Your pooch has changed.
One day they’re happy.
The next day they’re sad.
“What happened? Is there something I did?”, you ask them.
In this article, you’ll discover:
- What S.A.D. means.
- Can dogs feel sadness?
- 9 tips on how to cheer up your pooch.
- 13 reasons why your dog is suddenly sad.
- And much more…
Table of contents
Why is my dog sad suddenly?
Your dog is sad suddenly because of less attention, a companion or owner leaving, an addition to the family, fear of grooming or vet, tethering, a recent change in environment or diet, boredom, owner mistreatment or sadness, depression, body injury, or seasonal affective disorder.
13 reasons why your dog is suddenly sad
#1: You’re giving them less attention
It’s normal for humans to have changes in their life. Like having a new job, or having a new habit.
But sometimes, not everyone gets happy with these changes.
Like your pooch for instance.
Look at how sad their eyes are.
Whilst you’re happy discovering new paths in life, you may have been spending less time with your dog.
Your new work could be making you come home later than before.
Or the change in your shift makes it hard to take your dog for playtime or exercise outside.
You don’t provide them the attention that you used to give before. This makes your poor pooch feel neglected in some way.
Thus, they become lonely.
“Wait, can dogs feel sadness?”
Yes, actually. But their feeling of sadness is different from us humans.
Theirs are often short-lived. And once you give them your attention again, they’ll be back to being happy in no time. 🙂
“So how can I tell if my dog is sad?”
Look out for the following signs:
- Refusing playtime.
- Becoming lethargic.
- Not eating and drinking.
- Constant whining and whimpers.
#2: Someone’s leaving
Your sweet pooch could be sad because their playtime with another dog’s over.
Or their favorite family member is moving out for college.
Dogs feel dread and loneliness whenever someone leaves. That’s why they’re more likely to develop behaviors such as separation anxiety.
They get sad because they miss their favorite companion.
Aside from that, they could also fear that they won’t come back again.
#3: Lack of mental-stimulating activities
You started housetraining your pup.
When you leave for work, you put them inside their crate. The only time you let them out is when you come back.
Uh-oh. No wonder your dog’s feeling sad suddenly.
Imagine being inside a small space for such long hours.
Now, you might not be crating your dog. But getting stuck inside the house for too long can also make your dog sad.
If you don’t take your pooch outside enough, they’ll get bored because there’s nothing to do at your home.
Dogs are social animals that thrive in challenging environments and activities.
So if they don’t have playtime or a job to do, they may get stressed and lonely.
#4: Change in environment
A different environment can also cause your dog to be sad all of a sudden.
Dogs like familiarity.
Recent changes in your house will affect the mood of your dog. Especially if you’ve moved to a smaller home that constricts their movements.
Aside from a new house, a temporary living condition can also affect their mood.
For instance, you’re going on a vacation and you let them stay at a friend’s house for a while.
Or you took them to a dog boarding while you’re away.
Naughty, active, and happy. Those are 3 words that best describe your pup.
But suddenly, those words changed to sad, sluggish, and fearful.
Well, you may not like this.
But one reason your pup’s changed is that someone is mistreating them.
It could also be possible that… you’re the culprit.
Observe your dog. Are they showing these signs of abuse?
- Unexplained limping.
- Flinching when touched.
- Tail tucking between legs.
- Avoiding any physical contact.
If yes, then what you need to do first is know the root of its cause.
Ask the members of your family if they have hurt your dog in some way.
Your pooch may have played a bit rough with someone one time. And that person may have struck or hit your dog to make them stop.
Dogs tend to misbehave sometimes.
But because of this, some people think that physical punishment is the way to correct them.
Losing someone we love is one of the hardest things that can happen to us.
And it’s no different for dogs.
If your pooch has recently lost their dog companion or one of their dog parents, they can get depressed.
Note that this is different from sadness.
Depression is a much stronger emotion. And it can lead to a long-term condition.
Because of this, your dog may stop drinking and eating. They may often hide and avoid you.
They’ll prefer sleeping all the time.
And their interest in activities altogether will be gone.
#7: There’s a new member in the family
Is there someone new in your house?
Let’s say, a new lover, dog, or a baby, perhaps?
If there are, your dog’s sad because they now have competition for your love and attention.
Dogs are possessive animals. They don’t like sharing things they see as valuable. In this case, it’s you.
They’re also territorial. So the newcomer’s presence in their territory is making them uncomfortable.
Lastly, dogs love their routine. Having a baby at home can change their sleeping schedules and other activities.
Your pooch may not sleep enough at night because of the baby’s cries. Or they may not go outside often like before because you’re taking care of the baby.
If a dog feels neglected due to the arrival of another person or animal, your pooch will get confused and frustrated.
This may make them sad, and possibly depressed after some time, too.
#8: Body injury or illness
Your dog can’t express themselves in words. The only way they can show us how they feel is through their body language.
So if your dog is suddenly sad, another reason for it is they’re feeling pain because of an injury or illness.
But hold on… there’s a problem.
Oftentimes dogs hide away and remain silent when they’re feeling discomfort.
So how can you tell if they’re in pain?
According to vets-now, there are other signs your dog may show such as:
- Loss in appetite.
- Being aggressive.
- Excessive grooming such as licking.
- Difficulty in breathing or heavy panting.
#9: Seasonal affective disorder
Have you ever had cabin fever?
During the winter months, it’s not so advisable to go outside. Therefore you’re stuck at home in isolation.
In the first weeks, you’ll probably enjoy it. But after some time you get restless.
Being inside your house for too long can make you crazy!
S.A.D. or seasonal affective disorder is the dog’s version of cabin fever.
Long winters consist of shorter days, cold temperatures, muddy walks, and heavy snowing. This makes an unideal time for your dog to be having activities outdoors.
Their routine will change.
Now, they’re stuck at home with you. With barely any exercise.
And not having exposure to all the things they love outside.
You may also notice that aside from being sad, your dog will also do behaviors they didn’t do before.
They’ll change their eating routine, sleep often, and become sluggish during this season.
#10: Poor nutrition
Dogs who are not fed well can have malnutrition or nutritional deficiency. And that can influence their mood.
If your dog has an unhealthy dog gut, they may become sad and depressed.
Here’s a quick explanation of how it works.
Your dog’s gut or digestive tract has gut bacterias.
These bacterias are in constant communication with your dog’s brain.
Good gut bacteria send a calming effect to the brain. While bad bacteria deliver sadness and aggression.
So to prevent bad bacteria in your pooch’s gut, make sure to feed your dog right.
Remember, a good gut makes a dog happy!
#11: Your emotion reflects on your dog
“Why does my dog get sad whenever I’m lonely?”
Your dog can recognize your emotion. If you’re feeling sad, your dog can sense it and it can influence their mood.
An example is if you’re depressed because of a loss of a loved one. When this happens, there are also chances your pooch will become depressed too.
More so if that person is close to them as well.
#12: They don’t like grooming
You’re wondering if you have picked up the correct pooch from the groomer. This is because they’re not being themselves right now.
Their behavior has… somewhat changed.
You were happy before I left you at the salon.
Now you’re the saddest pup in town.”
Some other dogs enjoy grooming, (especially if they’re used to the groomer).
Then there are others who dread being in there. (more so when their dog parents leave them alone)
There are strange people there who’ll touch them. The sound of the shaver can make them frightened too.
All this can be overwhelming for your dog.
So they’ll freak out and become stressed after the grooming.
#13: Vets are stressful
Well… I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard of a dog who loves going to the vet.
I think that it’s a common thing for dogs to become anxious in every vet visit.
And after every session or treatment, they become so sad that they’ll look at you with eyes that scream betrayal.
“It’s for your own good, doggo!”, you explain to them.
But there’s more…
Aside from the dreadful ambiance of the vet’s office, there’s another reason why your pooch is sad.
The side effect of the vaccine or medication they’re taking could be making them sleepy, sluggish, and slow.
And because of these effects, it looks as if your pooch’s being ‘sad’.
Bonus: They’re now tethered
There are many reasons why some people would tether their dogs.
It could be because they don’t have a fenced backyard and they fear the dog would disturb other houses.
Or their dogs are escape artists who always sneak out.
Some landlords also prohibit dogs in their rentals. So the person might feel as if they don’t have other choices but to chain their pooches outside.
But a once free-to-roam dog that suddenly becomes tethered will become sad.
Their movements will be now restricted.
And if they get tethered for a long time, they may also develop depression and aggressiveness.
Here are other dangers tethering could cause your pooch:
Since your pooch will want to break free, they may try different ways to do it. Like gnawing or biting the leash.
And this can cause them body wounds and injuries.
Another one is if they’re chained, they won’t be able to defend themselves as well when an attacker comes.
They’ll also get exposed to extreme weather conditions such as storms and snow.
7 tips on how to cheer up a sad dog
#1: Do new things with them
Dogs become sad because of experiences.
Therefore it’s just right that you also treat their sadness with experiences, only happy ones.
A dog’s sadness comes in short waves only, so you can make them cheer up again.
Take them for a ride. Discover new places with them.
If your pooch got sad because you’re giving them less attention, give them the time of day whenever you can.
Let me make an example by tweaking a famous saying about apples and doctors that we all know of:
A bit of bonding each day keeps the sadness away. :).
#2: Give them something familiar
Your pooch’s sadness is caused by a recent change in their environment.
So to cheer them up, give them things or make them experience something they’re familiar with.
This can help them cope up. Plus make them feel that somehow, not everything’s changed.
For example, take them to their usual dog park. Or if they enjoy going for a swim, take them to the lake you always go to.
Giving them their favorite treat also helps. Especially if you give them that one food they can never resist.
Or if they have a favorite person, have them visit your pooch.
If they’ve forgotten their sadness for a short while, there’s a chance that it won’t resurface after some time. (Unless you’re dealing with clinical depression.)
#3: Be happy
As mentioned earlier, your mood will reflect on your dog.
So don’t hesitate to pass on that contagious smile of yours! Dogs are experts at picking up human’s emotions.
When you’re happy, it’ll make your dog happy too. Or even if it doesn’t, seeing you smiling and laughing can comfort your dog.
You can also ask the other members of your family to do the same.
“But Petya, I don’t feel happy right now. What do you want of me?”
I get ya. Changing our emotions is not as easy as snapping our fingers.
But hey, try this…
Do something that you love and include your dog in the activity. This could be as easy as taking the time to go off screens and walk with your dog in an area you like.
Or, it could be watching a favorite movie or reading a favorite book and cuddling with your dog.
You could also try doing a hobby of yours. Then taking some time to spend with your dog – feeling recharged and happy.
If your dog’s living in a lively and cheery environment, they’ll be more likely to feel content and happy.
#4: Try to keep their routine
Sticking to their routine gives your dog a sense of comfort. So whenever they don’t keep to it, they become sad.
But… there are times when you may have missed following it.
And there will always be an occasion that forces you and your dog not to stick to it. Like during the winter season or if you’re sick.
What you can do instead in these situations is give them another routine they can follow.
If they’re used to going outside late afternoons, and now they can’t because the nights come early during winter, try to change their schedule.
Do a longer walk in the mornings instead. And don’t forget to protect your dog’s feet with shoes or protective wax when the road’s icy.
You can also encourage indoor playing.
Play tug-of-war games or treasure hunt in the living room with them.
When you’re sick, distract your dog by giving them toys.
Make sure that you give your dog safe toys that they can play with even without your supervision.
#5: Reward them when they’re happy
If your sad dog’s showing little acts of being happy, reward them with high-value treats. Like a steak strip or a piece of chicken.
By doing this, you’ll encourage your dog to continue with being lively.
But be careful…
Don’t be too affectionate with your sad pooch. And don’t give them rewards when they’re still sad.
Or else they’ll think that you’re rewarding them because feeling sad or depressed is good.
#6: Organize a dog playdate
Okay, calm down, party monster.
You don’t have to call out every dog in the neighborhood for a playdate.
Just a couple of them will do. You don’t want to overwhelm your sad pooch.
Let your dog be with their same kind. Like this cute little puppy here!
By letting them socialize with other happy dogs, they’ll be influenced to feel the same way.
Not only that, but it will also build up their social skills.
#7: Give them a new toy
Your dog may not be a material pooch in a material world.
But sometimes, a new toy is just what they need.
By giving your doggo something to distract them (like a really eye-catching toy), they may instantly forget their sadness.
#8: Play some music
A study shows that playing soft classical music can improve your dog’s mood.
So whenever they’re feeling a bit down, try to let them listen to some happy tunes.
As the saying goes, ‘Music can heal the soul.’
Note: Heavy metal, rock, or any loud music can cause your dog to be more distressed. Avoid playing these types of music for them.
#9: Don’t chain or tether your dog
Unchained dogs are happy and have a better life. So to avoid chaining your dog, try to think of ways to prevent you from having to do it.
If you live in a house, you can use baby gates to prevent your dog from always escaping.
But if for some reason you have a tethered dog, make sure to take them out twice a day. It’s recommended to walk your pooch for 30 minutes to 2 hours daily.
Give them enough exercise. So even if they’re tethered, they can still be active.
Make sure that their outdoor rope is comfortable and not too short. It must be light and their length must be from 10 ft to 100 ft.
This will enable your dog to move more comfortably around.
Also keep them safe by providing them with a secure and weather-proof house.
Warning: A chained or tethered dog is likely to become aggressive. If they escape, they may attack children and people who come near their territory.
Bonus: A new friend
Sometimes, a new friend and companion are just what your dog needs. Especially when they just recently lost one.
But take note that this is a recommendation only.
If you’re not ready to commit to another dog, then that’s fine too. 🙂