“Maybe getting a new puppy was not such a good idea”, “I wish I have given this a more thorough thought,” or “Am I a horrible person for wanting to return my new pup?” – these are some of the doubts many new puppy parents face daily.
We put the accent on the word “many”. Overwhelmed by the challenges the new pup entails, many puppy parents start regretting their puppy-buying decision.
Instead of triggering joy and excitement, the new puppy’s presence triggers anxiety, stress, helplessness, or complete numbness.
This negative puppy-related set of feelings is popularly termed “puppy blue”.
Contrary to popular belief, puppy blues is a recognized and well-documented condition affecting thousands of pet parents worldwide.
Puppy Blues – What Is It And Why It Occurs?
Like human moms who often develop postpartum depression, puppy parents often feel down in the dumps or, as the popular medical term goes – puppy blues.
Yes, puppy blues is the human equivalent of postpartum depression. That is because raising a puppy does not differ from raising a kid – it is responsible, challenging, exhausting, and sometimes overwhelming.
When we see puppy commercials and movies, everything seems smooth and straightforward – the puppies are always well-behaved, and even if they are not, their shenanigans are funny and consequence-free. Therefore, it is not illogical for future puppy parents to expect their personal experience will resemble the one they see on TV.
However, once the new puppy arrives, the troubles start.
Raising a puppy is not always about hugs, kisses, and cuddles. It is also about mopping pee from the kitchen tiles, scooping poop from under the couch, sewing the thorn stitch from the vintage sofa, or collecting the feathers from the devoured pillow.
Not understanding the possibility of these situations is what causes puppy blues.
Simply put, you develop puppy blues if getting the dog does not change your life in the way you expected – things do not turn out as you initially imagined.
Top Puppy Blues Causes And Triggers
Developing a puppy blues is quite confusing. You were immensely excited about your new puppy, counting the days till its arrival, and now you are feeling sad and depressed.
So, what made your feelings change? The reasons for the change of heart are different among different people, but the following are most frequently reported:
- Getting a new pup means you are responsible for someone else’s life. Taking care of a puppy is pretty much like taking care of a baby – it entirely depends on you about everything. Understanding your responsibility’s greatness can be scary, especially if you are a first-time puppy parent.
- Your new pup makes you sleep deprived. Getting a new puppy means spending countless sleepless nights. New puppies cry a lot when in new environments and can hold it for long. Therefore, instead of sleeping, you will be spending most of your night comforting, cleaning, or waiting for your pup to pee in the backyard.
- You had unrealistic expectations. Even if you did your homework and thoroughly researched everything on the pup care subject, reading does not prepare you. Things are much different when you are experiencing them first-hand.
These are the most common reasons puppy parents develop puppy blues.
However, as mentioned, the reasons can vary among different people, and the following factors are often considered as contributing:
1. A New Pup Is A Long-term Financial Commitment
The purchase cost is just the beginning.
You will need more money for everyday things, such as food and water bowls, beds, toys, treats, dog food, leash, collar, and last but not least, vet expenditures – vaccines, anti-flea treatments, de-worming preventatives, spay/neuter procedure, dental cleanings and so much more.
Make sure that you understand the cost of owning a dog before you get one.
2. A New Pup Means Stepping Into Pee Poodles All The Time
Potty training is a significant issue among first-time pup parents. Before learning where to pee, the new puppy must acclimate to its new living environment, and this can take time.
Even when it remembers where the toilet is, it will still make mistakes as young pups have small and slowly-developing bladders that simply cannot hold.
If you wake up to several pee poodles in the living room, chances are you will feel wrong about your new puppy.
3. Your New Pup Has An Attention-seeking Personality
Some adult dogs are more dependent on human interaction and attention than others. However, young puppies are always extremely human-dependent.
Young pups thrive on human companionship, affection, and attention, and some of you may find this to be a consuming, full-time job that results in the loss of your freedom.
4. Taking Care Of A Pup Increases Your Workload
The smaller the puppy, the more duties you will have around it. However, in this regard, things definitely get better.
5. A New Puppy Means A Lot Of Demolished Furniture And Chewed Shoes
Puppies, especially during their teething phase, love chewing on objects. If your beloved shoes are destroyed in the process or a vintage sofa ruined, it is only reasonable for you to feel disappointed.
Once again, more often than not, this problem is present only during the teething phase. When your dog grows its new pair of permanent teeth, it will outgrow its chewing habit.
Plus, you can prevent the chewing by offering plenty of chewing toys and keeping the pup in a crate while not supervised.
6. Your New Pup Is Mischievous And Bad-mannered
Same as kids, puppies do not come well-behaved and mannered. It takes a lot of time, patience, and proper training techniques to raise a pup into a well-mannered adult dog.
If this is something you cannot deal with it, there are professional trainers, and you can always hire one.
7. Your New Pup And Your Child Are Not Getting Along
This situation usually develops if the puppy is in the teething phase and your kid likes rough play or simply is not aware that its actions are hurting or torturing the pup.
It is not uncommon for the puppy to snap and react badly to your kid’s love demonstrations. As most mentioned problems, this one is transient too.
You will be surprised by how quickly your child and your new dog will become the best of friends.
Puppy Blues Duration
When faced with feelings of regret, new puppy parents often wonder how long the puppy blues phase will last? Or does the puppy blues phase ever end?
Sadly, there is no one-type-fits-all answer to the first question. Luckily, the answer to the second question is yes.
Every person is different, every puppy is different, and consequently, every human to puppy interaction is different. Therefore, the answer to the puppy blues phase longevity is not straightforward.
However, in most situations, the puppy blues go away as soon as you gain control over the situation or build up enough confidence to believe things will turn out alright.
Usually, this happens after three to four weeks of co-living with your new canine roommate.
At that point, your new puppy will be more or less potty trained and capable of going to sleep without crying and seeking comfort.
Timeline Of The Puppy’s (And The Puppy Blues) Development
There are important developmental milestones in every puppy’s life. Usually those milestones coincide with points at which your life will get easier.
Week 1 To Week 3
In most cases, the first three weeks are hardest – for both you and your new pup. You are both thrown into a new situation, you need to find a way of co-existing and learn what is acceptable and what is not. This is usually much harder than it sounds.
Week 4 To 3 Months
At this time it is safe to say that the new puppy is potty trained. Do not get confused – accident can still occur but they are not very frequent. As it reaches the age of three months, your puppy will know its name and some basic commands like come and sit.
3 Months To 4 Months
At this point, your puppy will be fully vaccinated and allowed to go out, mingle with friends and socialize. In addition to having long-term benefits, socialization is good for the puppy’s momentary mental and physical wellbeing.
If nothing else, playing with friends will tire it and we all know that a tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy.
4 Months To 6 Months
This is your pup’s teething phase which means you are probably back at square one when it comes to handling easiness.
During teething puppies experience pain and irritation and they often exhibit those feelings through destructive chewing. It is normal to expect some biting and nipping during this timeframe.
6 Months To 1 Year
These are the puppy teenage years and we all know what that means – they understand what you are saying but choose to ignore it.
Not because there is a reason but simply because they can. On the bright side, once the teenage years are over, things only change for the better.
After 1 Year
When your puppy reaches the age of one, it becomes the dog you always pictured and imagined. It is well-behaved, fully socialized, and eager to please.
This is the time point at which you will regret ever regretting the decision to get a new dog.
A Guide To Coping With Puppy Blues
Just like countless puppy parents before you, you will get through too. There is no magic spell for transforming puppy ownership into a smooth and carefree experience.
However, there are some simple yet efficient coping mechanisms.
Keep In Mind Everything Is Finite
This refers to both the good and the bad – the puppy kisses and hugs, same as the sleepless nights and peeing accidents; they are all temporary.
You and your puppy are going through puppyhood only once, so it is advisable to enjoy the process as much as you can while it lasts.
Once your puppy is all grown up, you will wish to turn the clock back and relive the experiences you missed the first time around.
Be Realistic About Your Expectations
Managing your expectations is the brick and mortar of combating puppy blues. Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst is the right strategy.
Before getting your new pup, imagine all the worst scenarios and make a rough plan of how you would fix each of them.
That way, once the puppy arrives, you will have already crafted solutions, and who knows, maybe your puppy will not bring those worst scenarios to life at all, which will be a significant relief.
Be Open To New Strategies
Achieving and staying into survival mode can only add to your “blue” feelings. You need to be proactive and research different approach methods.
If your approach does not work, it does not mean nothing will – there are crate training, clicker training, increased exercise regimens, doggy daycare facilities.
Finally, do not be afraid to seek professional help – dog trainers make a living out of dealing with “bad” dogs.
Improve Your Support System
Puppy blues is an often misunderstood, mental health difficulty. To improve your support system, talk to a friend that is a good listener and you know will understand.
Someone who knows how much you love your puppy and having your expectations crushed does not make you love it any less.
If helpful, do not hesitate to call a therapist or start writing a journal – the goal is to get those feelings expressed and out of you.
Treat Yourself With Some “Me Time”
Enroll your puppy in a daycare facility, hire a dog sitter or simply ask a friend to take care of your pup so you can enjoy some well-deserved “me time”.
Go do what you love, run a mile, hike, chat with friends, have a latte in your favorite coffee shop or simply get a good nap, the aim is to do something that is simply for you.
Never Punish Your Puppy For Your Messy Feelings
If your puppy chews up your favorite pair of heels, it is not because it wants to hurt you deliberately. It is because your pup sees them as giant chewing toys.
It is important not to lose your temper and patience in moments like that. Spanking, intimidating, yelling and physical punishing are not acceptable behaviors and training techniques.
In fact, they can have an opposite effect and make it even harder for you and your puppy to build a strong, positive relationship in the long-run.
Letting Go Is Acceptable
In some cases, holding on is more devastating and damaging than letting go. Acknowledging that neither you nor your puppy is happy and finding it a new home is the ultimate selfless, act of love.
Managing your expectations and knowing precisely what to expect may spare you from developing puppy blues.
Before you get your new pup, you need to accept the fact that there is not always going to be sunshine and rainbows. There will be messes to clean up and long sleepless nights to go through. And that is entirely normal.
However, even if you do develop this mental ailment, it is not the end of the world.
Many puppy parents are dealing with the same daily issues as you. You need to understand you are not alone, and you need to understand that puppy blues are just temporary.
In just a blink of the eye, your puppy will be an adult dog, and you will regret ever regretting your decision.
Learn to enjoy every single moment of your dog’s life because there are no re-runs of its puppyhood chapter.
You may find it hard to believe, but trust me, you will miss those puppyhood days. It is a wild experience – I know it, I have been there.