The Puppy Blues: I Adopted A Dog And Now I Regret It

The Puppy Blues: I Adopted A Dog And Now I Regret It. Photo of a dog with a sad face.

You’ve been looking forward to bringing home your new furry addition forever! So, why are you suddenly regretting it? And what do you need to know about it? Take a look and learn about the puppy blues below.

A specialized form of depression, the “puppy blues,” refers to a period directly after the excitement of your new puppy wears off. Pet parents, especially ones who have a puppy for the first time, feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and at a loss for how to care for their new puppy. It can often feel like a blend of depression and anxiety, sometimes to the point of panic.

Many find themselves wondering if their puppy would be better off with someone who is “better prepared.” This phenomenon is widespread, and below is everything you should about why you’re feeling this way and, most importantly, what to do about it.

Is it normal to feel sad after getting a puppy?

After all, you may see nothing but heart emojis and other positive comments on social media from other new puppy owners, right? The thing is, it’s normal to feel sad after getting a puppy.

The reality never lives up in the expectation. After all, the expectations don’t include potty training and stopping your pup from eating your favorite shoes. But reality does include those things. Puppy blues is much more typical than most admit, but it comes in different degrees.

What is post puppy depression?

Let’s get some detail on what exactly is going on. Puppy blues is otherwise known as post-puppy depression. If that sounds somewhat familiar to you, that’s because it’s similar to post-partum depression. This condition impacts new parents in the first few weeks and months of having a new baby.

While post-partum depression is different from post-puppy depression, there are many similarities in the emotions. Common symptoms and emotions include:

  • Moderate to severe sadness
  • Lack of interest in caring for your puppy
  • Anger or even hatred towards your new puppy
  • Regret toward bringing them home
  • Feeling entirely overwhelmed
  • Hopelessness

All of these symptoms of post-puppy depression can come and go or be present at all of the same time. Some days, one or two of them will be stronger than others. You might even feel that you slide back and forth between depression and joy, from one day (or even one hour) to another. This is all perfectly normal on the roller coaster of adjusting to a new puppy or dog in your home.

Is it normal to regret adopting or buying a puppy?

Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but there are general trends in adjusting. It is perfectly “normal” to regret adopting or buying a puppy in more cases than not. The main thing that separates one situation from another is the condition’s intensity. 

First-time dog owners will have severe anxiety over everything from feeding to potty training to leaving their new addition home alone. This is totally normal, and it will fade with time as the new owner adjusts to their first dog’s needs since they are learning as they go.

This is much the same as any life-altering change. It takes time and trust in the reality that things will change. This anxiety can apply to bringing a puppy home or a full-grown adult or senior dog home. If it’s your first time with any of those age groups, you can expect that anxiety to play a role.

If you are bringing home a puppy, regardless of how experienced you are with dogs, this will be a whole brand new experience. Any guesses on what that brings? That’s right, a whole lot of anxiety, leading many to feel entirely overwhelmed! 

From a first-time dog owner to a first-time puppy parent, there is anxiety and depression, and frustration all around. Don’t let social media or anyone around you tell you otherwise!

Why do I regret getting a dog?

It’s a valid question. You did your research carefully, and you picked a dog breed for your lifestyle and availability. You’re prepared for toilet training and obedience training, and so on. So, why are you now starting to feel regret about your decision, even though you don’t want to? Common reasons include:

  • The new sense of responsibility
  • The amount of effort involved
  • Your energy is low
  • It feels neverending

The new sense of responsibility

A puppy is a huge responsibility. No matter how cute that puppy is or how dedicated you are to taking care of this new furry bundle of joy, they’re a tiny and defenseless baby that is suddenly reliant on you for everything.

Just like any other new addition, your life must now revolve around interpreting what this puppy wants and making sure that you meet that need. Having that new responsibility is intense and overwhelming, no matter how prepared you think you are!

The amount of effort involved

Within the first few days of caring for your puppy and all of their needs, you won’t have the capacity to put in as much effort as you did. You’re tired, and you still have the rest of your life to care for. But, your puppy still requires that effort. You will start to feel the limits of that effort and ability start to stretch. This can lead to you feeling as though you just can’t put in the effort required, so why try?

Your energy is low

As if the limits of your effort weren’t enough, this is further complicated with the fact that you are tired. Like, really tired. Puppies take up so much energy and stress, and time that you’re going to feel exhausted, just like any new parent with a baby would.

Yet you still need to do all of those things instead of sleeping it off and feeling refreshed again. Over and over again. This will make any loving puppy parent feel the blues!

It feels neverending

This is perhaps the leading cause of puppy blues in many pet parents who are prepared for their new addition. This new puppy will feel like more work than you were prepared for, and it is going to feel like it’s neverending.

When you get up to clean up another pee puddle or to remove a shoe from your puppy’s mouth, you feel like this is going to be your future forever. 

All of these things combine to create a pretty depressing and stressful outlook, right? Exactly. So, even in the best-case scenario, there’s going to be a downturn when the new reality sets in.

Photo of a sad dog behind bars.

What is second dog syndrome?

The puppy blues are even more common when combined with what’s called the second dog syndrome. This is when you add a new puppy to a household with a dog already.

You remember how much you enjoyed having that puppy and dog and want to enjoy that again. However, having this new addition will stretch your resources thinner than a single dog household.

You also have to put a lot of work into ensuring that your new dog doesn’t feel neglected. You need to give your first and second dogs dedicated time and somehow keep everything else going. But no pressure.

How long does puppy blues last?

Whether it’s classic puppy blues or the second dog syndrome, the essential thing you’re wondering is how long does it last? Most experts agree that it’s the rule of 3s.

There will be 3 intervals where you can assess your puppy or dog’s behavior and grasp where it’s going to go. These are:

  • 3 days
  • 3 weeks
  • 3 months

3 days

After 3 days, your puppy is starting to settle in. They are still sorting everything out and exploring new places, smells, and people. But, this will give you the beginnings of their routine. This is too early to assess how your life will be with your puppy.

At this 3-day mark, you’ll notice that they might be relaxing a bit and starting to adjust to the fact that they are away from their new siblings. The shock of the move is starting to wear off. But the rest is still to come!

3 weeks

At this point, your puppy is firmly settling in. They’ve adjusted to your habits and your schedule. Their true personality has come out — for better or worse — and you’ll start to see just what they are going to be like.

At this stage, they’re still adjusting, so you’ll still find that they take some effort and energy when it comes to obedience training. You should notice an improvement from some of the basic ones, though, such as a feeding schedule and potty training.

At this point, you’ll begin to find your puppy blues lifting a bit, though it’s okay if you’re still feeling it. 

3 months

Experts agree that puppy parents can use this as the “settling in” ending. After 3 months in your home on a schedule, your puppy is comfortable being part of the family.

You may find that they’ve settled down quite a bit and are easier to care for. This is a blend of them understanding how to be part of things, and you’re adjusting to caring for them.

Most find that their puppy blues are fading, or it may even have gone entirely. It’s just “life as usual” now. That doesn’t mean that you have to feel elated all the time, of course, but rather that you feel less overwhelmed and depressed about your decision to bring home a puppy!

How do you beat the puppy blues?

If you’re still working your way through the first few weeks and months, you don’t need to simply suffer through it alone. You can beat them using a combination of a few things, including:

  • Trust that it won’t always be this bad
  • Take a breath and actively calm yourself
  • Get support
  • Look for the positives
  • Journal your progress
  • Make time for yourself

Trust that it won’t always be this bad

Remember the rule of 3s from above? This is part of it. What you feel now, at 3 weeks, won’t be nearly as hard as what you feel at 3 months. Trust that there is an actual process to your puppy settling in and that it will move into more enjoyable times sooner than you think.

Take a breath and actively calm yourself

Dogs and puppies pick up on our energy. If you are stressed to the maximum and angry, your dog will respond to that, and it will put them on edge, too. It’s important to do what you can to stay calm, kind, and warm. This will help your dog feel safe, and they will settle in faster. While it’s normal to have your own emotions, never take out your frustration of puppy blues on your puppy or dog.

Get support

When you feel overwhelmed and stressed out, get some support! This means support from your family and loved ones that can help share in on doggy duty, but also a professional.

If one or two behaviors are confusing and upsetting, call a pet behaviorist and have them weigh in. Understanding the reason for these behaviors can help you meet your dog’s needs and understand what they are feeling better.

Look for the positives

There will be something positive in each day spent with your puppy or your dog. Make sure that you make an effort to find that positive moment, even on those challenging and frustrating days. It will help you see that you are moving in the right direction and also that you are keeping everything in perspective.

Journal your progress

This is an important and overlooked part of your puppy timeline! Journal progress in terms of their behavior and your emotions related to it! As time goes on, you’ll notice more positives and fewer negatives as their behavior changes.

When you have a hard day, flip back through that journal and see just how well you really are doing. It’ll help you breathe much easier and feel better about whatever negatives are happening in the current moment!

Make time for yourself

This is also overlooked a lot. A new puppy is a lot of pressure a lot of emotional upkeep. From 3 days to 3 months, make it a point to take time for yourself. You have to take care of yourself in all essential ways; otherwise, you just make it harder on yourself. Self-care is essential for new moms and dads, including those with new furry children!

Black and white photo of two dogs in a kennel.

I adopted a dog, and I’m having second thoughts…what should I do?

Firstly, you aren’t alone. This is a common problem with even the most attentive and excited dog parents. The puppy blues is a sliding scale, and it’s important to note where you are. Acknowledging that you’re suffering from puppy blues is vital since you will begin to arm yourself with the support and guidance you need to make a positive change!

Secondly, being a new pet parent is hard work! It just is, no matter how you look at it. See that for what it is. 

Most importantly, take the time to figure out what to do. One of the best things that you can do is what you’re doing right now: learning about puppy blues!

What to do if you regret getting a puppy?

If you’re concerned about the amount of regret that you’re feeling about your new puppy. In that case, you might need to take a few specific steps about that realization.

What is your regret focused on? Is it on not doing it at a different time? Is it about working all day and coming home to a needy puppy? Is it about lack of support in these early weeks and months? Understanding what you regret is important to know what steps you need to take.

Talk to someone that’s been through this, too. Bottling it up inside just makes it more challenging. From social media forums to simply chatting with a recent puppy parent over coffee, it can help you see that your problems are not unique — but in a good way. They’ll have some great tips and suggestions, too!

After the assessment, you may feel that rehoming is your best choice in some situations. Perhaps you’ve not had the success you wanted in 4 to 6 months, or your situation has changed, and you are now away from home for a long time and can’t care properly for your deserving puppy. If you choose this, make sure that you make this decision slowly and carefully. It should only be as a last resort.

Do dogs feel abandoned when rehomed?

Humans tend to anthropomorphize dogs! Dogs don’t feel abandoned when rehomed since they don’t process emotion or change the same way that we do. They don’t understand that they are being rehomed, but rather everything is new and different. This is much the same as when they came to live with you, too!

A move for a dog is confusing, and it’s also overwhelming. It will take them a wild to adjust to their new home and new humans. This traumatic shift in their living situation is why you should only use rehoming as a last resort.

Is rehoming a dog cruel?

No! Rehoming a dog is not cruel at all. That being said, it should not be the first solution to puppy blues since it causes so much stress for your dog.

Rehoming is a good idea if something changes outside your control (such as a diagnosis of an illness or that the dog is simply out of control and no amount of pet behaviorist work can help).

In these situations, the kindest thing you can do is rehome the dog to somewhere correctly suited for their needs. Adopters and charities will take dogs as a surrender, but most will ask for a reason. Just keep that in mind.

Can I give my rescue dog back?

Most rescue organizations will happily take back a previously adopted puppy or dog. They will often ask for a reason, however. They will often take back a dog only after a certain amount of time (6 months, for instance), precisely because they will be well acquainted with the puppy blues!

When should you give up on a rescue dog?

Below are some of the examples of when you can “give up” on a dog, especially after several months with no change:

  • If your situation has changed
  • If you’ve done everything in your power to work, and it isn’t 
  • If the dog refuses to settle in

After time and patience, and love, these situations mean that you have to seek out a different placement for your dog. Does it mean that you have to give up on your dog? No! But these are all examples of when most rescues and charities will happily take back your puppy or dog.

How do I transition my dog to a new owner?

In deciding to move your dog to a new owner, you must prepare for yourself that it will still be hard despite the stress and reason for doing so. You’ve bonded with this dog, after all.

You can help make the transition easier by writing notes for the new owner on certain personality traits. This can help them “pick up where you left off” as much as possible. It also prepares them for their new addition.

The other thing is to prepare yourself to let them go. Don’t linger over the goodbyes to sob into their fur. It will only further distress them. Stay as clean, controlled, and calming as possible for their sake and yours!

How do I cope with giving my dog away?

Coping with giving your dog up is brutal in its own way. Especially since not everyone around you will understand why you are doing it. When coping with this loss, remember:

  • Dogs are adaptable and will be okay
  • Your dog will settle into their new home 
  • They will fit better with another home
  • This is for the best for both of you.

To help with your emotions, consider writing a letter. Address it to the new owner or the charity taking them, and explain why you made your decision. Really pour your heart out and explain how much you want what’s best for this dog.

Anyone who loves animals will feel the turmoil you have, and you won’t face any kind of hate from those whose opinions matter. You can choose, then, to give that letter to the adopter or charity, or just to keep it for yourself on a hard day.

Giving your dog away is a loss, and you’ll need to grieve it as a loss. It will take time and a lot of tears, but everyone will be better off for it. Keep that front of mind!

In general

This is a specialized and often temporary form of depression that involves adjusting to life with a new puppy or dog.

Emotionally overwhelming and surprisingly long-lasting, puppy blues is a real thing that needs to be addressed and dealt with for everyone’s benefit. There is support available to help pet parents transition to easier times.

The puppy blues are much more common than most people think and come in varying degrees. Understanding what they are, what to do about them, and when to change your life will help you weather the storm and make it through to the other side!

Know someone who is struggling with this right now? Share this with them to help!

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Dog Advisory Council

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