Do you feel like your dog is unhappy? Do you feel that he has changed, that he is no longer as happy as before? If your dog seems “unhappy”, there is necessarily a reason that we will try to identify here and especially solutions to succeed in stimulating it more.
Unhappy dog: how to spot the warning signs?
A dog is not unhappy for nothing and a dog is not born unhappy either, even if, as we say, some breeds really look like “beaten dog” …
Joking aside, it is rather anthropomorphic to lend the dog feelings such as unhappiness or happiness. It is much more consistent to speak of balance or emotional distress.
Indeed, what we consider a happy dog is a balanced, spent and loved dog. And what we could consider as an unhappy dog is a dog with behavioral problems, lack of spending or interactions for example.
To identify unhappiness in a dog, it will be much easier to observe what usually makes him happy and therefore, in contrast, to identify signs of “unhappiness” in him.
For example, if your dog is dynamic, energetic, that he plays regularly with you, that he cooperates in education, that he has quality sleep, that he has “normal” stools, respectful interactions with fellow humans and humans, etc. is that it is after all very balanced and therefore “happy”.
And conversely, you will be able to ask yourself questions and start to worry if your dog:
- is always in need of attention and activity,
- adopts destructive behaviors,
- barks excessively,
- becomes aggressive,
- has eating problems (overweight or underweight), etc.
This list is of course not exhaustive and, from the moment your dog adopts excessive behaviors or changes his attitude abruptly for example, it is because he is not well in his paws and therefore potentially unhappy.
But fear not, if you have any of the above problems with your dog, it is not that you are a bad master and that your dog is unhappy with you, it is simply that it is necessary to readjust some factors to allow your doggie to cohabit better within your social group and therefore that this cohabitation is more harmonious.
Unhappy dog: what are the causes?
Your dog can be “unhappy” and feel unwell for different reasons, here are the main ones:
Unhappy dog because of health problem
Obviously, if you observe a sudden change in behavior in your dog, it is important to ask questions and especially to consult a veterinarian so that he rules out any possible health problem.
Indeed, it is quite possible that your dog suddenly changed his attitude because of pain or discomfort. Sometimes it is difficult if not impossible to see with the naked eye what can make your dog “sick”, hence the importance of consulting a veterinarian, especially if the behavioral changes are accompanied by feeding problems example.
Also, be aware that an injury can make your dog “unhappy” in the sense that pain or even the medication administered can weaken it. In this case, do not hesitate to speak to your veterinarian so that he adapts the treatment or when he eventually reassures you that this change will only be temporary.
Focus on the dog’s depression
A dog can also suffer from real depression. A dog suffering from depression is sad, no longer wants to play, isolates himself, eats little, no longer wants to cuddle and shows signs of anxiety. It can even happen that the dog becomes messy. Depression in dogs can be linked to illness (including certain hormonal or brain-related illnesses), untreated chronic anxiety, or a life-changing experience like the death of their owner. It is then a real disease which must be diagnosed and managed by a veterinarian, and ideally, a behaviorist veterinarian.
Unhappy dog due to unsuitable environment
It is also possible that a dog does not feel comfortable within its social group.
Especially if he does not feel safe, that he has no framework or limits. Sometimes, if you want to give your dog too much freedom, you end up making him “unhappy” or at least “insecure”.
Know that it is very important to set up rules of daily life, that they relate to the food, the contacts or even the space, so that your dog feels supervised, guided and therefore in safety. A dog left on its own will undoubtedly develop behavioral problems that can actually affect its well-being and its daily balance.
In addition, your dog may not feel well in his environment more generally. This can for example be the case of a fairly anxious dog who lives in the city with a lot of stimulation, or a dog who arrives in a new home for example (second adoption).
We can also notice this behavior in a dog who has just undergone a change of environment, such as a move, or a sudden change of social group (departure or arrival of a member within the social group).
Unhappy dog because of an unbalanced master / dog relationship
Without throwing stones at anyone because everyone does their best with the information and knowledge they have, it is true that it can happen that a master sometimes does not understand the true nature of the dog and does therefore does not have a suitable attitude towards his. But if you are reading this article and you think that this is your case: then you have already done the most difficult to know: to become aware of it.
So, you must understand and accept your dog as it is: neither a child nor an animal to submit. To educate and coexist with a dog is to understand its true nature, without considering it as a dominant being to tame but without considering it as a small fragile thing to protect and make happy at all costs. It is important to find the right balance.
Of course we all try to make our dog happy, but it is important to do so with consistency and common sense. It is not, as I mentioned above, to let him do whatever he wants and to end up “suffering” his dog and being completely dependent on it.
A balanced relationship between a handler and his dog implies listening, cooperation and mutual respect, and this requires in particular an adapted and caring education, the response to the dog’s basic needs and a consistent and fair attitude on a daily basis.
Unhappy dog due to lack of spending
I mentioned it, for a dog to be balanced, it is necessary to meet its basic needs, and in particular its spending needs.
A bored and under-spending dog can develop severe behavioral problems and depression can be one of them. Yes yes, a dog can get depressed. Thus, a dog that is not stimulated daily can end up looking unhappy. And a dog that is unhappy will express it through troubles such as excessive barking, destruction, running away, moments of unmanageable excitement, etc.
Never forget that a dog must be outside of his garden every day for a minimum of 30 minutes. He must meet regularly with his peers, have intra AND inter-specific social interactions, be able to exercise physically, certainly, but also and above all mentally and in an olfactory manner, etc.
Unhappy dog: how to stimulate it?
Now that you have surely identified the cause of the problem you are having with your dog, it is time to react and find solutions to stimulate him more and allow him to feel better in his paws.
Tip # 1: Consult your veterinarian to possibly identify a physical problem that could weaken your dog.
Tip # 2: Also, do not hesitate to call on a specialist in canine education and behavior to help you identify the cause (if it is not medical) and find suitable and personalized solutions.
Tip # 3: Set up daily life rules so that your dog has a secure environment. For example, give him food only once or twice a day, never self-service, offer him a basket and teach him to go there on request or even regulate contacts by no longer tolerating requests for attention from your dog and thus being the initiator of all interactions.
Tip # 4: Regarding the basket, offer him a comfortable basket, in which he will feel good. The basket should also be placed in a place without too much stimulation or too much passage. And above all, rule n ° 1 to respect: you do not disturb a dog when he is in his basket! It is very important that he feels safe when he is there and that this place becomes his refuge.
Tip # 5: Spend your dog daily: offer him walks outside the garden, in various places, play with him, offer him regular education sessions and always based on a positive and caring education, for example learn him funny towers, etc. Clearly: spend time with your dog but always be the initiator of the start and end of each activity.
Tip # 6: Regarding the expense, do not hesitate to start an activity to do in pairs with your dog, which you can set up regularly. It can be a dog sport or something. The goal here is to set up a ritual, a regular activity which allows you to spend your dog (with pleasure) but also to strengthen your relationship.
Tip # 7: Finally, when there is a change of environment or social group for example, do not abandon your dog, allow him to better live the changes by continuing to take care of him as if nothing had changed.