We brought home our second border collie puppy in January 2023. We’ve had foster puppies, and 6-month and older puppies over the years, but this one was different.

I’m not sure if the fact this puppy was the most high-energy dog we’ve had, or that adding this one made our pack of 3 into a pack of 4. But this is the first time I’ve experienced the puppy blues. 

In this article, we will explore what puppy blues are, why people experience them, and how to cope with them.

puppy running outside in grass with toy
Our puppy on the day we brought him home.

Puppy Blues Meaning

Puppy blues is a temporary feeling of anxiety or depression that new puppy or rescue dog owners experience. It is similar to the more commonly known postpartum depression, except it is associated with the addition of a new puppy or dog to the household rather than a baby.

The reality of caring for a new dog can be overwhelming, especially when the owner is not prepared for the change in their daily routine.

You may be wondering why you aren’t connecting with the new puppy, or the puppy to you. Puppies are adorable, funny and a little fluff ball.. what’s not to love, right? How about all the chewing, potty accidents, barking and sleepless nights?

You may be feeling guilty for having these feelings, but trust me, it is very common to be feeling overwhelmed right now. Please know you are not alone, and I hope that sharing my experience will help you in yours.

How to prevent puppy blues

If by chance you are here and haven’t adopted your puppy yet, then you are in the right place.

Preventing puppy blues from occurring in the first place can be achieved through careful planning and preparation.

Before bringing home a new puppy, potential pet owners should do their research and learn about the breed they are considering. This includes understanding the temperament, exercise needs, and potential health concerns.

Planning for the added expense of a new dog is also important, as veterinary bills, food costs, and other expenses associated with pet ownership can be substantial.

New pet owners need to start preparing for the arrival of a new puppy well in advance. This includes puppy-proofing the home, setting up a designated space for the puppy to sleep, and purchasing necessary supplies such as food, toys, and a crate. Developing a daily routine and schedule for the puppy can also help ease the transition and decrease stress in the household.

Preventing the puppy blues can be done by doing a lot of prep work. And Rescue Dogs 101 has all of the resources you need in your journey.

  1. Find many tips for adopting and bringing home a puppy or dog here. 
  2. Having a support system in place before getting a new puppy will help with the overwhelm.
  3. Consider fostering a puppy before getting a puppy of your own.
  4. Take our Should I get a dog? [quiz]

Even with all the careful planning we did before getting our last puppy, I still fell into the puppy blues. So if this is you, know you aren’t alone, it can affect anyone getting a puppy or even adopting an older dog.

cute black and white puppy

Puppy Blues Symptoms

The day after we brought home our new puppy, I started feeling angry, and short-tempered with my daughter and the dogs. Like being in a bad mood all day. I felt like we made a huge mistake getting this puppy and I wanted to return him.

Some symptoms and clues to watch for are:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite, leading to emotional eating or not eating
  • Crying
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling trapped
  • Guilt or shame
  • Hopelessness
  • Muscle tension, headaches, nausea, or stomach issues
  • Irritability
  • Overwhelm
  • Regret
  • Resentment toward the puppy/dog or family members
  • Sadness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tension or arguments with family members
  • Unable to focus
  • Wishing to return the puppy/dog

I felt many of these puppy blues symptoms. My cranky attitude went on for more than a week before I realized what I was doing. My feelings were making the puppy’s behavior worse! It was a vicious cycle… I was angry, he would bark and act out more which made me even angrier.

How long do puppy blues last?

Puppy blues can last a few days or a few months. You may notice symptoms the day you bring home your new puppy or dog, or it may hit you a few weeks later. Puppy blues is a very personal experience and will vary with each person and situation.

It’s very possible that even after 6 months of having your puppy or rescue dog that you are still experiencing the puppy blues. Try the following coping methods to help ease the struggle:

Coping with puppy blues

Coping with puppy blues can be a challenging process, but several strategies can make the experience more manageable.

New pet owners need to seek support and understanding from friends and family who have been through similar experiences.  

Talking with my family is what helped me. Once I realized I had the puppy blues, I talked with my family. Just having that conversation helped me change my mindset. It has been 3 months now and while I still have the occasional symptom, I feel much better, and the puppy is too!

Joining online communities, like our Rescue Dogs 101 private Facebook Community, can also help connect with other dog owners who understand the challenges of caring for a new puppy or rescue dog.

Additionally, seeking the guidance of a professional dog trainer can help new dog owners develop positive training techniques, ultimately improving the behavior of the puppy and decreasing stress within the household.

If the puppy blues is not going away or if you find yourself in severe depression or having thoughts of suicide, please seek professional help. Talking to a therapist or counselor can provide a safe space for individuals to work through feelings of anxiety and depression.

Your physical and mental health is priority number one. If after careful consideration and getting the help you need for yourself and the puppy, then rehoming may be the best solution.

Resources:

Conclusion

In conclusion, puppy blues are a common experience among new puppy/dog owners and can last days, weeks and even months.

Coping strategies such as seeking therapy, joining support groups, and training the puppy can help manage feelings of anxiety and depression.

Preventing puppy blues from occurring in the first place can be achieved through careful planning and preparation before bringing home a new puppy.

Owning a puppy can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, but pet owners need to be aware of the potential challenges that come with it. By understanding what puppy blues are, why they occur, and how to cope with them, new pet owners can make the transition to pet ownership a positive and fulfilling experience.

Please take a moment and leave a comment below, your experience can help others in our community feel they aren’t alone in this journey. And remember to join our private Facebook Community.

What’s Next?

About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}