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How Does a Dog Act When He is Depressed?

Shaggy wire haired dog laying on a doormat in front of a white country style door

Dogs can surely feel depression in the form of sadness and grief. But the thing for the owners is to understand the actual feelings of their dogs. Owners can’t directly ask about their feelings but can recognize them by determining the signs that show different emotions in their dogs. Keep reading to know more about the common signs of depression and learn how your dog will act when depressed.

Why is My Dog Depressed All of a Sudden? Click here to learn more.

What Are the Signs of a Depressed Dog?

Your furry companion can show depression in various ways. The following are the most common signs that will alert the owners when their dogs are depressed.

Shedding – If your dog is facing excessive hair fall, it may be a sign of worry for the owners. Normally, shedding is caused due to the coat type and seasonal changes but sometimes depression can be the reason for your dog’s heavy shedding.

Lethargic – Depressed dogs will suddenly lose interest in playing, walking, and other daily life activities. Hence, if your pup has becomes less active and seems to have lost the purpose of life, depression could be the culprit.

Inappropriate Elimination – When your dog is depressed, he/she may start to pee or poop anywhere in the home instead of the specified place. This inappropriate elimination can be a sign of depression.

Hiding – Mostly sensitive dogs hide in their safe places (like in a crate or under a bed) especially if they are depressed or sad. Anxious dogs due to any fear or phobias also show this sign that also shows their depression.

Licking – Depressed dogs often lick or chew their paws a lot to soothe themselves. This can cause some serious issues to the dogs (like infections) especially if they have bugs in their skin or bad skin conditions.

How Do Dogs Behave When They Are Sad?

Bulldog with a sad face laying on the floor

The dogs showing a change in their normal behavior could be suffering from emotional distress. These behavioral changes can also point towards their physical problems but most dogs behave this way when they are sad. To overcome these problems, it’s good to have a professional assessment from your veterinarian. The following are some common dog behaviors of dogs when they are sad.

Excessive Barking

This is the most common behavior of dogs when they are unhappy. They can bark, howl, and growl excessively due to aggression (even if your dog is as cool as a cucumber). Sad dogs can also bark more frequently due to fear and phobias. Mostly, they bark at night when they are all alone. Also, some have phobias of strange voices.

Why is My Dog Depressed After Getting a New Puppy? Click here to find out.

Loss of Appetite

Golden Retriever laying on the floor next to a full food dish

Normally, dogs love to have food and get happy when their owners give treats to them. Sometimes, they also demand more from their owners. But, if dogs are sad or depressed, they stop eating or eat much lesser than usual. This can happen to depression which can be caused by stomach conditions or any other physical illness. In this situation, the owners should take their dogs to the vet.


Puppies used this ‘cry out’ noise to learn to communicate with their mother. That means dogs learn this noise to communicate with their owners too. When the dogs are sad, they will continuously whimper without any reason to show their sadness to the owners. This can be overcome by spending time with them or maybe by communicating with them more frequently.


Yellow Labrador laying in bed under a blanket

If dogs are sad, they start to disappear and will find some odd places in the home to hide. This is because of the stress they are feeling. They may sleep under the bed or in a cupboard. This behavior of dogs can be managed by playing games with them or providing more attention.

Demanding Extra Attention

Mostly, dogs get sad when owners are not giving proper attention to them. Even if they are sad due to any other reason, many dogs seek extra attention when they are sad. This type of behavior is often in the case of sadness which is related to pain, disease, lonesomeness, or boredom. Dogs can act particularly needy to owners which means they want their extra attention to calm themselves down.

Being Destructive

Wired haired Jack Russell Terrier sitting on the floor next to pillow stuffing.

Many dogs tend to become destructive and behave quite wildly when they are depressed. They suddenly get much rougher than normal with their toys as well as anything else in the house. Sometimes, dogs can attack any stranger human or animal too due to their destructive behavior. In such situations, try to increase the level of exercise and mental stimulation of your dog to improve the destructive behavior.

Refuses to Perform Outdoor Activities

Dogs love to play especially when it comes to outdoor games (fetch). Similarly, they are quite happy to do outdoor activities (like walking, exercising, and playing). So, if dogs are refusing to perform such activities, this means they are sad or have some emotional issues. Providing special attention to the dogs with their favorite treats can be a good treatment for such behavior.

Sleeping More than Usual

Brown and white dog asleep on a couch

Depressed dogs might sleep more than usual because they are restless and unenthusiastic. They are living without any motivation and spend most of their time lying around the house.

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