Puppy Blues: It’s Normal to Wonder if You Made the Right Choice

Jul 1, 2024

Bringing a puppy home is usually a happy and exciting event, but it’s totally normal to wonder if you made the right choice. New science from Helsinki shows that many new puppy parents feel anxiety, tiredness, or frustration during their dog’s puppy stage. Almost half of puppy parents have these feelings, so you’re not alone.

The study was done at The University of Helsinki. The research team found that some puppy parents go through something like the baby blues. They have a short-term drop in mood and sadness when their dog is a puppy and just comes home. Taking care of a puppy brings many worries, fears, and frustrations, and can even make it hard to bond with the new furry friend.Photo: A woman buys new gear for her puppy.

“The study found that these ‘puppy blues’ show up in three ways: anxiety, frustration, and tiredness. These often happen together, but sometimes one or two of them may be more noticeable,” said researcher and psychologist Aada Ståhl.

An anxious puppy parent might worry about the puppy’s health and development and their own ability to care for the dog. They might blame themselves when things do not go as planned.

A frustrated puppy parent can feel unhappy. They are stressed due to the unexpected challenges of caring for a puppy. They might find it hard to bond with the puppy, wish they had never gotten the puppy, and even think about giving up the dog.

For the tired puppy parent, the puppy stage is a time of mental and physical strain. They might have trouble sleeping and find the constant attention the puppy needs tiring and stressful.

“Just under half of puppy parents report having significant negative experiences during their dog’s puppyhood phase, with only about a tenth reporting the most severe levels of strain. This is similar to the rates of postnatal depression. However, the negative feelings fade relatively quickly,” said Professor Hannes Lohi.

Interestingly, the longer the time has passed since puppyhood, the more positively people remember it. In other words, the negative feelings about puppyhood ‘fade’ over time.

The Process Behind The Puppy Blues Theory

The study first collected the experiences of over 100 puppy parents. They had felt emotional strain after bringing a puppy home. Based on this data, a survey was created to measure the ‘puppy blues.’ The survey collected responses from over 2,000 puppy parents. Steps were taken to make sure the survey was accurate and reliable.Photo: A Golden Retriever puppy lays on a blanket.

“Capturing the phenomenon in a measurable form is important if we are to better understand its characteristics, how common it is, and how long it lasts. This will also help us understand the factors that may make some parents more likely to experience the ‘puppy blues’ and help us develop prevention and support measures,” said Ståhl.

The study is a new step in understanding the relationship between humans and pets. Although the term ‘puppy blues’ is commonly used among puppy parents, no comprehensive research had been done on the subject before. Studying this will raise awareness. It will help people prepare for possible sadness and better understand their experiences.

The study is part of a larger project by Professor Hannes Lohi’s research group. The group is investigating the link between owners and animals and its importance for wellbeing.


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