Puppy Blues: How to Make Puppyhood a Little Easier
You love your new puppy. You love them! You absolutely adore their floppy ears and their fluffy paws and that cute way that they tilt their head when you tell them it’s time for dinner.
But, if you’re also having feelings of being overwhelmed or stressed, you’re not alone. After many sleepless nights, countless potty accidents, and hours and hours of endless puppy energy, it’s no surprise that you might be feeling a little frayed around the edges. In fact, this is so well-documented that there’s a term for it: the puppy blues.
In this article, we’re going to define the puppy blues and give you some helpful tips to get through it. The good news is, puppy blues typically go away in a matter of weeks. But with some help and support, you don’t have to go through it without a plan.
What are the puppy blues?
Maybe you heard of the studies showing that dogs can improve our health. And that’s true! Our furry friends can lower blood pressure and improve the quality of our sleep, among other benefits.
So, it might have surprised you to feel quite the opposite when you brought home your little bundle of joy. Some of the most common symptoms of the puppy blue include:
- Anxiety and a feeling of being overwhelmed
- Low self-esteem
- Frustration or lack of patience
- Guilt or shame
- Difficulty sleeping or relaxing
For some people, the puppy blues are strong enough that they might consider giving up their new dog. This is often due to feeling like an inadequate owner or being unable to provide a proper lifestyle for their puppy.
Older dogs can give you the puppy blues, too
Despite the name, the truth is, older adopted dogs can have a similar effect on new owners. Older dogs may come into a new family with established habits and issues that pose problems in their new setting. Or, it might just take a while for everyone in the home to adjust to the change.
What causes the puppy blues?
As much as you might have looked forward to owning a dog, any major life change can potentially have an impact on your mental health. There are also some puppy-specific reasons why you might be feeling overwhelmed right now:
- Lack of sleep. Maybe your puppy is struggling to sleep through the night or your stress about the new puppy is affecting your sleep.
- Not being fully prepared for puppyhood. No matter how many books you read or dog owners you spoke to, nothing really prepares you for owning a puppy except owning a puppy. So it’s normal to feel unprepared for every little thing that comes with it.
- Comparing yourself to others. If you’re comparing your experience with TikTok clips and training videos, you’re not getting a full picture of what goes into dog ownership. This can leave you feeling like an unsuccessful or inadequate owner.
- The emotional roller coaster of puppyhood. Puppies live constantly in extremes. Whether they’re playing, sleeping, or chewing up your furniture, they’re doing it at full capacity. This can leave you to feeling overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted.
- Social isolation. Maybe you’re worried about leaving your new puppy alone at home, or you’re waiting for your puppy to be fully vaccinated before taking them on adventures. Or perhaps you’re just too tired to leave the house. Whatever the case, having a new puppy can temporarily press pause on your social life.
What can you do to manage the puppy blues?
You might not be able to avoid the puppy blues completely. But these steps can help you manage the symptoms until you’re through the most difficult phases of puppyhood:
- Remind yourself that this is temporary. Sometimes a simple reminder that this isn’t going to last forever can help put things in perspective. This is hard now, but it’s going to get easier. Trust us.
- Set up a predictable schedule. Dogs thrive on predictability, and we humans do too! If you can get yourself and your new pup on a reliable schedule, you may both adapt more quickly to your new lifestyle.
- Don’t go it alone. Hiring a certified trainer in the early puppy months can be a huge help. They’ll be able to troubleshoot tricky behaviors and work on improving your bond with your little one.
- Increase your puppy’s mental stimulation activities. One of the common mistakes that new dog owners make is to try to tire their pup out physically so that they’re calmer in the house. To be sure, exercise is an important part of your dog’s healthy lifestyle. But too much can actually overstimulate them, put them at risk for developmental issues, and increase endurance over time. Instead, you might consider introducing mentally stimulating activities, such as interactive toys or treat-filled toys. You might also install BreezeGuards on your car windows so that your pup can take in all the sensory stimulation of the world outside while still staying safe in the car. These small changes can engage your pup’s mind so that they feel satisfied and tired.
- Find community. Sometimes, all you really need is to know that you’re not alone. Reading through funny and frustrated anecdotes on doggy forums and Reddit or connecting with a fellow puppy owner at the dog park can go a long way to making you feel supported.
- Take time for yourself. When you first get a puppy, it can feel like you should be dedicating all of your time to training, exercising, cleaning, and generally keeping them from causing too much destruction in your home. But the truth is, you need your time off, too. If you can, leave your dog in the care of a friend or dog sitter and give yourself a night out. You and your dog will benefit from your self care habits.
The fact that you’re seeking out solutions for this common new dog owner problem shows that you’re a dedicated pet parent! Trust yourself. This phase will pass and you and your doggo will be friends for life.