Just like humans; dogs can become withdrawn and listless. Dogs are very social animals and can become sad lonely or even depressed. Is your dog reluctant to eat, drink or go on walks? Does he/she no longer seem to enjoy things that would previously be a source of excitement such as car rides or dog parks?
While we can’t send your dog to a counselor, we can look at the circumstances in your dog’s life and try to pinpoint changes.
- Have you recently moved or added a new dog or family member to the household?
- Has a member of the household moved or gone away to college?
- Did another household pet pass away?
- Is your dog anxious or fearful of something in or around the house such as a scary new household appliance or a new dog in the neighborhood?
- Has there been a recent change to your dog’s diet?
If you are unable to pinpoint an obvious source of your dog’s emotional change, veterinarians warn that these symptoms may also be signs of a medical condition. You may want to get a checkup for your dog just to be safe.
It is important that we seek to understand the changes and try to pinpoint causes so we can help our pups move forward. Oftentimes our dogs don’t understand their feelings and resort to destructive behavior such as chewing things around the house. While this sort of behavior will undoubtedly get them attention, it isn’t the type of attention that you or your pup want. As a last resort, veterinarians sometimes prescribe some of the same depression medications that we use for humans.
If your dog is depressed due to the loss of a human or animal companion, this might be time to consider getting another dog to keep him or her company. Mentally stimulating activities such as walks, dog parks and brain games are great ways to help give your dog confidence and help them naturally overcome their funk. A training program utilizing positive reinforcement and deliberate, scaled socialization can work wonders for a dog that has withdrawn emotionally. Further, a skilled dog trainer can work with you to teach your dog new commands and skills to further boost confidence and feelings of accomplishment to develop the bond between you and your dog.