Most of us have heard of the ‘baby blues’, but have you heard of ‘puppy blues’? Bringing a new life into your home is a massive change. And some degree of post puppy depression is not unusual No matter how prepared you may be. And it has a significant effect on every member of the family.
Sometimes, after the excitement of the first few days has worn off, and tiredness has set in. We can find ourselves feeling a bit down. Of course, with a puppy, your body isn’t awash with hormones like it is after giving birth, and the enormity of the responsibility is not on the same scale. But for many people nevertheless, there can come a period after the arrival of a puppy when all is not well.
The Puppy Blues
The first few days have passed. ‘His cuddliness’ has got his feet firmly under the table, and maybe things are not quite how you imagined they’d be. You no longer want to drift away on the heavenly smell of puppy fur. In fact, the only place you want to drift away to, is your bed, which has not seen much ‘sleeping’ lately.
Tiredness is often part and parcel of the first few days with a new puppy in the house. And it always feels worse than you thought it was going to. When it goes on for more than a few days, the effects can be insidious. To add to your stress, the chances are the whole housetraining thing is not going to plan AT ALL, and your puppy’s behavior is not what you expected. You may find yourself wondering if your puppy is ‘normal’.
Is he a problem puppy?
If your puppy repeatedly takes a perverse delight in emptying his bladder in your kitchen, within five seconds of ‘supposedly’ emptying it outdoors, your patience may be wearing thin. You may even suspect that he is deliberately saving a bit, with which to decorate your carpets. If he pees in his own bed, and eats his own poop, you may wonder which way to turn. This was definitely not what you signed up for. And then there’s the biting, and the growling…
I don’t love my puppy
By the end of week one, you may be getting a little concerned. You had expected to fall madly in love with your puppy, yet right now, you are not even sure if you like him.
Friends have no sympathy. They think you are ungrateful. “Give him to us” they demand, half seriously “We’d love him”. And you are secretly tempted to do just that. Only your determination not to be a ‘failed puppy owner’ prevents you.
Actually, you do love your puppy. He isn’t a problem puppy, he’s normal. And if you feel like this, you are probably just experiencing a touch of the ‘puppy blues’.
Puppies grow up quite quickly. But whilst the trials and tribulations of life with a puppy are soon a thing of the past, it is not unusual for some new owners to feel quite depressed during these early weeks.
If you feel this way, if you secretly wish you had never bought a puppy home, remember this. You are not a bad person. Not even slightly. In fact, your feelings are quite common, its just that other people don’t talk much about them. It is a natural response to a big shift in your lifestyle. So hang on in there, because you will adjust, and help is at hand.
Getting your expectations in line
Your priority right now is to grab as much information as you can lay your hands on. You need to set aside some time for reading up to date, accurate, information and advice about puppies. Getting your expectations in line with reality is a key part of this. You need to know what is normal for puppies, and what is not.
House training takes weeks, not days. Puppies eat everything that they can fit in their mouths, bite like crocodiles and growl like tigers. And puppies don’t listen to anything anyone says. This is all normal. Knowing that your puppy is just like all other puppies, can be a great relief. So is knowing that your puppy won’t stay this way forever.
Getting some information
To discover how you can change your piddling, biting, bundle of naughtiness, into a ‘real’ dog you just need some information, some time, and a bit of support. We’ve left some links at the end of this guide to help you get started.
Getting some sleep
Your next priority is to get a good nights sleep. Lack of sleep makes everyone miserable so don’t plan on being immune to the effects. Many new puppy owners suffer badly from sleep deprivation, and there really is no need for this. Most importantly, sleep deprived people make terrible decisions.
If you are tempted to return the puppy to his breeder or give him away to your next door neighbour, this is not a decision to make on two hours and forty minutes of sleep snatched between visits to the garden. Sleep first, decisions later.
How to get some sleep
You cannot sleep if you can hear a puppy yelling. If your puppy is terrified to sleep alone, or hates being shut in his crate, it is ok to have him sleep in a box by your bed for the first few nights. If your house is big enough and your neighbours far enough away, you may prefer to have him sleep alone at the other end of the house, where no-one can hear him cry.
The truth is, he will come to no harm being left to cry for a few nights. You don’t need to sleep fitfully by his crate for the next fortnight. Nor will it spoil him rotten if he spends his first few nights in your bedroom, right next to your bed. If you leave him in a large pen with newspaper down for him to relieve himself, you won’t have to get up during the night. There are disadvantages to this as a long term strategy, but right now, if you are feeling miserable, you need to sleep.
Just get some sleep! OK? Then make a start on housetraining, and on getting those tiny teeth under control.
Get some help
Finally, but most importantly – get some help! You can do this alone, but you don’t need to! There is an entire community of Labrador owners waiting to comfort and advise you. Join them. And when you have got through the next few months, you may find yourself dishing out sympathy and advice to the next batch of shell-shocked puppy owners.
Many people get their whole world turned upside down by a puppy. And find it all just ‘too much’. There’s no need for this. You don’t have to train your puppy to ‘sit’, ‘lie down’ and ‘walk to heel’ in the first week.
Forget about obedience for the moment, focus on what’s important. Concentrate on what matters. Get your puppy’s housetraining and socialisation under way. Learn how his little puppy mind works, and find out how to change his behavior using modern, effective and fun methods. Read up a little on the theory, before rushing to put it into practice.
Everything you need to know is right here, on this website. And there is a superb support network just waiting to welcome you aboard. Don’t struggle on alone. We’ll help you get through it, together – and it’ll actually be fun
More help and information
If you enjoy Pippa’s articles, you will love her book: The Happy Puppy Handbook published in 2014. Now available in most countries, the handbook is already a bestseller in the UK.
You can buy The Happy Puppy Handbook from Amazon by following this link. If you do, The Labrador Site will receive a small commission which is greatly appreciated and won’t affect the cost to you!
If you prefer to do your reading online, you can get a great deal of the advice/information that is in the book, on this website, absolutely free. Just dive into the puppies section, and start reading.
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The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website