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
- A change in the house hold dynamic (family members moving out, a new baby, illness of key person etc.)
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- Not interacting or playing, withdrawn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 It is important to determine that your dog is not suffering from any physical problems that are causing him to be withdrawn.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.