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Depression in Dogs

Dogs with depression are increasing everywhere we go, whenever we visit places like the beach, dog events or NEX playground we would always see dogs that are some what stressed / depressed. When we talk about depression in humans, right away we could more or less understand the behavior and symptoms of someone with this problem, this is because depression was introduced worldwide using all forms of education like advertisement, television, movies etc., if this were to happen to someone decades ago, no science would understand what was happening to the person, even doctors would not be able to diagnose the problem.

Depression in dogs are much harder to identify, but it is not impossible, learning to read your dog's behavior can help to reduce the possibility or even cure the problem. Normally depression is caused by extreme stress, and stress can be caused by many factors - breeds, genetics, human treatment, exercises, food, water etc. And when a dog is overly stressed, depression is formed, aggression will slowly appear, abnormal behaviors (eg. going in circles, hiding in coners) will start to show, certain health issues and many other symptoms that will also appear one by one.

When I mention stress caused by human treatment, I do not only mean physical abuse. Lack of leadership, exercise and training can also stress your dog, because when you have no leadership, your dog will have to fill in your position, having to take in extra jobs like guarding your door, barking at strangers, being concern about other dogs getting close and what not. If you think that dogs enjoy doing these, do consider again.

If you know what to look out for, anyone can easily identify for symptoms of stress in their dog.
Here's a list of symptoms which I personally believe would tell that a dog is feeling stressed, our objective is to identify the problem and solve it before this problem escalates to a point where it would have been too complicated to correct.

- separation anxiety (read here)
- snapping signs
- anti social behaviors
- ears always down, moody
- doesn't get excited about anything (food, walks, outing)
- loss of appetite, losing weight
- brittle nails
- health problem that vets cannot figure out the cause
- barking nonstop
- guarding/lunging at other dogs/people

If your dog has 3 or more of the above listed symptoms, it would be best if you monitor your dog closely to find out the cause and decide for yourself whether or not your dog is actually feeling stressed out.

Although we always try our best to explain the situation to other owners about their dogs, most ignore our advice and think that we are just joking. There was this time when I met an owner of a Maltese, this little dog was extremely anti social, it wouldn't want any contact with any dogs, not even humans, including it's owner. The owner would have to wait for it to walk, then he would follow behind the dog, otherwise he would have to drag this dog along the ground throughout the whole walk for years. When I saw this poor dog I talked to the owner, explaining about it's situation, how it is anti-social, ears always down and doesn't want to walk every single time with loads of pent up energy hidden inside. He laughed and told me that it is okay because he finds it cute, adding that there was no way to solve the problem, that his dog was born anti-social. I kindly asked for permission to handle the dog and bring it for a walk, he laughed in a sarcastic manner and agreed to let me spend some private walk with his dog. After 30 minutes I brought this dog back the owner, he was pretty shocked at how much the dog had changed - walking beside me, running and panting just like any other healthy dogs out there.

When I passed the leash to him, the dog was back to it's usual self, ears down, not walking, hiding away from any living thing. The guy then got embarrassed, even tried to imitate my "shh" command to his dog as joke to cover up for the embarrassment, I could see from there because he was imitating and giggling at the same time, even when I was ready to show him some demonstration. He just continued what he was doing.

While I am not angered by the sarcasm, I was disappointed by the amount of ignorance in people. Depressed dogs are never happy, just because they look like they are smiling doesn't mean they ARE REALLY SMILING, they just look like that because their mouths are opened! Dogs that are depressed will be prone to sickness easily because of weak immunity, and some actually go haywire, which what people like to call "crazy dog". It is never a joke to underestimate the power of dog leadership, why you are called it's owner is not for show, everything you do affects it's mood and behavior. A dog is not born being depressed, a normal dog enjoys its walks, they love smelling and interacting with other dogs and human beings around.

Dogs that are depressed may also look like it is well behaved at first sight, it may not bark, does not jump around and may not look at anyone directly in their eyes. To untrained eyes, these dogs may look obedient and lovely to have around, but deep down inside they are actually feeling very uneasy. They do not understand what is happening to them, their body and how to make the pain go away, all because we humans take up the responsibility of having a dog without even knowing what they need!

If you suspect that your dog is depressed and needs help, do take some time to do some proper research, you will be surprised to find tons of articles out there that can assist you in helping your dog. If things doesn't work out you could always find a good trainer through schools or recommendations. If you like our blog and wish to engage in some training to understand your dog better, feel free to drop us an email for enquiries and tips.

And of course, make sure your dog always have plenty of exercise, adequate water, food, proper discipline and please, reduce the hugging :)


  1. this blog has very useful information regarding depression......i think depression can be treated easily with natural food with the help of proper diet..suggested reading..depression treatment with food

  2. Great info on this blog. We humans think that when the dog tries to bite people or bark at them shows that they love the owner but it is not like that. The dog loves you no matter what but by Trying to protect the owner when there is no need for is showing that the dog is filling the bits of leadership that the owner doesn't know how to when it comes to a dog. if we educated ourself just the basics on how to lead a dog before getting one would make it much easier on the owner and the dog too. The owner wouldn't have their shoes chewed or be pulled every second of the walk etc.
    And the dog wouldn't be stressed by knowing the rules of the pack, humans being the pack leader. I have created a short animated video about depression and dogs...I would appreciate it if anyone commented on the video what could of been done better.

    1. Hi Serkan, this is a very good video to educate people on depression, we really appreciate what you have done!

      The only concern is that it focused too much on only exercises and no leadership importance was explained, other than that it is perfect :)

  3. Well done and nice job excellent work and useful information about the dog depression. It's nice job.


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