task of integrating a dog into your lifestyle is not a simple one. You now have to think of your dog in most things you do. You might wonder if your dog would be better off with someone else. You might not feel like you have a good connection with the dog. This can happen regardless if it is your first dog or your fourth dog. Each situation is different. 

It may not start immediately after you bring the dog home. It might start once you start to see all the changes you have to make to your life to accommodate the dog or if any new behavioural issues start to appear. It can last a few days or a few months. It may also come back during any changes or new developmental stages for your dog. Research suggests that it is worse in the first three weeks after adopting the dog, often resolving within three months. 

So how do you know if this is what you are experiencing and what can you do to get through this time? 

Recognise The Signs Of Post-Puppy Depression

What Is The Cause of Post-Puppy Depression

Ways To Deal With Post-Puppy Depression

Should You Return The Dog?


Recognise The Signs Of Post-Puppy Depression

The symptoms and duration of the depression will differ from person to person. The symptoms can be similar to those experienced with anxiety and depression. What identifies the below signs and symptoms as being post-puppy depression is that it started not long after bringing home your new pet. Dealing with this depression is not easy and it is best to speak to a trusted friend or family member to explain the difficulties you are having. If you are having severe symptoms or suicidal ideations speak to your GP or a mental health professional. Getting support can assist you in getting through it. 

The signs and symptoms of the post-puppy depression can include and are not limited to:

  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  • Feeling anxious, sad, and/or hopeless
  • Feeling trapped
  • Feeling empty inside
  • 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
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased muscle tension and headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping

What Is The Cause of Post-Puppy Depression

There are several reasons people get puppy blues after getting a dog. Once you understand the cause of the issue you can begin to solve it or manage it better to reduce your symptoms. 

Causes can include:

Too many changes to your life

Some changes happen once you bring home your dog. Depending on the dog they may be waking often at night. A lack of sleep has negative effects on most people. As well as this your entire daily routine will have to change. You have to fit in walks, playtime, training, meals and toilet training. It can take a while for the dog and you to settle into a routine that works for everyone. The responsibility of it all can cause a lot of stress. 

A Greater Demand Of And Disruptions To Your Time

Dogs need a lot of attention but this applies even more in the first few days and weeks after you bring home a new dog. If you are toilet training accidents will happen a lot and there is a lot of time needed to bring the dog in and out to try to prevent them. If you have taken home a young dog they will be bursting with energy. It can be hard to find a few minutes to yourself. You have to make sure the dog is exercised and also need to keep it out of trouble and not get into something it shouldn’t. All of this extra work can be exhausting. 

Mourning Your Old Life 

Your life will change completely once you add a dog to the household. Unfortunately, when planning for the dog it is easier to think about all the positives. But once the dog is brought home all the negatives will show up quickly. Every stage of your day will now need to fit in the dog too. You might need to get up much earlier and you may no longer be able to make plans for heading out straight after work, you now have to make sure the dog can get out to the toilet and will get fed on time every single day! This is especially harder with a pup as they need more toilet training and need to be fed more often. It might mean in the first few weeks you have to turn down plans to meet friends and miss out on events you wanted to go to. This can make you feel trapped and frustrated in your decision to get the dog in the first place. 

Not Knowing How To Deal With Behavioural Issues

No matter the age or the background of the dog they can all come with some issues. Even the smallest of issues can be overwhelming in the beginning. The dog may be barking or fearful in the new environment and have separation anxiety. Any issues can make you feel a bit helpless and make you trapped if you don’t know how to deal with it or if steps that worked before on a previous dog are not working now. You might have had many dogs before but you have never had this dog.

Being Responsible For Another's Life 

It is a big responsibility to be the main caregiver for any animal. In the beginning, this can be very overwhelming and cause a lot of pressure. 

Unfulfilled Expectations

During the planning, you will have had an idea in your head about how life with your dog will be and in most cases, it ends up nothing like that. You can feel great disappointment and regret about this. 

Ways To Deal With Post-Puppy Depression

There are many ways you can manage it to reduce your symptoms. These can include the following:

Reach out to others for assistance

Ask your friends or family for help. Whether it is with the dog or with yourself. Do you need someone to come and mind the dog for a short while so you can run some errands without worry? Do you need a meal provided as you can’t seem to fit in time to cook at the moment? Sometimes even the smallest bit of help can alleviate a lot of the stress and worry you are feeling and will help you to move forward. 

Speak with your friends and family

While you might be reluctant to do so, telling someone in your life how you are feeling can help. You might need some more assistance from friends and family until you settle into the role of dog owner. Speak to other dog owners about when they first got their dog too. While it might have looked like they had an easy time from the outside, chances are they went through similar feelings to you.  

Speak to the rescue or your vets

If your overwhelm and stress are caused by being unsure if you are doing everything OK or if you are worried about the health of your dog, speak to someone knowledgeable in this area. Contact the rescue and explain the situation and get clarification on any issues you might be having with the dog. If it's behavioural they might be able to recommend a trainer or give you tips to try on your own. If it is a health-related issue that has you worried, phone your vet to ask for advice and see if an appointment is needed. 

Do your research

Whatever you are going through with your dog, chances are there have been many who have dealt with it before. There is a wealth of information available for free online. Speak to other dog owners, they might have been through something similar or know others who have. 

Recognise that change won’t happen overnight

At all times we want our lives to be as simple as possible. Dealing with the stress and worry a change in our routine brings is not easy. We can very easily focus solely on the negatives. Getting set up in a new routine that works or improving any current behavioural issues with the dog will take time. Setting reasonable expectations will help alleviate some of the stress and worry. Expecting to be used to this new routine after a week when in reality it will take a few months will just make you more hard on yourself. 

Work with a trainer

Working with a trainer either alone or in a class is a great way of bonding with your dog and also meeting others who might be dealing with the same issues as you. 

Keep a diary to see how far you have come

Keep a diary and take note of the good and bad things that week. You will be able to see the areas you are improving on and what you can work on with your dog. Plan a treat, either for yourself or the dog, once you overcome the current issues. 

Remember it won't last forever

While it's hard to imagine it while experiencing these negative feelings, you will adjust to this new normal in your life. But be gentle with yourself. You are not alone in feeling like this and it won’t last forever. You and your dog will settle into your routine and work through any behavioural issues. 

Should You Return The Dog

Buyer’s remorse is fairly common for new dog owners. It’s not until we get the pup home that you realise what exactly you signed up for. You are now responsible for this life. That can be overwhelming. If you feel returning the dog is the only solution, contact where you got the dog from. They will want it to have a happy life with whoever has adopted it. 

Explain how you are feeling and the issues you are having. I would not rush any decision at this point but it is better to be upfront with the rescue about the problems you are having instead of contacting them in a few months suddenly to return the dog. Remember the saying a problem shared is a problem halved. When we only have ourselves to think about a problem it can seem bigger than it is. There will be times when the solution for the dog is to have it rehomed but don’t rush into this as it may not solve your feelings of depression. Be sure it is what you want to do after trying the other options first. You don’t want to regret your decision later. 

Remember why you decided to adopt a dog. What was it you wanted for yourself and the dog and can this be achieved with some work from both of you? Consistent training, the dog maturing a bit, and settling in better can help a great deal. It is good to remember that it takes weeks to bond with a dog, especially a shelter dog. You are as new to it as it is to you and it is in an environment it may not have experienced before. Give it some time to relax and figure out what it’s like to be in a family.