Canine Depression - How to Put the Zest Back Into Your Dog's Life

By Karen A. Soukiasian

Canine depression is not uncommon. There are loads of reasons for it, but the good news is, there are simple solutions to make your dog happy again.

The first thing you must do is evaluate what changes have gone on in your dog's life. Look at it from their perspective. Your dog is more in tune with what is going on than you realize. Once you recognize what may be the root of your dog's melancholy, the next step is making the commitment to address it.

Factors to consider are:

Is there trouble in the home? Is there be more and louder arguing? Are doors being slammed and things being thrown? Is your dog hiding?

Are you becoming neglectful...maybe even abusive?

Has your dog lost a treasured companion, be it human or another pet? Has their teen aged best friend gone away to college? Has a spouse moved out? Are the kids they once played with, now in school all day? Dogs are pack animals. They suffer from loss. The loss of an animal or human companion can cause grave depression.

Has their daily routine been disrupted? Are you spending fewer and shorter periods of interacting with them? Have they become invisible? Are they now more of an annoyance than enjoyment? Their feeling of abandonment is a serious matter to consider.

Have you changed the daily or weekly activities your dog so eagerly awaits? For example, going for car rides, walks around the neighborhood and trips to the dog park or beach are important to your pet's well-being.

Are you tossing your dog alone in the backyard more often? Why not...the yard is fenced!

Has your regular schedule changed? Are you putting in longer hours at work? New love interest keeping you away from home? Are you spending more time running from one end of town to the other, for the kid's sports and social activities?

Are they left home alone more often and for longer periods of time with nothing to stimulate them? Are they crated for unreasonable amounts of hours per day?

Is there a new baby in the house? Because of that, is your dog ignored more or shunted away?

Have you introduced a new pet into your home...and they are getting more attention than your "old" dog?

Have you stopped challenging your dog's mental capability? No new training? No more new tricks? Challenge their brains! It keeps them sharp.

If any of these reasons sound familiar, stop and think. If roles were reversed, how would you feel?

Usually, all it requires is just a little more of your time. Luckily, dogs have no concept of time. They live in the present. Giving them a few precious minutes in the morning and evening from your demanding day is the most priceless gift you can give them. They will feel acknowledged and valued.

Break their boredom! Give them a quick walk, car ride or fun "field trip." A five minute car ride works wonders for some dogs. An hour at a dog park is well worth the time. Dogs need exercise and interactions with other dogs.

If there has been a loss of a beloved human or animal companion, allow them to grieve, but not dwell. Try to keep then busy. Should you attempt to transfer that needed sense of companionship; allow your dog pick out whom or what they want to live with. Don't assume you know what's best for them. You would not appreciate anyone picking a person for you, never mind insist that you like him or her! Take your dog on a field trip to a rescue or shelter...see who or what stirs a sense of mutual camaraderie in your pet. Don't force things to happen. They will at the right time.

If there is a new baby or pet in the house, put aside a few minutes in the morning and evening to focus solely on your "old" buddy. Slowly introduce the new pet or child into your interactions, so your dog will welcome the previously begrudged addition.

Don't shut them out! Put a rug or dog bed in the baby's room; train your dog to go to their "place" when you are in the nursery. That way they feel included without getting in the way. This special time also helps your dog bond with, rather than resent your child.

Enroll in a positive reinforcement, punishment-free obedience class. It will brush up your training skills, plus allow your dog to socialize with new people and other dogs. Doing the homework will also require you spend time with your dog. Challenge your dog's skills! They will do their best to please you.

If you absolutely don't have a second to devote to you pet, sign them up at a local doggie day care. It breaks the monotony of sitting home alone all day, waiting for the sound of your key in the lock! The social interaction with other dogs is a terrific way to break their funk. They more often than not, come home so tired all they want to do is eat and head for their bed.

Don't toss them out in the backyard alone for hours. Boredom invites trouble. Many inappropriate behaviors are caused by boredom. You may find things destroyed or holes the size of Texas. Toss a ball. Play with them. Give them a few minutes of solid exercise and fun. Tire them out! That way they won't mind as much should you have to leave them for awhile.

When possible, take them with you to the children's sports activities. Socialization sure beats isolation.

Bottom line: The only thing worse than a bad dog, is a sad dog. It doesn't take much to make them happy. Figure out what element is missing. Identify what recent change is making your dog act depressed. It will well be worth your effort to put the zest back into their life. Who doesn't want a happy dog?

Karen A. Soukiasian
Article by Karen A. Soukiasian
Karen A. Soukiasian, GOOD DOG! - DOG TRAINING and BED-n-BISCUITS dog boarding and training - Owner/Trainer, St. Augustine, Florida - AKC CANINE GOOD CITIZEN and S.T.A.R. PUPPY Evaluator. Visit my website at: and my page at Facebook.