Got The Puppy Blues? You’re Not Alone
New puppies are a LOT of work.
You might think the hardest part about adopting a new puppy is picking out a name. But you’ll quickly discover that choosing a name is the least of your concerns.
Because adopting a puppy is actually hard — like, really hard.
But you don’t see people really talk about the puppy blues, which is a name for the feelings of frustration, stress, sadness and regret that lots of people experience after getting a puppy (and yes, this a real thing!).
One evening she wouldn’t stop barking, seemingly at nothing, and nothing I did could stop her — I was honestly afraid that neighbors would complain.
One top of that, I was constantly taking her to the vet — at least once per week. Yes, there were scheduled visits, like her first visit after I adopted her and her spay surgery, but I also found myself taking her for things like sneezing and eye goop. (You would think writing about pets and their illnesses would make me an expert, but really it’s just made me anxious about all the things that could be wrong with her.)
Not to mention my puppy tries to jump on everyone, literally yelps when they won’t pet her, and pulls on the leash so hard my arm practically comes out of the socket (she may be small, but she’s crazy-strong).
I called my parents multiple times saying I can’t handle this and can’t handle her, telling them I wouldn’t be able to take care of this dog.
But almost immediately, I felt terrible for even considering the thought. After all, she was a tiny puppy who had gone from a shelter to a foster home, and then finally to me, so she had a lot to adjust to.
I also thought that I was the only one to feel this way, since from the looks of it, no one else had these issues. All you see are cute pictures on Instagram, but people rarely talk about how hard having a new puppy actually is — which can make you feel like you’re all alone in your struggles.
But after a few months of getting used to a new routine with my dog (which, spoiler, included lots of training!), I was able to get over the puppy blues and just have fun hanging out with her.
It was hard, but I’m here to tell you it’s possible!
Why do people get the puppy blues?
The puppy blues are actually really normal.
A puppy will totally change your lifestyle, which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Once you get a puppy, you realize that your schedule has to revolve around her now. If she has to go out at 3 in the morning, you have to take her. And you can’t stay out all night because you can only leave her alone for so long.
Plus, realizing that you’re completely responsible for this animal can naturally feel daunting. It’s basically like having a whole child.
For most people, all of this is on top of working a full-time job and trying to keep up with everything else going on in their lives. Add all of that to the sleep deprivation from your puppy not sleeping through the night, and it’s understandable that many people (myself included) feel overwhelmed, anxious and sad.
Advice for dealing with the puppy blues
If you have the puppy blues, don’t worry — they won’t last forever. I’ve had my puppy for a couple of months now, and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable as a new dog parent.
But until then, there are some ways you can deal with the puppy blues.
- Sign your puppy up for training classes ASAP, or start training her yourself as soon as she comes home (more tips on this below).
- If your puppy’s like mine and has more energy than all the dogs at the park combined, take her to the dog park before work so she doesn’t try to play with you all day while you’re working. If there’s a dog day care nearby, take her there a couple days a week for when you really need some alone time.
- Put potty pads in the crate over your dog’s mat so you don’t have to wash the bed every time your pup has an accident (I learned this the hard way).
- If your puppy’s throwing up in the morning, try giving her a snack before bed. It’s possible she’s getting sick from not having enough food in her stomach.
- If you’re a germaphobe like me, get some puppy wipes to clean her paws every time you get inside, and get a good enzymatic cleaner.
- Remember to take care of yourself while you’re caring for your pup. Schedule time to hang out with friends, watch a TV show you love or go to a workout class.
Possibly most importantly, learn to be patient — which I can personally attest is easier said than done — and ask for help when you need it. Talk to friends with dogs, your vet or a dog trainer.
Also remember that the puppy phase won’t last forever. Eventually, your pup will be trained, calm down, and stop having accidents and chewing things. (But she, unfortunately, won’t be puppy-sized forever, either.)
Training your puppy
One of the best things you can do for your puppy is to start training right away. Training is super important for helping puppies learn impulse control so they don’t jump on everyone they meet or try to eat everything off the street.
It’s also important that your pup knows to listen to you, especially in case she gets off the leash.
And if your pup isn’t properly trained, she can grow up to have behavioral problems, since she never learned not to bark at people or not to chew up your rugs. Not to mention that people tend to get a little more annoyed (or even scared) when a fully grown dog jumps on them than they do when a tiny puppy does it.
Training also provides your dog with mental stimulation, which will keep her from getting bored and tire her out.
I can’t emphasize enough how training has been a huge help for me and my puppy. Now she listens to me when I say sit or down (we’re still working on the leash walking), and she’s become much calmer around other people and dogs, so I don’t have to worry as much about people thinking I have a badly behaved dog.
Taking care of a puppy is definitely hard, but you’ll get the hang of it. And you’ll be happy you stuck with your dog, no matter how difficult it was.