How To Overcome Post-puppy Depression

January 9, 2023

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About The Editor
About The Editor

Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology.

About The Writer
About The Writer

Sara Graff is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Florida.

About The Medical Reviewer
About The Medical Reviewer

Dr. Angela Phillips is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher.

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If you recently brought home a puppy, chances are you have a soft spot for those cute, little, furry guys. You might smile when you see silly puppy antics on television or in videos. You relish the idea of unconditional love and support from this furry best friend. You dream about snuggling up on the couch with your companion. Then why do you feel down, hopeless or anxious about this new family member? Can you move through it and live happily with your new puppy? Some people may develop puppy blues because they feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of having a new puppy, but overcoming post-puppy depression is possible.

What Exactly Are the Puppy Blues?

Simply hearing the word puppy can put a smile on your face. The thoughts of furry snuggles and silly antics lead many people to bring a puppy into their home. Then reality hits. Puppies are a lot of work. They do not come trained, housebroken or sleep through the night. They might chew up your favorite shoes, bite your child and bark all night. You might feel attached to your home and uncomfortable leaving. When you go out, you worry about what the puppy might do or feel a nagging obligation and responsibility to take the puppy outside, feed the puppy and give the puppy love and attention.

When some people awake to the reality that a puppy requires more than hugs, kisses and sweet baby talk, they may regret their decision to get a puppy. Some people may doubt their ability to be good puppy parents or question if this pet is the right match for their home and family. 

Some people move through these emotions quickly. Others struggle more and develop a case of the puppy blues. With the puppy blues, people may experience:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Dread
  • Remorse
  • Guilt 
  • Regret
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Discouragement
  • Hopelessness
  • Crying episodes
  • Change in appetite

What Causes the Puppy Blues

The thought of getting a puppy brings many people excitement and happiness. They envision playing games with the puppy or fantasize about the puppy’s unconditional love. They laugh when they see cute puppy photos and have read about how having a pet brings joy and happiness and improves mental health. 

Then, they bring the puppy home and end up experiencing emotional upset. They feel down, depressed and anxious. The reality of the stress, pressures and challenges of having a puppy becomes too much, and they get the puppy blues.

Many things can lead to puppy blues. The worries, pressures and responsibilities can come into full force and cause depression and anxiety for puppy parents. Some common triggers include:

  • Fears and worries about the puppy’s health
  • Concerns about the puppy’s behavior
  • Feeling unprepared or unknowledgeable about how to care for the puppy
  • Frustration with the puppy’s behavior
  • Upset about the puppy’s destructiveness
  • Feeling like you cannot leave the puppy alone
  • Puppy accidents in the home
  • Interrupted or lack of sleep
  • Changes and limitations to your routine
  • Feeling stuck in a terrible situation with no escape plan
  • Worrying about not feeling connected or “in love” with the puppy
  • Endless responsibilities to care for the puppy (going outside, feeding, bathing)
  • Self-doubt about your ability to be a good puppy parent
  • Guilt about feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with the puppy’s care, behavior, etc.

How Long Do the Puppy Blues Last?

People will experience the puppy blues for different lengths of time. Some people will work through emotional distress quickly, while others may struggle for months.

Puppy blues differ from a clinical major depressive disorder. Depression is a major mental health disorder that causes severe impairment in someone’s functioning. The puppy blues are typically a situational reaction to the stressors or disappointment someone experiences when bringing home a puppy. 

If you think your puppy blues are impacting your life and functioning, you should consider seeking an evaluation from a mental health provider to assess if you have a more serious condition, such as a mood or anxiety disorder. 

How To Cope With Post-puppy Depression

When you realize you have a case of puppy blues, you can take steps to cope with your depression or anxiety. Once you find some relief, you can experience more of the joy and love you hoped to feel when you found your puppy.

Manage Your Expectations

Learning about your pet can help you set more reasonable expectations for yourself and your puppy. Managing your expectations begins with research. As you gain knowledge about your puppy, you can feel more empowered to tackle responsibilities, training and puppy care with reasonable goals and expectations.

Consult with your veterinarian, books, podcasts, blogs, family, friends or trainers when researching. To set appropriate goals and expectations for your puppy, learn more about:

  • Your puppy’s breed
  • Typical milestones for puppies
  • Puppy development
  • Managing behavior
  • Integrating a puppy into a home and family

Start Training Right Away

Most puppies do not come into your home already trained. Depending on how you obtained your puppy, the puppy may have experienced some training. Whether or not your puppy has undergone any training, the sooner you begin your training regimen, the sooner you will feel more confidence, comfort and joy with your puppy. You can curb problematic behaviors, teach important skills and have fun with your puppy.

Training your puppy will reduce stress regarding problematic behaviors. You can feel more in control of the situation. As your puppy learns your expectations and new skills, you can decrease some of the puppy’s dependence on you. As the pressures ease up, your puppy blues might lessen.

Options for training your puppy may include:

  • Puppy classes
  • Trainers
  • Books 
  • Videos

Be Patient

When you feel anxious and overwhelmed and have puppy blues, it is easy to want a quick fix to eliminate the problems. Unfortunately, training a puppy takes time. It helps to remind yourself that you are taking care of the most critical needs of your puppy: food, water and veterinary care. Remember that your puppy will make some progress and then take a few steps backward. It is ok! 

Consider keeping a tracking log with the issues that lead to the most stress for you with your puppy. You can track the progress of these concerns to keep you motivated. 

For example, if you prioritize housebreaking your puppy, keep track of how often you take the puppy outside and how many accidents the puppy has. You may see that the puppy is doing better than you realize or that you need to change your routine and take the puppy outside more frequently.

Manage Your Own Stress 

Taking time to manage your stress can help decrease anxiety and puppy blues. You undoubtedly have stress and pressures related to the puppy and other aspects of your life. Giving yourself the space and time to cope with the stressors and decrease the impact will go a long way to help you through the puppy stage.

Some ways to manage your stress include:

  • Meditating
  • Doing yoga
  • Exercising
  • Journaling
  • Doing hobbies
  • Going for a walk
  • Talking to a friend or family member
  • Socializing
  • Watching an enjoyable movie or tv show
  • Eating well
  • Asking for help

If you or someone you know is facing puppy blues, the Nobu app can help through this challenging time. The Nobu app provides free mental health support, including learning coping skills, journaling prompts and goal setting. You can also connect to a mental health professional and begin online therapy sessions. The Nobu app is available for download on the Apple Store and the Google Play store. 


Take Control Of Your Mental Health

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About The Editor
About The Editor

Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology.

About The Writer
About The Writer

Sara Graff is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Florida.

About The Medical Reviewer
About The Medical Reviewer

Dr. Angela Phillips is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher.

  • National Institute of Mental Health. “Depression.” September 2022. Accessed December 2, 2022.

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