You must’ve heard of postpartum depression. However, have you heard of puppy blues? Let’s find out.
So, you’ve always wanted a puppy. You got one too. However, despite being super cute, the puppy is ruining your life. Was it too quick a decision to get a puppy? Are you ever going to be able to sleep again peacefully? Is it still an option to return the puppy to the breeder? Where did all of that excitement go? How did the world suddenly turn upside down?
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Puppy blues can happen to anyone. Whether you are a first-time dog guardian or a dog guardian for the sixth time, it can hit any time. It is typical for owners of new puppies to feel very low after they have bought a puppy. Postpartum depression is a well-documented disease in the case of new moms. Even though puppies may not be humans, there are certain parts of raising puppies and kids that are alike. The experience of having a new puppy can be very challenging, intimidating, and emotionally draining.
What are puppy blues?
When you thought of getting a new dog, you imagined games, cuddling time, and long walks. However, once the puppy entered your life, you realized much more than just walks, cuddles, and fun. Real-life involves cleaning after your puppy, feeding them, training them, sleepless nights, etc. These are not the aspects that you imagined. All these factors put together force them to feel that the puppy would be better off with another family or in a shelter. Another major struggle that most dog guardians face is lifestyle changes. The guardian starts to feel like they have no time for themselves and cannot get any work done because of the puppy. These factors also contribute to the lack of a meaningful relationship between the guardian and the dog.
Another name for puppy blues is postpartum puppy sadness. Puppy blues is not a psychological disorder but a common complaint amongst new dog guardians. Once they adopt a puppy, they may feel wary, numb, worried, desperate, and face other unpleasant feelings.
When do puppy blues start?
Dog guardians are usually hit with puppy blues a few days after bringing the new dog or puppy home. However, it is not necessary that it would occur within the first few days. Guardians may also get hit by puppy blues after a few weeks. However, the second case scenario is more likely if the guardians have rescued a dog and the dog’s real personality starts to showcase after a few weeks. When the real character shows, the guardians begin to experience puppy blues.
|What are puppy blues?|
How long does puppy blues last?
Puppy blues can last for any period, ranging from a few days to a few months. However, there is a chance that the problem can recur once the puppy reaches a milestone in the growth stages like the fear stages. The fear stage is a developmental stage of the puppy when the puppies act skittish or fearful. Puberty time is another milestone in the puppy growth stages where parents or guardians may feel overwhelmed. However, the good thing about puppy blues is that when they recur later, the duration is lesser, and they are not as powerful as the first time.
There is no scientific evidence backing up the duration of puppy blues. However, anecdotal evidence has indicated that severe puppy blues occur during the third week from the start of symptoms. After the third week, the symptoms may persist. However, they become more manageable and usually fade away within three months. It has been often reported that when the puppies finish teething, the puppy blues symptoms also disappear away from the guardians.
Puppy Blues symptoms
The puppy blues symptoms and duration can vary depending on the guardian’s personality. Most of the symptoms of puppy blues are very similar to symptoms of anxiety that people experience. Suppose a person has an inclination towards depressive disorders. In that case, they are more likely to suffer from puppy blues after bringing a new dog or puppy home.
Puppy blues symptoms and signs
The following symptoms and signs a part of puppy blues if they occur after a new dog enters your life:
- Sadness, hopelessness, anxiety
- Overwhelming feelings
- Paralyzed her helpless feelings
- A sense of shame or guilt
- Feeling empty on the inside
- Feeling trapped
- Suicidal behavior
- Feeling resentful towards the
- Feeling like you made a big mistake when you got the dog
- Feeling like you are not the right person for the dog
- Crying more than ever
- Increase in the frequency of quarrels with family members
- Increase in irritability
- Concentration problems
- Stomach, nausea, headache, or other discomforts
- Muscle tenseness
- Weight gain or loss
- Appetite changes
- You cannot sleep even if the puppy sleeps the whole night
Even though the puppy blues symptoms are not permanent, they can be terrible for your mental health. Therefore, get in touch with your family member or a trusted friend and get the help of mental health professional. Do not ignore the signs and symptoms. They may also be indicative of an underlying depressive disorder. Therefore, reach out for help and get the assistance that you deserve. This is especially crucial if you are having suicidal thoughts.
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Why does puppy blues occur?
There can be a variety of causes behind severe puppy blues, including sleep deprivation and the realization that suddenly, another creature is entirely dependent on you. When you start to feel anxious and resentful towards the puppy, you must look inside yourself and find out where these thoughts stem from. There is a chance that you may uncover underlying stress or depression contributing to the puppy blues. Understanding the causes behind puppy blues will help you hold onto your normalcy and put your feelings into context.
Changes in sleep quality or pattern
When you bring home a dog, it’s a big responsibility. You may be waking up multiple times at night to take your puppy out. You must console your puppy if they bark or cry. Finally, you do not sleep as well as before when you sleep. Constant sleep deprivation can impact mental health negatively and make it difficult for you to bring your emotions under control. Even if you have high mental strength, lack of sleep can cause you to feel depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, and distracted.
Changes in daily routine
Suppose you are used to a specific daily routine. Once a puppy enters your life, your routine turns upside down. You have to make time to walk the puppy, feed the puppy, train the puppy, take the puppy out for bathroom breaks, etc. Suddenly the entire schedule seems haphazard. Unless you adapt to the new schedule involving your puppy, you will continue to feel anxious and overwhelmed.
Increase in disturbances
If you prefer a tranquil environment, bringing a puppy into your life can make it challenging to find peace. You have to constantly check on the puppy, make sure they are not chewing anything inedible, clean up pee accidents, clean up the poop, create train the puppy, play with the pup, etc. You may start to feel that even five minutes of peace has become very expensive.
Increased attention demands
Puppies require a lot of attention. They do not like to be alone. Even when the puppy is playing independently or is behaving peacefully, you have to keep one eye open to ensure that the puppy does not get into any trouble. Constantly keeping your focus on the pup can be very draining mentally.
You cannot go anywhere without a puppy. If you go to the bathroom, your puppy will follow you. When you are home, you must ensure that the puppy gets ample bathroom breaks. For this reason, you may have to decline an outing with your friends and forgo making any spontaneous plan. These can contribute to frustration, irritation, and a sense of being in jail all the time.
Deficiency of information
If you are not entirely prepared before you get a puppy, you may not know what is expected at what age for dogs. This may make it very difficult to deal with puppy issues like excessive barking, excessive chewing, crying at night, etc. Whether it is a puppy or a dog, not having complete information on how to take care of the animal can be very tiring and worrisome.
Most people dream that their dog will be perfect. They do not consider the initial stages of puppies’ biting, chewing, and destructive behavior. Thus, your reality may not live up to your expectations when you get a new puppy. Even though this is a part of the initial phase only, the gap between reality and expectation may cause you to feel overwhelmed, disillusioned, and expressed.
Underlying mental health issues
As I previously mentioned, if you already suffer from any mental health issue, bringing in a dog or puppy into your life, especially when you are not entirely ready, can increase problems. This is especially true if you suffer from depressive or anxiety disorders. As per a study, if you have a negative attitude towards your puppy, your depression symptoms can exacerbate.
Suppose you start to observe such changes within a few days after being your new puppy home. You might begin to feel more melancholy, worried, angry, and begin to feel suicidal. In that case, you must consult a mental health professional.
It suddenly hits you that another creature is entirely dependent on your love and care. What if you are busy somewhere and a mishap happens with the puppy? What if you are not able to take care of the puppy properly? What if the puppy has some disease? How will you handle that? All of these can contribute to extreme levels of stress. You might feel overwhelmed due to the sudden responsibilities of becoming apparent without the proper preparation. Such thoughts can be highly anxiety-inducing, frightening, and overwhelming.
How to survive puppy blues?
If you are trying to find a way to your puppy blues, the primary thing you must do is understand the underlying cause. Once you know the underlying cause, it is easier to deal with the puppy blues symptoms. If you are suffering from a severe puppy blues case, making certain adjustments in your life and implementing specific tactics would make your day-to-day life much more manageable. You must be flexible and adaptable when you are attempting new things. What has worked for someone may not necessarily work for you. Thus, keep an open mind about things.
Tips for surviving puppy blues
|How to survive puppy blues?|
Initially, you will have to spend all your free time with your pup, it may become overwhelming, and you may feel jailed in your own house. Instead of feeling cooped up, you can invite your friends over to your place. This would prevent you from feeling caged. It will also allow your dog to meet other humans and learn socialization. You will start to get a feel of normalcy while your pup learns to deal with the presence of other humans in the house. You can also check out groups on social media sites like Facebook, where people openly discuss puppy blues and how they dealt with it. You may find some tips which may work for you.
Get in touch with the veterinarian.
Suppose you are unsure about any unusual behavior that your puppy is showing. In that case, the best person to contact will be the veterinarian. A quick call can put your mind at ease regarding the health of your pup. Most veterinarians are very indulging. They will be happy to answer your questions and guide you regarding any skill or information that you need to ensure that your dog is in perfect mental, behavioral and physical shape.
Research is crucial before you get a puppy. Suppose you missed out on researching before you got a puppy. In that case, learn on the job. It is never too late to do research. Research is especially crucial with regards to understanding the behavior your puppy displays. When you are armed with knowledge, parenting will become easier. You will gain newfound confidence to help you deal with puppy blues and be a better dog guardian. Alternatively, you can also contact your family members or friends who have dogs. You can ask them for help with training, behavioral issues, and dog psychology.
Do not have your head in the cloud when it comes to your dog. Focus on maintaining realistic expectations. Reading up on your dog’s breed, developmental stages, age, history, etc., will allow you to expect what might happen. This would mentally prepare you and keep you from getting worried if something does not go as per ‘your’ idealistic plan.
Do a puppy course
Check your progress
You can use your phone or paper to keep track of the progress that you’re making. Take three issues and focus on them for two weeks at one point. Focus on every small thing that you accomplish with your dog. This will help you gain confidence, feel more upbeat, and increase the bond you have with your dog.
Unwind and relax
It is not always possible to be patient, attentive, and upbeat. It is tough to have a small puppy dependent on you for their fundamental needs. Thus, you need to give yourself breaks. When your puppy is sleeping, focus on yourself. If your puppy is crate trained, put them in the crate while you take a nap, indulge in self-care, or go shopping. Alternatively, you can also put your puppy in the dog daycare and have some time to yourself.
Understand that the situation is temporary
When life is difficult, minutes seem like an hour, and an hour seems like a lifetime. Tell yourself to put one foot in front of the other and progress. If things are hard, focus on the next task at hand. Remember, your puppy will grow and whatever situations come in front of you, you are strong enough to handle them.
Be kind to yourself
It is easy to start feeling overwhelmed when things don’t go your way. However, you deserve kindness. Every new parent learns from their mistakes. You cannot be at your 100% at all times. You should be prepared if something goes wrong. Tell yourself that you are okay as long as the puppy is in the crate or a safe and has access to clean water and food. Have your veterinarian’s number on the fridge or at a place that is easily accessible. There will be good and bad days. If a day seems particularly difficult, take a deep breath, tell yourself you will get through it, and focus on progressing forward instead of allowing yourself to start feeling overwhelmed.
Talk with therapist
You may not realize it, but therapy can play a huge role in helping you adjust to your new life with the pup. It is easy to give up when situations become difficult; it is easy to forget why you got the dog in the first place. One of the best ways to deal with puppy blues is to talk to someone who has been through it already. It is tough to be positive when you are drowning in negativity. Thus, if you suffer from sadness, anxiety, or guilt, you need non-judgmental support. A therapist can only provide this. Your therapist can help you process the problematic aspects of your experience, figure out solutions that can easily be implemented, and control that feeling of overwhelm that has become a constant in your life.
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Puppy blues is something that the guardian feels when taking care of your puppy starts to seem like too much work. They begin to question themselves if it was the right decision to bring a puppy into their lives or if the puppy would be safer with someone else. Life starts to seem overwhelming and extremely difficult. However, puppy blues does not last forever.
You need to remember why you got the dog in the first place. Nothing compares to the love of your dog. You may have a rocky start, but it is all worth it when that bond grows strong. Your dog will be a massive part of your mental and emotional health. Thus, do not let a case of puppy blues separate you from your puppy. Get help from a licensed mental health professional to guide you through this challenging situation.
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How many dogs do you have? Did you ever suffer from puppy blues? How did you deal with it? Please share your experiences in the comment section below so that others who might be suffering from puppy blues can know about your experience and how to survive puppy blues.
See you in my next article.