Just as people can become depressed, so can your dog.
Dr Helen Whiteside, the chief scientific officer at the British charity Guide Dogs says, “It’s outdated to think that dogs just need a walk or two a day to be content. Without different forms of mental stimulation, dogs can begin to show signs of behavioral issues, such as anxiety and frustration.”
Some common symptoms of canine depression to watch out for according to Guide Dogs include a loss of appetite, destructiveness and low activity levels. Some other signs of depression are hyperactivity, barking incessantly and a loss of interest in things they used to enjoy.
Changes in a dog’s life or routine can cause them to feel out of sorts, so if there’s been a divorce, a move to a new house, kids heading off to college or moving out or even different working schedules and patterns as happened during the pandemic, watch your pet for signs of depression.
They offer some tips for preventing your pup from feeling down.
Food-based problem-solving puzzles: Hide treats under cups and move the treat around, releasing it when the dog chooses the right cup.
Foraging for toys and treats: Satisfy your dog’s natural urge to hunt, problem-solve and play. Use household items to hide the treats instead of buying toys.
‘Sniffari’ walks: Try walks that go at the dog’s pace, allowing them to stop and sniff wherever they like.
Interactive toys: Give less active dogs a reason to move – encourage owner and dog to play together.
Sensory activities: Teach dogs to find smelly items or treats, or turn on a bubble machine in the garden.
Physical activities: An agility course might suit some breeds. Create your own using tree stumps, low walls or other obstacles.
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Credit: Guide Dogs