Depressed Dog Behavior Treatment

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Sam Basso
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]

Can dogs become depressed? Yes.

Depressed dogs typically will show one or more of the following behaviors:

1. Lethargy;
2. Increased barking or howling;
3. Self harming: licking paws or skin raw;
4. Increased fights with other dogs in the home;
5. Increased signs of anxiety.

The problem is that most dog owners respond to the symptoms of the depression, and make it worse. For example, they will get an electric bark collar to deal with the barking… only to stress the dog out even more, and deepen the depression. Do it yourself dog training always backfires.

The first step in dealing with depressed dog behavior is to take the dog to the veterinarian for a medical exam. It is important to determine whether there is an underlying medical cause. The depression may indicate a serious medical problem in process, and it might not be behavioral at all. If no cause is found, then it can be assumed it is behavioral, and then you need to hire a good dog behaviorist for dog depression treatment.

I have met dogs that became depressed because another dog in the home died. In some cases, the depression continued for a couple of years afterward. In a few cases, the death of one dog ended up over stressing the other dog in the home… and the second dog died shortly thereafter. The death of one dog can become a medical emergency for the other dog.

I also know that dogs that are left alone too much can develop depression. Significant stimulus deprivation can turn a totally normal dog into a depressed dog. Long hours, lack of sufficient social interaction and a generally boring life can trigger dog depression. Once the dog is depressed, then the symptoms take on a life of their own, and once again, a professional dog behaviorist should be hired.

Dogs can become depressed because of the human stresses in the home. If the home isn’t happy, then the dog can become unhappy. An overly hectic home can also create depression in some dogs. Hiring a dog behaviorist is necessary to figure out a solution.

Lastly, depression can happen because of abusive dog training. I heard of a Chihuahua that was treated roughly. It eventually would walk over to a wall, put its forehead against the wall, and just stand there for hours. Whatever the original owner did to this dog had to be pretty bad. These situations require hiring a dog behaviorist, as well.

Depressed dogs are in trouble. Sometimes it is our fault. But it is always our responsibility to help them out. It is inhumane to leave them in this state without treatment. For some dogs, untreated depression means ongoing medical problems because of self harming, or in some cases, an early death.

Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.