Anxiety over new dog

Table of Contents

Homer, my fluffy white Samoyed, was meant to ease my anxiety, not cause it.

But from the day Homer entered our lives he was stubborn, manic, bossy, unwilling to cuddle, impossible to train, and beyond high-maintenance.

Not really the kind of dog you want as an emotional support animal.

I first heard about emotional support animals through a friend. To me, they seemed like a sneaky way for people to take their yappy dogs on planes or bypass apartment regulations.

Then I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

I saw a million therapists and psychiatrists. I took Prozac, Lexapro, and Wellbutrin. I tried hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). But no amount of drugs or alternative therapies made it better. It had only gotten worse.

One day, lost in the vortex of trying to Google remedies to cure myself, I stumbled across the idea of an emotional support animal.

Article after article explained the benefits of animals in terms of how they reduce anxiety. They calm you, bring you back to earth, and force you outside when you’d rather live in bed.

I was sold on the idea of a furry companion—a smiling ball of love who’d wake me up on days that seemed unbearable.

Courtesy of Marian Schembari

So my husband and I found a dog — an 8-week-old Samoyed who was ready to come live with us.

Later, I talked to my doctor about getting an official prescription. I could get a pet without one, of course, but if this dog was going to be my “medicine,” I didn’t want to risk not being able to take it. Our apartment wasn’t dog-friendly, so I also needed a note confirming my condition was real and that my prescription was a dog.

Two therapy sessions later, I had a prescription and we had Homer. He was a tiny, smiling, jolly ball of cotton. When we picked him up at the airport, and the baggage handler — 200 pounds and covered in tattoos — asked us, “Can I keep him?”

Courtesy of Marian Schembari

Our crotchety upstairs neighbor wasn’t happy about the arrangement, but he eventually just ignored Homer, who would bound across the yard.

The real problems with Homer didn’t start with our landlord, our neighbors, or even Homer himself.

They started with me. Three days into our lives as puppy parents, I couldn’t breathe with the stress of keeping this animal happy and alive.

What had we done?

My “prescription” required midnight bathroom breaks in the cold, expensive dog walkers, and no more late dinners or last-minute adventures.

Homer, adorable as he was, demanded the care I had originally given myself. The care I needed.

Anxiety requires an enormous amount of discipline. A combination of yoga, medication, supplements, and lots of sleep are the only reasons I’m a functional adult.

Homer didn’t care. He wouldn’t let me sleep through the night without barking. He needed walks when I needed naps.

Soon, my anxiety got worse, not better. The dog I thought would help ease my crazy ended up consuming my life.

And then, when Homer was almost a year old, we took him walking on our local off-leash trail. The unthinkable happened: he fell off one of the trail cliffs — a 200-foot drop — and had to be rescued by the San Francisco Fire Department.

Courtesy of Marian Schembari

He’d fallen 40 feet down and couldn’t climb back up. As I peered over the edge — fully expecting to find his body at the bottom — I heard whimpering.

“It’s okay, buddy!” I shouted over the wind. “We’ve got you!”

Instead of terror, I felt the pressure of my near-constant anxiety dissolve. I was his mom, and I needed to get him through this.

I talked to him for an hour while we waited for the park rangers and fire department to arrive. I didn’t cry or explode into a spasm of panicked breathing. I calmly comforted my dog, all thoughts of my own brokenness forgotten.

In hindsight, I should have done a great many things differently. Maybe I should have adopted an older dog or got a cat instead.

But I wouldn’t change a thing.

Homer was at our wedding, wearing a little bow-tie, barking enthusiastically as my now-husband and I walked up the aisle. He traveled with us from San Francisco to Europe, and he sits at my feet every day, waiting patiently for his afternoon walk.

I thought having an ESA was as simple as buying a friendly companion to make me smile. But it was the act of giving him love and comfort that ultimately gave me mine.

Courtesy of Marian Schembari Marian Schembari Marian is a writer, storyteller and brainstorm partner.

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Dogs are good at picking up on human emotions. That’s one of the things we love about them. They always seem to know when we need a cuddle to cheer us up, when we need a partner to share in our joy, and when we need a friend to act silly and relieve our stress or anger.

In fact, when it comes to disorders such chronic anxiety, dogs have been known to improve symptoms in some humans. However, if dogs can understand and affect our emotions–can our emotions, in turn, affect our dogs? If we are anxious, can our dogs become anxious, too?

It is important to note that anxiety disorders are not contagious in the same way that other diseases, such as bacterial or viral infections, can be. Studies seem to indicate, however, that there is a correlation between unusual, anxious behavior in dogs and anxiety in humans who are close to them.

Here’s what you should know about how your anxiety might affect your dog.

How Do Dogs Sense Anxiety?

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Dogs have many ways of detecting human feelings. They aren’t necessarily able to tell what we are saying with our words all the time, but they can read several other ways that we communicate, including our body language, the tones and frequencies in our voices, and subtle signals we give off that even we can’t detect, ourselves.

When it comes to our body language, dogs can tell when there are changes in the way we move, our posture, and our facial expressions. Dogs are observant, particularly when it comes to the humans they are closest to, so they know what it looks like when we are anxious. They can see it on our faces.

The tones and frequencies in our voices can also be detected by dogs, and they usually have a much better sense of hearing then we do. Chances are good that your dog can identify when you’re happy, sad, fearful, or anxious from your tone. They know which of your behaviors are associated with the sounds you’re making.

In this way, they may even be able to predict when you are going to react with anger, when you are going to reward them because you are pleased, or when you are going to act unusually based on your anxiety–all by the sound of your voice.

Dogs can also detect subtle chemical changes in our bodies with their sense of smell. When we are anxious, we sweat. It’s sometimes next to impossible for us to see or smell, but dogs can detect that sweat, and that’s sometimes why we say dogs can “smell fear.”

The ability for dogs to detect these chemical changes is why we sometimes rely on dogs to detect diseases such as cancer or warn when someone will have a seizure.

Why Do Dogs Feel Anxious When You Do?

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Dogs often look to their humans for cues on how to deal with and react to the world around them. When their humans project feelings of calmness and confidence, dogs tend to see their immediate surroundings as safe.

When humans are anxious, dogs tend to look to their environment for signs of threats. After all, there must be some reason that their protector is feeling anxious. When their humans are anxious, dogs tend to feel less safe and more anxious, as well.

Additionally, when a person has an anxiety disorder, they may start to act differently. They may feel nervous and distracted, unable to focus, and less willing to engage in the activities that they usually do.

This might mean an anxious dog owner doesn’t go for as many walks with their pup, or they are less willing to play, or they start to vary their established routines. This affects dogs, too. They no longer know what to expect.

They might not get enough exercise, stimulation, or attention, which can result in them feeling anxious and displaying symptoms of anxiety disorders, as well.

What Happens When Dogs Feel Anxious?

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There are several symptoms of anxiety in dogs that you should look out for, especially if you feel anxious near your dog.

Anxious behaviors can include chewing objects around the house, having accidents even though they are housetrained, licking or chewing at their own paws or skin, barking or whining, pacing, scratching, trying to escape, or showing physiological responses like dilated pupils, shaking, and excessive panting.

If these signs are visible on a regular basis, it may mean your dog has an anxiety disorder instead of just a general feeling of anxiety.

The problem can go from bad to worse when dogs react to anxious humans and become anxious, themselves. For example, a person who is anxious or fearful around dogs might tense up and stare. Dogs can take this as a challenge posture and become anxious and defensive.

This is when incidents can happen. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that less emotionally stable people are more likely to be bitten by dogs. This is a correlation, not a causation, but it’s possible that anxious behaviors lead to dogs feeling more anxious and responding with fear or aggression.

What Can You Do To Help Your Dog Feel Less Anxious?

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If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, I strongly recommend that you seek treatment that works for you. Your dog will benefit from you being less anxious, too.

However, if you are an anxious person, there are still ways that you can make sure your dog is as anxiety-free as possible.

Try to keep up a routine. You don’t have to do everything at the exact same time, but keeping things on a similar schedule, day after day, will help your dog understand what to expect and help them remain calm.

Go for walks and maintain an appropriate exercise regimen for your pup. Exercise can help burn off some of the excess energy that can contribute to anxious behaviors.

Don’t forget about mental stimulation, too. Puzzle feeders are a great way to make sure your dog is using their brain, as is training.

Keep up with training sessions and use plenty of positive reinforcement. If your dog is getting bored, try learning some new tricks. Giving your dog something to do will help use up the mental energy they would spend on anxiety and will tire them out, which is a good thing.

Also, remember to give your dog plenty of love and attention. It can be easy to get stuck in your own anxiety and forget about your dog’s needs. Not only will this be good for your dog, but it will be good for you, too. Studies show that interacting with your pet can reduce stress and anxiety, which will benefit both of you.

How do you make sure your dog doesn’t feel your anxiety? Do you think dogs feel the emotions of their humans? Let us know in the comments below!

Hounds of love: how dogs helped me and my anxiety

I have had anxiety since I was ten years old. I remember one of my first attacks happening on a school trip to France when I was in year five. I don’t recall much except for one teacher telling me not to worry so much about feeling like I was going to die as she was much older than me – something that did not help too much. Since then, I have had at least one anxiety attack each day. It’s just the way it is for me.

“Just the simple touch of his fur was enough to leave me feeling much calmer than I was before.”

Around the time of my trip to France, my parents picked up our first dog. He was a black labrador that I loved dearly, and that I only lost recently at the amazing age of 15. I remember him being a great help when I was feeling afraid or anxious, as just the simple touch of his fur was enough to leave me feeling much calmer than I was before.

Over the next decade and a half, I confided in him more than I did anyone else. He knew my secrets, my fears, everything. In fact, there are things I told him that I will never tell anyone else, because he was my best friend. It wasn’t just because of the oxytocin (sometimes called the love hormone) that was released when I hugged him, or when he came to me when I cried, it’s also because he never judged me for feeling the way I did, or acting out because of it.

“While the medication worked to help calm my mind, nothing was ever as effective as the loving touch of my dog.”

At school, teachers were less than sympathetic to my plight, and it was never easy having anxiety at school. I was prescribed diazepam when I was 16. I believe that no one that age should receive a prescription like that without trying something else first. While the medication worked to help calm my mind, nothing was ever as effective as the loving touch of my dog.

When I moved away from my parents, there was a massive emptiness in my life without him there. My anxiety was worse for it, and even the medication was only able to take the edge off. Visiting him was always a welcome experience, but it wasn’t the same as living with him. I had cats, and I loved them, but they just weren’t the same as my boy back home.

A few years later, my cats had passed away, and I was without a pet once more. My labrador was getting on in years, and I knew he would not be around forever. That’s when I got my current dog. I picked him up as a puppy, and I knew he was meant for me. This little ball of fur that was sure to help pull me out of my darkest moments. I brought him home, and we bonded instantly. He even got on with my lab when we went to visit.

My little fluff ball is one of the most sensitive beings I know. As soon as my mind starts to race and I can feel that ball of anxiety rising, he is right there and ready to face it with me. He can spend hours just spread out next to me while I hug him, and stroking his fur is incredibly helpful. Most of all, he gave my daily life routine and purpose.

“As a high energy dog, I knew I had to take him out for a few hours a day, and the difference in how I felt was amazing. I had more energy, was happier, and life didn’t seem as dark and crushing as it had before.”

Working from home led me to put unwanted weight on, and my dog meant that I needed to get out there and walk – not just for me, but also for him. As a high energy dog, I knew I had to take him out for a few hours a day, and the difference in how I felt was amazing. I had more energy, was happier, and life didn’t seem as dark and crushing as it had before.

Yes, I still get an anxiety attack every day, but I feel more able to overcome them. My dog gave me a new lease on life, a routine, and a sense of pride knowing that I was taking good care of him. In many ways, he has carried on the legacy of my labrador, and will continue to do so for many years to come.

I have channelled my personal experience positively and wrote a very long and detailed article titled: How Dogs Can Help with Mental Health – Mind Boosting Benefits of Dog Ownership so please grab a cuppa and take a read or share with someone you love.

Thanks for reading.

Is Your New Dog Making You Miserable? You’re Not Alone

Last updated September 21, 2019

You got a puppy – and it’s turning out to be a lot more challenging than you expected.

I mean, you knew getting a dog would be hard work, but holy crap, you were not prepared for THIS.

Sound about right?

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called “Thinking of Returning Your New Puppy to the Shelter/Breeder?”

It was about what to do when you’ve totally HAD IT with your new dog. It was part pep talk, part problem-solving guide. You should read that post before you read this one.

At the end of the post, I included my email address.

“Need some advice? Need to vent?” I said. “Email me. Use the subject line ‘puppy help’ so it’ll stand out in my inbox.”

I figured I’d get a few responses, from people looking for house training tips or something.

I was not quite prepared for the avalanche of emotion that followed.

Since I published that article in 2011, I’ve received a steady stream of “Puppy Help” emails – more than I can keep up with – from people pouring out their hearts.

Turns out, a lot of people, even more than I thought, experience serious doubt and despair when they get a new dog.

What’s amazing about these emails is how similar they all are. From all over the world, from all kinds of backgrounds, everyone’s stories are pretty much the same. Everyone shares the same fears and frustrations.

And everyone thinks they’re alone.

In that first blog post, I described my experience raising my first puppy, and just how friggin’ hard it was. “I thought I ended up with the worst puppy in the world,” I said, exaggerating slightly for dramedic effect, but only VERY SLIGHTLY.

I get countless emails that go like this: “Oh thank God! I thought I adopted the worst puppy in the world, too. I’m so glad I’m not the only one to go through this.”

No, you are not the only one.

To show you just how not-alone you are, today I’d like to share some of the most common statements from the Puppy Help emails.

“I’ve had my dog three days and I can’t take it anymore.”

A full half of all Puppy Help emails are from people who’ve had their dog for three days. I don’t know what it is about the 72-hour mark, but it’s when a lot of people hit their breaking point. Or at least it’s when they hit up Google for the answers and find my article.

The first few days can seem impossibly difficult. But it does get easier. You’re in the belly of the whale! This isn’t the time to give up. It’s the time to knuckle down and push through.

“I wanted a dog my whole life. I did tons of research but I was not prepared for THIS.”

In the words of Zoe Washburne, “talking ain’t doing.” Getting a dog is a bit of a culture shock, and the only way to really understand it is to do it. This oh shit sensation does not mean your research was in vain, or that you’re doing anything wrong.

“I had dogs growing up but I was not prepared for THIS.”

Maybe it’s because your parents did most of the work raising your family’s dogs. Maybe your last dog truly was an angel who could do no wrong. Or maybe you’ve forgotten how tough the early days with your last dog were – time heals all puppy bite wounds.

Even professional dog trainers can have a rough time with their new dogs. Every dog presents new and exciting challenges. They keep you humble that way.

“I don’t love this dog. Aren’t you supposed to love your dog?”

Indeed, that’s usually the goal… but not right away! Yeah, sometimes people do fall madly in love with their new dog on the first day. But in most cases, it’s a process. Bringing your new dog home is only the first step. You still have to build the relationship.

“I’m a prisoner in my own home.”

The thing about raising puppies or adding a rescued dog to your life: if you do it right, it takes up all your time. The more work you put in now, the better things will be later.

And yeah, that can mean being stuck at home for a while. It can mean not showering/sleeping/eating food more nutritious than Top Ramen.

But this is temporary. It will not always be like this.

“I just want my life back,”


“The thought of doing THIS for the life of the dog makes me want to curl up in a ball and die.”

“THIS” can be a lot of things – house training, 24/7 supervision, keeping the puppy from biting the toddler, not sleeping, dealing with the constant existential crisis that for some reason this experience triggers for all of us, or even just the pressure of being responsible for another living being for the next 10-ish years.

Like I said, THIS is temporary. Eventually, the puppy will be house trained, the dog won’t require a tenth of the supervision he requires now, he’ll sleep through the night, he’ll stop harrassing the toddler, the existential crisis will abate (haha just kidding, the existential crisis never stops).

And that whole “I want my life back!” thing? I’m pretty sure you won’t feel that way a year from now. The dog will become an important part of your family, and you won’t be able to imagine life without him.

“Nothing is really going wrong but I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE.”

I often hear this from people who say that training’s going fine, the puppy sleeps at night, the kids love him, etc. Nothing’s wrong. So why is everything wrong?

I don’t know why this phenomenon happens. But of course I’m going to tell you my opinion anyway.

The early days with a new dog disrupt every aspect of your life. You now have to think about all your little daily routines that used to be autopilot. Plus, raising a new dog is a lot of emotional hard work, which can leave you just as exhausted as physical hard work.

So it’s natural for your brain to slam the brakes and screech, “NO! DO NOT WANT.”

So does all this mean I can guarantee that with a little hard work, by golly, everything will be just fine? Of course not. There are certainly some cases where everybody would be better off if the dog found a more appropriate home.

BUT. The vast majority of these panicky, “I just can’t keep this dog anymore” situations resolve themselves – if you’re willing to wait it out. It’s just your brain being a jerk, wanting to go back on autopilot so it can space out in front of Netflix.

You can do this. I believe in you.

A Guide to Surviving Life with Your New Dog or Puppy

We now have an ebook inspired by the Puppy Help emailers.

I Got a Dog – What Was I Thinking? will help you deal with challenges like house training, puppy biting, and bonding. It will also help you deal with the monsters in your head. It’s about what to do when sleep-deprivation and self-doubt make you want to throw in the towel and put the dog up for sale on Craigslist.

You’ll learn:

  • How to house train your dog even if she’s had a lot of accidents
  • How to stop your puppy from biting
  • How to teach your dog not to freak out when he’s alone
  • How to survive bedtime with a puppy who whines all night
  • How to stop being stressed and overwhelmed all the time
  • And more

Sound like something you could use?

Puppy Depression

FYI: If you buy something through a link on this site I may earn a commission – at NO extra cost to you.

The puppy depression (aka post-partum puppy depression or puppy blues) is something which hits YOU, not your puppy.

And usually it hits completely unexpectedly!

Even if you’ve been hoping, waiting and planning for your puppy (or dog) for months, or years, the reality of puppy care can sometimes come as a shock… causing some emotional upheaval to kick in.

Luckily, this is a temporary condition and is born out of love and concern for the welfare of your new furry friend.

It’s almost like ‘buyers remorse’, but more complicated.

The puppy blues often hit first-time puppy owners, but they can affect anyone who’s recently brought home a puppy, or an adult dog.

Even if you’ve owned dogs before, or currently, adding a new pack member can still be stressful and surprising in it’s responsibilities.

Regardless of how old Fido is, the feelings and reactions can be the same.

This page will help you to understand why you feel so sad/anxious or overwhelmed, and give you practical tips and advice for dealing with those feelings and moving towards the loving relationship you’ve been hoping for.

Why Does Puppy Depression Happen?

Bringing home a new puppy or dog is often a much anticipated, and very happy occasions.

You have so many hopes, plans and dreams for your new companion and are awash with warm, fuzzy feelings.

Then reality hits, and along with it comes post-partum puppy depression.

It could hit as quickly as on the car ride home, the first or second day when you suddenly wonder how on earth you thought you could keep this little guy happy and healthy.

Or it could happen several weeks (possibly even months) later when you realize how much time, work and money is involved in taking care of raising a puppy or caring for a dog!

Sleepless nights, potty training battles, adolescent puppy attitude, destruction of your things, behavior issues… these can all seem too much to handle at times.

BUT, you love the little guy. Oh, how you love him!

No wonder, you may be left struggling with conflicting emotions and wondering what’s wrong with you.

Luckily, the answer is ‘Nothing.’ Nothing is wrong with you.

You’re feeling this way because you love Fido, you realize what he needs, and you want to do what’s best for him.

You’re not alone, and these feelings will pass, but a little extra help and support can shorten that time-frame and make everyone feel better.

Causes of Post-partum Puppy Depression

There are many different things which can cause you to feel sad, depressed or anxious about life with your new puppy.

Sometimes it’s a combination of different factors.

Here’s a look at the most common causes of the Puppy Blues:

  • Potty training issues
  • Behavioral problems
  • Financial commitment
  • Lack of sleep
  • General puppy care workload
  • Puppy doesn’t ‘fit’ with the family
  • Interaction with existing pets
  • Damage to home/belongings
  • Limits placed on social activities/home life

These are all real problems that you’re likely to face when you add a puppy or dog to your family.

With the time, patience, effort, consistency and love they can all be addressed (the financial one needs the practical solution of a healthy bank balance).

Taking things step by step and giving yourself permission to feel stressed out or sad now and then can also help keep things in perspective.

Minimizing the Chances of Puppy Depression

In order to reduce the chances of post-partum puppy depression happening to you, it’s important to get out in front of it.

This means tackling the most common causes of the puppy blues BEFORE you even bring your little guy, or gal, home.

I realize that most of you reading this now already have your new pup/dog and are in the throes of the blues, but this info. may help you next time around… puppy depression is not limited to first time owners.

Here’s what you can do to help prevent problems from cropping up later:

Keep expectations realistic

This is a biggie!

Unrealistic expectations are to blame for a many cases of depression in new puppy/dog owners.

We weave all sorts of wonderful fantasies about how life is going to be with our new best friend. Fantasy is not reality.

Dogs give us unconditional love and acceptance, companionship, loyalty, protection and a heart that adores us beyond what we deserve.

BUT a dog is a living, breathing creature with feelings and needs, both practical and emotional.

A puppy needs a huge investment of time and patience because he has so much to learn.

None of what we expect from a puppy comes naturally to him, it has to be taught… with love and consistency.’

An adult dog comes with already formed habits and a personality that has been shaped by his past experiences.

With a puppy you must EXPECT to:

  • Afford equipment, food, training and health care (The Cost of Owning A Dog)
  • Spend time on potty training… and cleaning up the inevitable messes.
  • Be woken up once or twice a night for potty breaks, possibly for weeks
  • Spend time daily working on manners and basic obedience
  • Invest time and money in formal obedience classes
  • Have your belongings chewed or damaged (even after puppy proofing).
  • Stay home because your puppy can’t be alone for long periods – even when you want to go out.
  • Feel worried or anxious about your puppy’s health/diet/behavior

With an adult dog you must EXPECT to:

  • Afford equipment, food, training and health care
  • Possibly have to improve potty habits, or crate train from scratch
  • Spend time daily on dog training and manners
  • Invest time and money in formal obedience classes
  • Face some poor behavior traits/habits that are established
  • See some sadness, confusion, fear or anxiety in your dog
  • Have the bonding process take place more slowly than with a puppy

If you already have dogs or other pets in the home, be prepared for some conflict/disinterest or anxiety after introducing the new family member.

Resident dogs may even seem a little depressed themselves for a short while.

Cats often just disappear until they feel comfortable with the newcomer but other dogs can be stressed, anxious, scared or even defensive.

Generally they will learn to get along given time and space but you need to be alert for any real problems and step in if/when necessary.

Choose the right dog (and/or breed)

Every dog is a unique individual, and every breed has it’s own very specific traits, needs and health concerns.

Every family has it’s own structure, lifestyle and activity level.

All homes have a variety of different sizes, locations and amenities.

The puppy or dog you choose to come into your family and live in your home can’t just be a random choice… there are too many variables!

For the best chance at getting a dog who fits with your home, lifestyle, activity level, climate, hopes and plans you need to choose wisely and take the time to get the right fit.

Getting this right can minimize the anxiety, blues and puppy depression that can happen when you feel that you made the wrong choice of dog for your family.

See this page for tips and advice… Choosing The Right Breed of Dog

For full information on dog breeds and types, visit this page… Dog Breed Information.

Be prepared!

If you’re prepared for your new family member before you bring them home, you can reduce some of the anxiety and stress of the early days.

These include:

  • Dog crate
  • Dog bed (for adult dog)
  • Premium food (puppy or dog formula)
  • Urine cleaning products
  • Pee pads or dog potty (if no access to outdoors for elimination)
  • Appropriate toys
  • Collar and ID tags
  • Leash or harness
  • Healthy training treats
  • Grooming aids

It’s also wise to:

  • Puppy proof your home
  • Choose a veterinarian
  • Have basic dog first aid supplies at hand

How to handle the ‘Puppy Blues’

Proper preparation can reduce or eliminate a lot of the issues which lead to puppy depression, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen at all.

Luckily there are things you can do to counteract the fact that you’re feeling sad or depressed in your new role as puppy parent.

Use a Dog Crate

A crate is probably one of the most versatile and most important pieces of equipment you can buy for your new family member, puppy or adult dog.

Crate training is the simplest and most straightforward potty training method available, and it works for all ages (see Crate Training Puppies or Housebreaking an Older Dog).

But, that’s not the only way in which a crate is useful.

A crate is also the perfect way to contain your pup/dog whenever you can’t be around to supervise closely (this is very important to prevent house-training accidents or damage to your home).

Dogs are den animals and most of them come to see their crate as a safe, comfy place to nap or just watch the world go by.

You can also use your crate as a time-out spot (with a favorite, sturdy chew toy) when your training commands are being consistently ignored and your authority needs a little reinforcement.

Interact with other Puppy/Dog Owners

Whether it’s in person, or online, spending time with other puppy/dog owners can really help you to feel less alone/worried and make short work of puppy depression.

There are puppy training classes, dog parks (once puppy is vaccinated), dog forums and chat rooms, family/friends with dogs and more.

You’re not the only person who’s feeling (or has felt) depressed or anxious after bringing their pooch home, and talking to others who’ve weathered this stage will help.

Socialization is also an important part of your puppy or dogs’ learning curve.

Get Professional Help

And no, I don’t mean a psychologist!

Enrolling Fido in classes with a professional dog trainer, or even having a trainer come to your home for some one-on-one evaluation and training, can give your confidence a big boost.

It’s also excellent socialization for your little guy/gal.

You can also talk things over with your veterinarian.

Puppies need regular vet checks and preventative care during the first few months and these appointments are the perfect time to ask questions or get input on anything that concerns you.

Make sure Fido gets plenty of exercise

When your puppy or dog is getting exercise, that often means you’re getting it too.

Exercise is a great way to release those ‘feel good’ endorphins in both you and your new four legged friend, so it should be part of every day’s activities.

Obviously the amount and type of exercise your pooch needs depends a lot on his age, size, breed and health, but most dogs can take daily walks, play low-impact games and work on obedience commands.

Mental stimulation is also important.

Playing with interactive toys, learning new commands, playing games such as hide-and-seek and taking part in flyball, dog agility or similar activities are all beneficial.

There’s a lot of truth to the saying that ‘a tired puppy is a good puppy’…. and a good puppy is less likely to cause their owner to feel overwhelmed and stressed.

Keep Track of Progress

In the busy day-to-day of life, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.

Being tired, overwhelmed or stressed doesn’t help.

So, from time to time it pays to look back a little and see how far you (and Fido) have come.

That little puppy who couldn’t hold his bladder for more than thirty minutes?

Now, he’s spending two hours in his crate without an accident.

The pup or dog who hid under the table for hours, or refused to eat for the entire first day?

Now he runs around the house like a crazy thing and gobbles up every meal.

You both deserve some praise for the progress you’ve made. Treat yourselves 🙂

Arrange Some Downtime for Yourself

Taking care of a puppy is very labor and time intensive, and it can exhausting and overwhelming sometimes… that alone can lead to the puppy blues.

Give yourself a break by asking a friend or relative to puppy-sit for you one night a week or on a weekend day, so that you can get some time off from your responsibilities.

There are also many qualified and professional dog sitters in most areas who can be employed to take care of Fido now and then if you don’t have dog friendly family or friends close by.

Getting a little time to regroup and refresh can put everything back into perspective, and when you get home to that happy, dancing little furball who is SO happy to see you, it’s difficult to feel sad or upset.

If you’re suffering from puppy depression I hope this page has given you some comfort and inspiration… and helped you to understand that this is a common problem and passes given time.

Your relationship with your puppy or dog is always evolving and growing, and given time it will become something that you treasure and remember for a lifetime.

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43 Tips for New Puppy Owners

It’s around day two of life with a new puppy that most people start to ask themselves, “what the hell have I gotten myself into?”

When you bring a puppy home, you are suddenly faced with obnoxious puppy behavior like whining, biting, jumping, chewing, and pooping on the carpet.

And if you’ve done any research at all, you know that proper care and training is critical during a puppy’s first few months. The things your puppy experiences now are going to affect him for the rest of his life. No pressure, right?

Between managing the puppy’s destructive tendencies, worrying about stuff like socialization, and dealing with well-intentioned but often incorrect advice from friends, family, and TV shows, a puppy parent can get a little overwhelmed. So here are some bite-sized puppy tips to get you through the next few months.

1. Get a crate. It makes house training much easier.

2. Let your puppy sleep in your bedroom, at least for the first few nights. This whole experience is scary for a pup. Don’t make him sleep in the laundry room. Put the crate next to your bed so you can reassure him.

3. Baby gates are your friend. Use them to keep the puppy out of places you don’t want her to destroy.

4. Supervise, supervise, supervise. If you cannot watch him like a hawk, he needs to be in his crate or in his “room,” see below.

5. Set up a puppy room for when you can’t supervise. Pick a small area like the bathroom or kitchen, block it off with baby gates. Add a bed in one corner and pee pads or a dog “toilet” in another.

6. Pick a potty spot. If you don’t want Sparky pooping all over the yard as an adult, pick one area and take him directly there when it’s potty time.

7. Set a daily routine. House training proceeds more smoothly if your puppy knows what to expect from her day.

8. Enroll in a puppy class. Your pup will learn some basic obedience, but the real benefit of puppy classes is socialization with other puppies and people.

9. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Not all advice is good advice. Take everything with a grain of salt. Even my advice!

10. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Discuss the puppy rules with your whole family. Figure out who will do what, and when. Pick one set of training cues and stick with them.

Check out the free puppy starter kit

What’s included:

  • A printable puppy supplies checklist
  • What to Do With a New Puppy: a plan for the first week of puppy parenthood

Get this instantly-downloadable kit by joining the (also free) 3 Lost Dogs email list:

11. Play some puppy training games.

12. Don’t encourage behavior that you’ll regret when he gets big. Jumping up is cute when he weighs ten pounds. It won’t be cute when he’s 60 pounds.

13. Get your pup used to handling from day one, touching feet, nails, tail, ears, mouth, teeth, and belly with love. Your vet will thank you.

14. Start grooming early on. For the same reason as above.

15. Let your puppy meet at least two new (friendly and gentle) people every day.

16. Take your puppy to the pet store. Great socialization opportunity. Hold her in your arms and off the floor until she’s had all her puppy shots.

17. Introduce your pup to all kinds of novel things. People in funny hats. Remote control cars. Kids playing. Agility equipment. Balloons. Cats. Car rides.

18. Socialize, don’t traumatize. Introduce new experiences slowly and never let your puppy get overwhelmed.

19. Invite friends and family to meet-the-puppy parties.

20. Frozen wet washcloths and baby carrots make great chews for teething puppies.

21. Reward good behavior, don’t wait for bad behavior. Reward the puppy when you see him doing something you like. Don’t wait until he’s misbehaving to give him attention.

22. Avoid the dog park. In addition to putting your under-vaccinated puppy at risk for disease, many dogs at the dog park are quite rude by canine standards. A couple bad experiences could ruin your puppy’s opinion of her own species.

23. Feed 2-3 small meals per day. Don’t leave food out for her to graze on.

24. Pick up anything you don’t want destroyed. If it’s on the floor, it WILL be chewed.

25. Get your puppy microchipped. It’s your best chance at being reunited with your dog if he ever gets lost. You can get this done for around $25 at your vet or local shelter.

26. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, teach your puppy to sit when greeting people. Don’t just yell at her for jumping up.

27. Watch your puppy’s poops. Disgusting? Yes. But it could save your puppy’s life. If you notice anything like diarrhea or blood, take your puppy for a vet visit ASAP.

28. Provide lots of toys. Get a variety to see what kind your puppy likes best.

29. Provide lots of delicious chews. Things like bully sticks, pig ears, and flavored Nylabones. These will satisfy your pup’s need to chew, and make her less likely to chew on your valuables.

30. Rotate through the dog toys. Let your puppy have two or three toys at a time. Changing up the toy selection will keep Sparky interested.

31. Treat-dispensing toys make great puppy sitters. to learn what kind to get.

32. If you think your puppy needs to go potty at all, don’t hesitate to take him outside! You’d be surprised how often puppies need to go sometimes.

33. Practice separation. As tempting as it is, don’t let Sparky be glued to your side all day. Letting your puppy have time to himself in his crate or room will help prevent separation anxiety.

34. Hellos and Goodbyes should be no big deal. Don’t make a fuss over your pup when you leave or come home. Again, prevents separation anxiety.

35. Don’t freak out when your puppy chews on you. Puppies bite. Sometimes painfully! But it’s not aggression.

36. For pet messes, use an Enzyme-based cleaner like Nature’s Miracle. Other types of cleaners don’t completely destroy the scent, so the puppy may try to eliminate in the same spot again.

37. Visit the vet. Take your pup for a visit when she doesn’t have an appointment. Bring some treats and ask the office staff to give her some. Make the vet’s office a fun place! (call ahead first to make sure this is OK)

38. As a general rule of thumb, the number of hours a puppy can “hold it” is his age in months plus one. So a two month old puppy should be crated for a maximum of three hours at a time (during the day. When they sleep at night, puppies can usually hold it for longer).

39. Leave the TV or radio on when you leave your puppy home alone.

40. Teach good leash manners early. Better to teach your puppy to walk nice on leash than to teach your adult dog to stop pulling on leash.

41. Remember that your puppy is a baby – don’t ask too much of her. Don’t worry about whether she’ll perform a perfect sit/stay or heel. Plenty of time for that when she’s older. Focus on socialization and having fun.

42.Take lots of pictures. Puppyhood goes by SO fast.

43. Be prepared for your pup to become a whole different kind of obnoxious around age 6-10 months. Adolescence is sometimes even more challenging than puppyhood. Have fun with your teenage dog!

Don’t forget your free puppy starter kit

What’s included:

  • A printable puppy supplies checklist
  • What to Do With a New Puppy: a plan for the first week of puppy parenthood

Get this instantly-downloadable kit by joining the (also free) 3 Lost Dogs email list:

My Puppy Anxiety

When my husband and I decided to get a puppy we did our research and felt we were prepared, but when we brought home our 8 week-old puppy, Archie, I found myself completely overwhelmed. Getting a puppy made me even more anxious than usual. I felt like I was a terrible person for not being able to enjoy Archie during those early days, and for having thoughts of giving him up.

I worried whether we were doing things the right way – whether Archie was happy with us – I felt like I couldn’t cope. To outsiders everything looked rosy. Here was this gorgeous little puppy, who charmed everyone he met. Why was I feeling so negative?

Quite simply, I had a bad case of what we’ll call ‘the puppy blues’. I worked part-time, whilst my husband worked full-time, so I spent more time with Archie. I used to dread the days when I wasn’t working – a whole eight hours or more on my own with Archie. Here was a tiny scrap of a thing who was entirely dependent upon me (I felt sorry for him having to put up with me!). He didn’t seem to sleep all that much and needed to be watched constantly.

I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone else apart from Simon about it, but of course, he was going through it too albeit for different reasons. Thankfully we each had our down moments at different times, so were able to comfort each other. When I tried to talk about it to other people, I quickly learnt to change the subject or to make a joke of it because I realised they just didn’t understand. They only wanted to hear about the nice things.

I emailed Anxiety UK’s Infoline, and I found receiving a sympathetic response helped. Searching online, I found other people who’d had the same feelings, who’d gone through the exact same thing. It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone, and it made me feel better reading other people’s stories. All the advice said to get through the first few months and that things would improve. I clung on to that thought.

Having some one-to-one sessions with a puppy trainer turned out to be a great idea. The trainer came to our home and I was reassured that we were doing a good job with Archie. She also gave us some helpful tips and advice.

Then there was the guy we met in Pets at Home. I don’t know his name, and I never saw him again, but he stopped to give Archie a fuss and we ended up chatting for a while. He too was a puppy parent, but he was further along the path than we were. He told us he’d hated having a puppy during the early days, but that over time things had improved greatly, and his dog had become a much loved member of his family. I left the store that day feeling hopeful.

As time passed I found I was coping. I smile now as I remember having a meltdown over Archie’s dirty bottom on the first day I was left on my own with him. It wasn’t so much dealing with the mess, just handling a squirming puppy who clearly didn’t want a bath (and could you blame him?). Nowadays I don’t think anything of giving Archie a wash; I just scoop him up and put him in the shower – job done.

Although getting a puppy made me more anxious, there was a flip side too. Archie helped me with the intermittent anxiety I felt over my job at the time. If I was worried about a meeting, for example, spending time with Archie made me realise the importance of being present. Watching Archie romp round in the grass took my mind off my work worries, and if I was having a stressful day at work it helped to think about playing with Archie when I got home. Cuddles helped, as did taking Archie out for a walk or two every day – a great opportunity to practice mindfulness.

Archie is now two and he’s a delight. I can’t imagine life without him. I wish now I’d relaxed more with him when he was a pup – I was too anxious though. I sometimes think it would be nice for him to have a playmate. I don’t know whether I will get another puppy in the future, but I know that if I do I’ll be more confident the second time round because I’ll know what to expect.

Welsh born Helen Edwards is a freelance writer, and after a decade or more of living down south, she currently lives in Shropshire with her husband, Simon, and her Zuchon dog, Archie.

For information and advice on all manner of anxiety conditions and situations, email our team at [email protected]

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Bringing a new dog home can be challenging, especially for first time dog owners. Whatever challenges you are facing be sure to know you are not alone. If you hop onto our DogTime Facebook page you’ll meet lots of other dog owners with tons of advice and support for you. If that’s not enough, here are suggestions for coping with a few of the challenges most common to new dog owners. You’re going to do great!

Your dog barks and cries when left alone.

Best guess: Insecurity

Solution: Dogs are pack animals and a new dog in a new place is going to feel alone, afraid, and sad sometimes. Consider taking a few days off from work to spend with your new pup, or work from home if you can for the first week. Your pup will adjust to living in your home but give him or her some time. Try giving your pup smart toys that engage their mind when you are away and start by taking short trips outside. Just a few minutes and coming back with lots of love and treats. Increase the time to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. Always returning with love and reassurance that you missed your pup as much as they missed you. Some dogs have a bigger problem with separation anxiety and you may want to talk to your vet or consult with a trainer.

Your dog throws up and develops diarrhea.

Best guess: Anxiety and/or a change in diet

Solution: First you’ll want to rule out exposure to any toxins. Make sure you are aware of the human foods that are toxic to dogs and that your home is dog or puppy proofed so that your pup can’t reach any cleaners, chemicals or plants that might be toxic to a dog.

Keep the first few days at home low-key but structured, following a reliable walk-eat-play routine. Find out what what your dog is used to eating, try to feed your dog the same food, and gradually switch over to the dog food of your choice. If the vomiting or diarrhea is severe or doesn’t go away quickly, see a vet.

You’re up half the night listening to your dog whine and cry in his crate.

Best guess: Scared and alone in a strange place, face it–your pup is a bit freaked out.

Solution: First of all make your new pup feel at home by letting him or her sleep in your bedroom with you. If your dog sleeps in a crate, bring the crate next to your bed so you can lay side by side and your pup can hear you breathing and moving around. Make sure your pup isn’t trying to tell you that he or she needs a potty break and make sure they have a comfortable bed or blanket to sleep on. It’s also important to make sure that your new pup gets enough exercise every day so he or she is tuckered out at the end of the day and ready for bed. It won’t last forever, it just takes a little time for your pup to adjust to his or her new home.

In the time it takes you to answer the doorbell or check your email, your dog chews the TV remote, the couch cushions, and your favorite running shoes.

Best guess: You’ve adopted a chewing fiend/nervous/new teeth coming in

Solution: Make sure your pup has plenty of doggie toys and things to chew on. Be sure to keep things like remote controls and cellphones up high where your new pup can’t reach them. You may need to make a special puppy play area in your home so your pup doesn’t have access to the whole house or close bedroom doors to keep your pup from finding shoes and other things to chew on. If the behavior is extreme you’ll definitely want to work with a trainer but I promise, you can stop your dog from chewing. You just need to give it time and work on it.

You take your dog off-leash and he disappears.

Best guess: Your house isn’t “home” yet to your dog

Solution: First of all you should always keep your dog on a leash when you go outside. Off leash dog parks are not the place for you and your new dog. You need to give your new pup time to adjust before you start going places like that. Make sure that your yard is secure so your dog cannot escape and don’t leave a new dog outside alone for hours on end. It’s just not safe. Obviously you need to make sure your new dog is microchipped and fitted with the proper tags (it’s nearly impossible to have him memorize your phone number). Never take your tags off of your dog. Tags are not just for when you go on a walk. Dogs can escape houses and yards so your dog should wear tags 24/7/365.

You wonder if you did the right thing getting a dog–particularly this dog.

Best guess: It will all work out fine. You’re adjusting to a new responsibility and lifestyle.

Solution: Don’t stress–it’s quite common to have some doubts in the beginning (especially if your pup howls when left alone or is frightened by common household sounds). Just hang in there. Chances are, you’ll soon wonder how you ever survived your boring dog-deprived former life. Everything takes time. Talk to other people with pets, join online communities and follow facebook pages that will help you adjust to your new life. You have a lot to learn but it’s so worth it!

Ask 3LD: Help! My Puppy Has Taken Over My Life

And now for something different.

This is the first of what will be an occasional Q and A column, where I answer real questions from real humans.

Today’s column will be useful reading for any puppy owners struggling with their new bundle of joy, or any puppy owners-to-be who want to be as prepared as possible for what lies ahead.


Dear 3 Lost Dogs,

A couple months ago I got a 3-month-old Australian Shepherd mix from a shelter. He was as cute as cute could get and he seemed relatively chill at the time. Now, he is possibly the WORST decision I have made in my life. Let me tell you what I (and maybe others) are going through.

BEFORE: Before the dog, I was just an average boy who liked video games and hanging out with friends. I had one cat. I would spend my days chilling and doing whatever I wanted (when I wasn’t doing schoolwork or chores).

These were the most relaxing times of my short, unfulfilled life.

This was how I always wanted to live my life: in peace with all the time in the world. I had dreams, one of them being to get a puppy. I always loved my uncle’s dog and my friend’s dog, so I thought, “Why not bring the party to my house? It’ll be fun!” My mom asked many times, “Are you sure you can handle this? Are you sure you can train him? Having a puppy is a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG responsibility,” to which I replied hastily with, “YES, YES, I KNOW. NOW WHERE IS THE PUPPY?” So we went to the shelter, I picked up a puppy, and we got home.

And that’s when everything changed…

AFTER: The first two days with the puppy were not too bad, sure he peed and pooped in the house and sure, he barked at night. But, those were easily fixed. I thought, “Gee, taking care of a puppy is not all that bad!”

But ohhhh how dumb I was. All the days after that have been a living hell. Once I actually started giving the puppy a little more freedom than just in his cage and outside, he started to become a little devil. I can’t do anything without supervising him or else he’ll try and eat the cat or come upstairs (we are trying to keep him downstairs until he has learned some things first) or go in places he isn’t supposed to. Every time I want to do something, I have to put him in his crate.

In the past week or so, I have constantly been in the “I swear to God, I’m gonna march right back to the shelter and hand you back” phase or the complete mental breakdown of “Oh dear God why did I ever do this?”

These last two days, I think I’ve gotten out of those phases, but there’s still the huge problem of “How can I possibly get my life back?”

I feel like MY life has now become the DOG’S life because whenever he isn’t asleep or I’m not gone, I have to constantly focus on him. I seriously (and this is where it gets silly) want to go back to the times where I could play video games and relax. And when friends come over, it’s a nuisance to say, “Hey I’m sorry but I have to take the dog outside to pee/run around/do something for the five hundredth time. Just pause the game and wait here for the next ten minutes.” And when I put the dog in his crate, the dog hears us talking and starts losing his mind.

So please, is there any way for me to do something about this and go back to the good ol’ days or is it “game over” (haha puns…) for my peaceful life? Any and all advice would help! Thanks for reading and sorry to bother or if I’m a little (or a lot) late to the “Puppy Panic” party.


Wishing I Could Un-Paws My Life


Dear Paws,

Welcome to the puppy panic party! You’re not late. This party never ends.

What you described is a textbook case of the new puppy blues, or as I like to call it, the “What the **** Was I Thinking?!” phase (WTFWIT for short). You’ve learned what can only be learned the hard way: puppy parenthood is a 24/7 job.

It’s one thing to constantly hear that raising a puppy is hard work, a big responsibility, blah blah blah. You get it. You think you understand. But no one truly understands until they actually do it. You find your entire life consumed by the puppy and you go, “holy crap, raising a puppy is hARD WORK! It’s a BIG RESPONSIBILITY! Why didn’t anyone warn me?” (BTW, has your mom said “I told you so” yet? I think she’s earned it. Just sayin’)

Good news. It’s not game over. This 24/7 thing is temporary. It gets much easier. With some work, the puppy will become a dog who just naps at your feet while you play video games all day. But yeah… the “good ol’ days” are over. It’s time to level up. There will be better days ahead, when your dog outgrows the hell-puppy phase and becomes your best buddy and you can’t imagine life without him.

First, let’s talk about the parts where you done good:

1. You easily dealt with the initial peeing in the house and barking at night. A lot of people struggle with this.
2. You made it through the treacherous “I should just take him back to the shelter” breakdown. Everyone experiences that. Not everyone makes it through.

When you’re in the middle of a difficult challenge, like, say, raising a puppy, it seems like everything sucks. You can get so caught up in how much everything sucks that you overlook the things that don’t suck. A bit of advice to anyone in the WTFWIT phase: celebrate tiny victories. Your puppy finally slept through the night for the first time? Victory! Your puppy had only one accident in the house today, instead of three? Victory! These might not seem like much, but they mean you’re making progress.

Another positive is that you understand the need for a crate, supervision, and keeping him in areas where he can’t cause too much damage. It might seem like you’re restricting his freedom a lot, but that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do with puppies until they learn how to behave. This will allow much more freedom in the long run.

Pat yourself on the back for me.

Now, actual advice for getting your life back:

Train the dog to chill while you play video games. It’ll be a while before you can completely relax. There’s no way around that. But like I said, this is temporary. Do the work and you’ll get there faster. You’re gonna teach him that being quiet earns rewards.

Put the crate in the room with you, where the dog can see you. Get a container of treats. Any time the puppy is quiet for a second, toss a treat into the crate. As long as he is not whining, keep feeding. For now, limit each training session to 5 minutes. To end the session, let him out when he is quiet. You don’t want to reward barking by opening the crate.

Over a week of training, slowly increase the amount of time the pup has to be quiet to earn a treat.

You can use a similar training method to get him to stop harassing your cat.

Australian shepherds are smart, energetic dogs who need lots of physical AND mental exercise to be well-behaved. Have you started using Kongs/puzzle toys yet?

And get your friends to help you play puppy training games. Wear the pup out, then put him in his crate (where he can see you) with a puzzle toy while you guys play video games, occasionally tossing treats into the crate to reward quiet.

One last thing – Why did you want a dog?

You had dreams for this puppy. What did you dream of doing? What cool stuff did you want to do with him?

Do you do anything fun with him? If not, why not? You really need to do something that’s not about solving behavior problems. Maybe teach him tricks or frisbee or set up a backyard agility course. It’s time you got to experience the rewarding parts of dog ownership. They make the unpleasant parts worth it.

(Closed) DH bought us a dog, and now it’s ruining our marriage.

  • mountainrunner333
  • 6 years ago
  • Wedding: April 2009

Long story ahead…sorry, I felt like I needed to cover all the details.

Backstory: I grew up in a family that LOVES animals and always had pets around. I can’t think of a single person on my side of the family that would think of harming an animal or directing hatred towards it in any way. My husband of several years grew up in a family that ever had pets and holds a negative attitude about animals in the house, their cleanliness, etc. Why have an animal when you could just have kids instead type of attitude.

So: When we got married, both of us had been in school for 4 years and the thought of pets and animals were never discussed in detail. We got married pretty young after dating for a brief time. So, I guess that is where the first errors happened. We were just getting on our feet with jobs and a new city, and whenever the topic of pets came up we would usually brush it off because the timing was never right, and my husband had never had a pet before so I didn’t want to pressure him. Fast foward a few years, we are living in a house with a large yard, we have no kids, and the deal Darling Husband made with me was that after we had lived in a house for a year he would be ready to talk about pets and how they might fit into our lives.

Now, I always brought up the topic of dogs sensitively to Darling Husband because I wanted it to be a decision we made together instead of me nagging him. So we agreed that if/when the time was right, we could think about getting a dog. To be honest, Darling Husband would bring it up more than I would.

A few months ago I was having a ton of stress because of a work event coming up where I would be away from home for a week. I mentioned to Darling Husband that visiting the humane society and petting some dogs would help me relieve some stress and calm down a bit, so we stopped by. I guess that was the second mistake. There was one dog that latched onto both of us, and we spent a ton of time petting her and seeing how she behaved. Darling Husband tells me we should go home and get all the papers figured out to adopt her and that he would go back and get her the next morning! I was resistant but went along with it…probably third mistake there.

That dog wound up being adopted by the time we checked back in with the humane society. I must have had my hopes up more than I thought I did, because when I called Darling Husband to let him know she was adopted I started crying. 24 hours prior to that we weren’t even considering a pet! So that was a day or so before I had to leave on my work trip – my husband found another place a few hours away with puppies to check out. After I had left for my work trip my husband let me know he was driving up to check them out, and soon enough he texted me with some photos of one in particular that had latched onto him. So he got the puppy and bought everything we needed for it, and took care of it for a week while I was gone – this is the guy who came from a family that doesn’t care for animals and said he didn’t know if he ever wanted a pet. That was probably the next error, letting Darling Husband adopt the puppy.

I grew up with a lot of pets, but this puppy is hands down the best behaved dog I’ve ever seen for only being 7 months old. I take care of him 80% of the time – getting up in the morning to feed him/let him out, taking him for walks/playtime at the dog park, vet appointments, etc. I’ve tried to make the transition to having a pet as easy as possible and I can’t imagine a better behaved dog – he’s NEVER woken us up at night, been aggressive, or chewed anything up like furniture. The worst thing he’s done is have a few accidents on the floor (we have non-carpeted floors). He started to shed a little, but I’ve been on top of brushing and bathing him and vaccuuming the house. Our dog doesn’t lay on furniture or sleep in bed, so it’s been pretty easy.

ANYWAY, where it gets super complicated is the fact that I have seen my husband act overly aggressive with our dog when he’s misbehaved. If our dog play nips, my husband lashes out at the dog. I don’t want to go into detail about what he’s done. If our dog puts his head on the furniture, he lashes out at the dog. Darling Husband will say that he considers the dog part of our family, but then when the puppy misbehaves, he yells and says that he hates the dog, hates the way the house looks with a dog living in it, and hates his life with a dog. That he only did it to make me happy, and then suddenly starts listing numerous other things he does only to make me happy (the food we eat, the activities we’re doing together, etc…).

I had never witnessed my husband’s anger like this until we got a dog. I don’t know why suddenly he’s saying that he’s only doing things we do to make me happy. I don’t consider myself someone who nags my husband. I’ve brought up the fact that I would re-home our dog to make him happy but he won’t let me. As an animal lover I hate the idea of getting rid of ours and would be really embarrassed to re-home him, but I don’t know how to make Darling Husband happy otherwise. My mom is very aware of the fact that Darling Husband has a strong personality and has questioned me about his attitutes in the past but I always brushed her off. Now I’m seeing the way he handles conflict in a way I haven’t before, and frankly I don’t know how to respond to his anger and outbursts. I can’t imagine if he would react like this to a baby or not. I don’t know what to do. Suddenly I feel like he’s just living a life to keep me happy while sacrificing his own happiness, and now I don’t know if he’s on board with any of our life choices or if he’s just letting me get what I want so he feels secure knowing I’m happy. We moved to the city we live in for my job. He says he gave up his career so I could have mine. Maybe I’m overthinking all of this. I don’t know who to talk to – everyone thinks we are the model couple.

Can someone offer words of advice? Thank you.

Is Your Dog Ruining Your Relationship

In This Article

Having a dog in might be one of the most gratifying experiences in a man’s lifetime. They greet you with excitement every time you come home, they cuddle up with you when you relax after work and they make perfect companions for your outdoor activities as well. Although they definitely require time, attention and work, once you have a dog, you can never imagine your life without him.

But what if your, or your partner’s relationship with your dog is interfering with your marriage? Is Fido affecting the time you spend with your other half? Can a dog cause a divorce? Read about the clues your pet is ruining your relationship.

Today we’re letting you know what are all the ways your dog is ruining your relationship involuntarily –

1. Your dog sleeps with you in bed

Going to bed with your loved one is one of those moments when you can finally have some peace and quiet after a long day at work and cuddle up together. Often it is the only part of the day couples manage to fit in some intimacy time, especially those with small children.

Can pets ruin your relationship in such a scenario?

If your dog sleeps with you in bed and doesn’t let you spoon with your other half chances are your dog is ruining your relationship. While having a dog sleep beside you might be a very cute thing at first, after a while, you will realize that your dog’s sleeping habits might be creating an emotional distance between you and your partner.

2. Your dog gets all the attention

Relationships are all about giving and receiving. It is the lesson number one we all learn when entering a relationship built on trust and commitment. But has something drastically changed in your love life since the moment you or your partner got a dog?

Dogs are adorable creatures, and it is easy to become obsessed with them. We create their Instagram profiles, take photos of them, cuddle with them, give them pet names, talk to them, and so on. Most of these things are normal parts of having a pet, but sometimes, things can get a little out of control.

You might finally be alone with your partner, but instead of talking and finally spending some quality time with your loved one, you just can’t stop playing with your dog. If this situation sounds familiar to you, then you might be neglecting your partner because of your pet, your dog is ruining your relationship.

In this case, you need to work on finding a balance between spending quality time with your pup and being overly attached to him (not to mention that this kind of relationship could lead to other behavioral problems in dogs such as separation anxiety).

3. You don’t have some alone time with your partner

While some dogs will leave you much-needed space and time with your partner, others simply don’t accept the fact that they are not the center of attention all the time. Some dogs can even get jealous of their owner being all cuddly with their partner to such an extent that they always choose to sit between the couple. Your dog might also be following you wherever you go, making having a moment for intimacy nearly impossible.

However, if this is the case, it is not your dog’s fault. You should show your dog that you need to have some time in private by teaching him to keep himself entertained when he’s alone. Put your dog in his bed, provide him with some toys and reward him for staying in his place.

In order to have a fulfilling relationship, each couple needs to have some alone time only for them, your dog excluded. Prevent your dog from ruining your relationship.

4. Your dog is affecting your sleep quality

While the first ways a dog could be affecting your love life are rather direct, this one can affect it completely indirectly.

Your dog is ruining your relationship by affecting your sleep quality by sleeping next to you and moving a lot, or by barking during the night and interrupting your sleep. Interrupted sleep can make you feel tired in the morning, and eventually lead to sleep deprivation.

When we are sleep deprived, we experience more mood swings, feel rather cranky and sleepy all the time. Feeling excessively tired throughout the day makes us less enthusiastic in general, which inevitably leaves consequences on all our relationships, marriage included. Your dog is ruining your relationship if you are not getting adequate sleep because of it. Once you solve your sleeping problem, you will likely see all your relationships improve.

The dilemma Five years ago I gave in to the urging of my daughters and husband and acquired two dogs. I am not a dog person but felt that feelings might develop. They did – negative ones, which have worsened over time, and now I cannot stand the animals. As well as the usual care and attention – walks, feeding etc – they are intermittently incontinent and frequently wake me in the night by scratching the floors. No amount of training has cracked the problem. My husband takes responsibility for them when he is around, but my daughters no longer pull their weight. I am starting to dislike my life intensely. Like a lot of working mothers, I feel underappreciated. I have suffered from depression throughout my life and am on antidepressants. I feel the dogs really are the final straw. My husband dotes on them so much he simply cannot believe it when I tell him how I feel. If I asked him to choose between the dogs and me, he would choose me. But he would never forgive me for making him get rid of them.

Mariella replies Hmmm, where to start. Run for the hills and dispense with the lot of them?

Clearly your problems don’t stem from the dogs, but they are certainly exacerbated by them. You could actually divide your letter into two parts, the first part ending just before the line: “I am starting to dislike my life intensely.” I’m sure you don’t need me to organise your domestic life, a skill that frankly I continue to struggle with myself, or tell you how to manage incontinent dogs. My instinct on that is that, like all living creatures, they soak up the atmosphere around them, and the neediness and disobedience you describe are simply a dumb animal’s only way to express its stress. That won’t help you, as you are already feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders and I’m not trying to make you feel guilty.

I will offer one tip on the animal-husbandry front before I move on, as we had similar problems when work meant our dogs had to be cared for by friends and neighbours two nights a week. All of a sudden two perfectly house-trained animals with whom we’d lived happily in a central London flat couldn’t be trusted to get through the night without leaving an unwelcome deposit in the morning. Our vet blamed the move and the subsequent disruption and advised a strict routine, with a meal at exactly the same time at the beginning and end of day and walks at regular intervals, to help diminish their agitation. We embraced his advice and haven’t had an episode since.

The truth is that sorting out your dogs is probably your least daunting challenge. You’ve naturally chosen them as the object of your ire, as they are more easily dispensed with than husband and children. As you say, like many women you are feeling dumped on, and that’s compounded by your propensity towards depression. Stewing over the injustice of your situation, in my own experience, only makes things worse.

Antidepressants are seldom the final answer, but at least they should iron you out enough to help you tackle your present difficulties. It may seem stupidly obvious, but a list is always helpful: looking at your responsibilities, however onerous, laid out in order, just awaiting the tick of completion, can create a pleasing if slightly delusional sense of achievability. It’s also a way of addressing the unfair division of labour within your family.

If your girls are old enough to start shrugging off responsibility for the pets they coveted, they are also old enough to start taking on their share of the chores. Instead of your madly trying to juggle everything and ending up achieving nothing, division of labour is the way forward. Distributing the day-to-day tasks among the wider family is something we women are rather bad at. We go about resenting the weight of our duties while failing entirely to delegate control. It’s a skill set we need to hone better, as it’s essential for our sane survival in today’s allegedly equal but still woefully unfairly distributed domestic environment.

Obsessing about the injustice of these incontinent beasts will only prolong your misery. When you stop making the dogs the focus of your irritation you’ll get a far clearer view of the real causes of your unhappiness. It may not be good news for the rest of the family when the spotlight hovers over them, but tackling the root causes rather than the nearest example of your frustration is the only way forward.

If you have a dilemma, send a brief email to [email protected] Follow Mariella on Twitter @mariellaf1

The 9 Ways You Are Stressing Your Dog Out

Have you ever experienced stress? Of course you have! We have all experienced stress!

The problem is that undue stress (the kind that is unpleasant and can’t be controlled) causes numerous health problems.

  • Change is sleep habits (loss of sleep, exhaustion)
  • Pain and aches
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Skin problems such as eczema
  • Heart disease
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Reproductive conditions
  • Indulging in alcohol, cigarettes, and/or drugs
  • Thinking and memory problems

Just because I know you are mentally focused on it, let’s quick talk about the positive form of stress. This is the stress that we often choose: learning a new skill, playing a new game (yes, even video games cause some stress), or meeting a potential new significant other.

Minor stress, that we can control, is good for our psyche.

Just like minor stress, positively teaching your dog something new is good for your dog.

The problem is that the positive kinds of stress are so miniscule compared to the negative stress that we often can’t control.

These stresses are dangerous because they often slowly creep up on you and at some point even begin to feel normal, despite the damage they are doing to you mentally and physically.

Stress is actually dangerous to your dog, too. It can cause:

  • ulcers,
  • depression,
  • anxiety,
  • behavior problems,
  • aggression
  • heart disease
  • skin problems and chewing

9. Telling him “Get Down”

Ohhhhhh my!!! This one makes my eyes widen and twitch when I am working with a new client who is training their puppy.

You’ve heard it!

You’ve probably said it… “GET DOWN” when your dog jumps on the counter, furniture, or your unwitting neighbor.

And, the problem is not the words themselves; the problem is that 95% of the time the owner uses the same word or words to command the dog to lie down.

The problem?

I know a lot of people don’t see it right away.

But if “Get Down!” means get off the counter and “DOWN” means lay down on the ground on your belly… it is totally confusing for the dog.

Not only is the dog unlikely to get off of whatever he has jumped on or accosted, but he is even less likely to get off that person/object and lay with his belly on the ground.

In essence, you are ruining TWO commands and cues while almost promoting two bad behaviors (jumping and ignoring obedience commands).

So when I hear people using “GET DOWN”, I have them change the “lay down” command to “Drop” or something that sounds totally different.

And, when I am working with a new dog and person and the dog jumps, I prefer teaching the dog “OFF”. Because “off” doesn’t really sound like anything else.

8. Saying “It’s Okay, It’s Okay”

No other phrase, in the history of dog training has conditioned more dogs to fear and panic.


I mean, you are just trying to comfort him, right?

The problem is that those words mean something to us humans, but typically we use them in highly stressful situations with our dogs.

We take them to the vet and try and reassure him, “it’s okay, it’s okay”.

We take him to the groomer and leave him saying “it’s okay, it’s okay”.

All the while, the dog feels like he is NOT OKAY and he is distressed and panic.

So, essentially after a very short period of time, just this short phrase can bring on panic for your dog; even in normal happy situations.

He has been conditioned that those few words bring moments of stress and discomfort.

You are better off to not acknowledge your dog when he is stressed.

Or, better yet… give him something else to do (dog obedience) so that he can be distracted by something fun, he can be rewarded, and he can let go of his fearfulness.

Giving your dog an obedience command that he can successfully accomplish is a great way to help a stressed or fearful dog!

Watch This Video To Learn What To Do Instead

If you are looking for a simple exercise you can teach your dog for how to get him to start to listen to you in a way that DOESN’T stress him out…

7. Treating Him Like Royalty

If your dog is reading this, he may well be pushing your computer away right now, ha ha.

He wouldn’t want to admit it, because who doesn’t want to be treated like royalty occasionally. But, the more often you do this, the more it is causing him stress.

I mean, think about it. It is nice to have someone cook your meals, or do your laundry or drive you places… but would you NEVER want to be able to do those things for yourself? I think that would drive me crazy!

Dogs want confident and clear leaders and the rules and obedience that follows.

The average dog is not 100% confident in all situations.

However, if they don’t trust you as a leader (because you are so busy fawning all over him and giving him everything he needs) the feel as if they have to step up and be in charge.

This can cause defensive aggression and protective aggression when you are trying to meet someone new or invite people into your home.

This can also create possession aggression and regular dominance aggression because if you are rarely forced to share your resources and then someone has the gall to expect you to share, it can cause anger.

Your dog wants a leader. A fair leader, but a leader that he can trust and defer to.

Sure, you can treat him like royalty occasionally, but don’t make it a habit.

6. Pulling Him Around On His Leash

I think 95% of people are guilty of this, at least at some point in time.

I mean, the whole point of having a dog on a leash is to be in control.

And, it is critical to use the leash for that purpose.

But so few people actually “teach” their dog to be on leash and train them how to act and react on leash.

So many people clip a leash on their dog and head out into the big bad world with little to no training.

Then they end up pulling or being pulled everywhere.

And, no one wants to be pulled around by their neck, especially toward things that make them uncomfortable.

The worst offenders, in my opinion, are small children and small dogs.

I have seen small dogs locked down on their belly, refusing to move, and small children dragging them around like dust mops. Can you imagine the stress of that for the dog who has absolutely no control.

It isn’t hard to understand how some behaviors cause a dog to become aggressive.

5. Constantly Using “NO” or “BAD DOG”

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again! We are all too focused on pointing out the bad or the wrong that our dogs do and we are so infrequently telling them what they do that we actually like.

People are constantly saying NO, NO, no, no, no.

Everything that even resembles something that “could” be bad or go wrong is quickly followed with NO.

Ironically my dogs don’t even know “NO” for this reason.

It is too often abused.

They also don’t know “bad dog” unless I am following it with anecdote and kissing them on top of the head.

My opinion of dog training is to focus on all of the GOOD things my dog does and teaching him and rewarding him for what I like and only dealing with correcting bad behavior when I am forced to.

Which means, that after a few dog training sessions, my dog is choosing the behaviors that I want and extinguishing the behaviors that I don’t like!

Try it, it is amazing!

4.Yelling at Him

Yelling is a general, across species way of raising stress.

Want to stress your kids out? Yell at them.

Want to stress out your co-workers? Yell at them.

Want to lose your job? Yell at your boss.

You get the idea.

Raising your voice in anger is never the way to prove a point.

And, even if you think the environment is loud, remember that your dog has impeccable hearing. Don’t yell!

Colleagues of mine, who also compete in dog training sports often can be heard miles away shouting commands at their dogs. Heck, my ex was one of them!

I, however, want a dog that is so in tuned with my training that he is listening for a whispered command.

I don’t need to shout. Heck, I don’t want to shout.

And, if my dog and I are out on the field competing and I want to reiterate something that he seemingly didn’t hear or isn’t doing, I can quietly give him a second command!

3. Multiple Commands For A Single Behavior

We humans are notorious for this!

After all, we often have multiple words for the same object or thing.

Learning English, especially, must be incredibly confusing.

  • Hogie
  • Sub
  • Hero
  • Grinder
  • Po’Boy

All refer to the same kind of sandwich.

As humans we learn that the “ph” in phone makes a “f” sound. We adjust to homographic words like tear and tear. I mean, your eye can have a tear and your pants can have a tear but the word only changes in your mind as you read the sentence.

Dogs just don’t need to know these things.

They also don’t need or don’t want long strung out commands that mean the same to us but confuse the grey muzzle hairs out of them.

For instance say “Fetch” or “Take” don’t say “go get your ball, go grab your toy, bring me that…”

Keep it simple.

Use words that your dog knows and has a positive association with and you will lessen his stress.

2. Punishing Him

The key with punishment is that it comes AFTER the behavior.

Yes, there is positive punishment and even negative reinforcement, but the average person doesn’t have any desire to learn the intricacies of these dog training terms.

Punishment, most often, comes after a behavior… that is what makes it “punishment”.

And, you can make your 5 year old daughter feel bad and punish her for leaving her toys out by making her spend 30 minutes in her room to think about why what she did was wrong.

But, your dog doesn’t function this way.

His intelligence and understanding is not this complex.

We can’t send him to his crate and make him think about the wall that he just ate.

By punishing him after the fact, we are just creating stress and confusion that never even really gets solved.

He just thinks you lose your temper sometimes and he should be weary when you look and behave in a certain way!

Get All My Tricks For Training Your Dog WITHOUT Using Punishment!

Check out our Hands Off course that shows you how to fix your dog’s worst behaviors WITHOUT resorting to hitting, yelling, or using nasty training devices on our dogs (which I personally think are abusive!) like electric shock collars, prong collars, or choke collars.

1. Hugging and Kissing

Nothing will get you bitten faster.

Like the video above so aptly demonstrates, dogs are not comfortable with human affection that goes against dog behavior.

You may see a naughty dog… I see an idiotic trainer that hasn’t accurately learned to read dog behavior.

You can see that the dog trainer in the video is happy and seemingly proud of the two dogs in the video and he must feel some kind of connection to the dog that he has on the leash.

However, the dog’s body language does not mimic the man’s feelings.

The dog looks a bit excited and tense. After all, he is being restrained by the leash and kept from playing with the other dog and the ball.

Nothing about the dog’s body language or facial expressions say that it is seeking love and affection or restraint.

And, I want you to note that the dog DID warn first. But it happens SO FAST. Not all dogs growl, snap, snarl or make a huge display. The dog showed his teeth, the guy didn’t let go (because of course he didn’t see it or I suppose feel it) and the dog corrected the trainer. It can happen THAT FAST. This is why I say a growl isn’t always a bad thing.

And, whether you like it or not, or realize it or not… hugging and kissing from a human to another species comes across as RESTRAINT and force.

Dogs don’t really restrain one another, unless they are mounting and mating.

So doing this to a dog that you don’t really know and don’t have that kind of relationship with opens you up for a bite like this one…or worse.

Yes! Yes, I know there are some of you who will fight tooth and nail that your dog likes to be hugged and kissed.

Heck, one of my dogs loves being hugged and kissed and she even presses her snout into my face and she curls her head into my shoulders.

The difference is that I have been loving on her like this since she was a wee puppy and I have TAUGHT her that this is how we show affection.

And, (this is a BIG ONE) she is also an affectionate dog.

Not all dogs like being petted. As a matter of fact, I have owned a few. They would tolerate me showing them affection, but they would NEVER like or accept it from anyone else.

Do your dog a favor, keep your affection to things that he/she likes and don’t add stress by forcing a dog that doesn’t want this kind of affection to tolerate it!