Canine Behaviour: Depression – Causes and Fixes


Canine depression is a very real problem that is often distressing for pet owners. Like humans, depression affects many dogs to a certain degree at some point in life. Sometimes certain dogs have a predisposition to depression, but dogs also grieve over loss or change.

Cause and Effect

There are a number of catalysts that can cause depression in canines, such as:

  • Moving house
  • Old age
  • The death of another pet
  • Illness
  • A change in the house hold dynamic (family members moving out, a new baby, illness of key person etc.)
  • Boredom

Common symptoms of canine depression are often quite similar to what humans experience, including:

  • Sleeping more or less
  • Listless behaviour with less purpose
  • Not interacting or playing, withdrawn
  • Refusal to eat and/or drink

Ways to Approach Canine Depression

  • Offer plenty of exercise and mental stimulation . Give your dog exercise and mental stimulation to help improve his mood.
  • Encourage your dog to socialise. Try to get your dog socialising with a few friendly dogs and people every day to bring him out of his shell.
  • Reward positive behaviour. Reinforce the behaviour you want, from an alert tail wag to him eating his dinner. Do not fuss or pander to negative behaviours.
  • Do not yell or punish. This behaviour is often borne out of stress, so scolding your dog could make the situation worse.
  • Rule out any physical cause. It is important to determine that your dog is not suffering from any physical problems that are causing him to be withdrawn.
  • If in doubt, seek expert advice. If you are particularly concerned about your dog, ensure you consult a vet or a behaviourist for further advice.

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