Mistakes Which Can Make Your Dog Depressed

Mistakes Which Can Make Your Dog Depressed

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Science hasn’t figured out yet whether dogs suffer from depression in the same way people do. They certainly experience mood and behavior changes, but those changes are usually temporary and traceable to a recent event in the dog’s life. For example, perhaps the kiddos just headed back to school after a summer spent swimming and playing with their dog, and she misses having them around. Or maybe you’ve just added a puppy to the family and your older dog is feeling left out.

Dogs who suffer the loss of a family member (human or pet) often go through a grieving period. And of course many dogs abandoned at shelters suffer a period of sadness and uncertainty.  Grief relief in the form of a custom made bach flower essence can help the transition period of loss.  Contact Diane at Dianefortheloveofanimals@yahoo.com for a custom treatment bottle to deal with grief for yourself or your pet.

The problem with diagnosing clinical depression (which is different from short-lived episodes of depressed behavior) is that even in humans, there’s no biological test to identify the condition. Medical doctors take note of symptoms and what the patient tells them about their feelings to arrive at a diagnosis.

Many people who cannot talk and hear pets must rely on their powers of observation to determine if a canine companion is feeling down in the dumps. Generally speaking, when a vet or veterinary behaviorist or animal communicator describes a patient as depressed, the dog is displaying a change in normal behavior.

6 Reasons Dogs Get Depressed

1. She’s dealing with an undiagnosed medical problem

If your dog’s behavior changes, even if you suspect you know why, it’s always a good idea to check in with your veterinarian. Many changes in behavior symptomatic of depression, including lack of appetite, potty accidents in the house, sleeping more than usual, reluctance to exercise and sudden aggressive behavior in a dog who has never shown aggression, can also be signs of any number of underlying medical conditions.

2. He’s feeling ignored

A healthy dog who is feeling depressed may lose interest in eating or playing, become destructive, have accidents in the house or stop running to greet you when you come through the door. Like a sleepy, sluggish dog, a depressed pooch often just needs more quality time with his human.

Get into the habit of spending an uninterrupted hour with your dog each day engaging in physical pursuits, grooming rituals, training exercises and good old tummy rubs. It will lighten both your moods!

3. She’s not getting enough exercise

Sadly, some dogs become socially inhibited when they aren’t getting enough exercise and playtime. This can take the form of a decrease in interaction with other family members, or choosing to isolate themselves in their crate or another room. If your normally happy dog suddenly isn’t, consider the possibility that she needs more exercise.

Most dogs need much more physical activity than their owners realize. Your dog should be getting an absolute minimum of 20 minutes of sustained heart-thumping exercise three times a week. Thirty minutes is better than 20, and six or seven days a week is better than three.

Minimum exercise requirements prevent muscle atrophy, but don’t necessarily build muscle mass, strengthen tendons and ligaments, hone balance and proprioception, or enhance cardiovascular fitness, which is why more is always better. If you can provide your dog daily walks as well as additional daily training sessions to meet your other exercise goals, even better!

4. He’s suffered the loss of a human family member or pet

It’s not unusual for dogs to grieve the loss of a person or animal friend they are bonded with. According to the late Dr. Sophia Yin, a veterinarian and applied animal behavior specialist, dogs feel the same basic emotions humans do, including grief, fear, anger, happiness, sadness and even possessiveness.

When a dog is mourning a loss, depression is common. Signs of depression in dogs mimic those in people — sleeping more than normal, moving more slowly, eating less and showing a limited interest in playing.

If your dog seems depressed at the loss of a person or animal he was close to, engage him in activities he enjoys, such as a walk, a game of fetch or a trip to the dog park. It’s really a matter of distracting him with things he enjoys until sufficient time has passed and he’s no longer looking around every corner for the one who is now absent from his life.

And it’s best not to expect a quick fix. It can take from a few weeks to a few months before your dog’s depressed mood begins to lift.  Again as mentioned above,  a custom Bach Flower essences treatment bottle can help your pet deal with their grief holistically.

5. Her favorite human is depressed

Your dog is very observant of your emotional state, which she can detect by observing the tone of your voice, your body language and other subtle clues, including your pheromones (how you smell). The way you move, speak and behave all send subtle signals to your dog that indicate your mood.

For example, when you’re in a situation that’s stressful to your dog, such as at your veterinarian’s office, she’ll look to you to help her calm down. If, however, you seem tense and nervous, she’ll likely become even more anxious. Your dog is extremely intuitive; so if you’re feeling blue, don’t be surprised if she seems depressed as well.

6. He’s being subjected to punitive behavior training

Dogs who are punished for undesirable behavior instead of being rewarded for positive behavior may stop interacting with their owners in an attempt to avoid punishment. They adopt a depressive state of mind called “learned helplessness” because they feel powerless to avoid negative situations.

I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of positive reinforcement behavior training, not only to help your dog become a good canine citizen, but also to preserve and protect the close and priceless bond you share with him.

5 Tips for Helping a Depressed Dog

1. Keep daily routines as consistent as possible. Pets do best when they know what to expect from one day to the next. Try to keep mealtimes, exercise, walks, playtime, grooming, bedtime and other daily activities on a consistent schedule. Exercise is a powerful tool to help increase your pooch’s endorphins, or “feel good” hormones. Lots of walks (with plenty of opportunities to sniff) can be a powerful mood enhancer.

2. Keep your dog’s diet and mealtimes the same and spice up what’s on the menu. It’s important to continue to offer him the same food he’s used to, at the same time each day, but if you find your dog isn’t interested in eating much, consider offering a yummy knucklebone for dessert, or make a tasty treat for training time that he hasn’t had before.

Store what he doesn’t eat in the fridge, and offer it to him again at his next regularly scheduled mealtime. Use his hunger to help him get his appetite back by resisting the urge to entice him with unhealthy food toppers.

3. Be careful not to inadvertently reward your dog’s depression. It’s only natural to want to comfort your sad pet, but unfortunately, giving attention to a dog who is displaying an undesirable behavior can reinforce the behavior. Obviously the last thing you want to do is reward a lack of appetite, inactivity or other types of depressed behavior in your dog. Instead, you want to help her over the hump.

A better idea is to try to distract her with healthy, fun activities that provide opportunities for positive behavior reinforcement. This can be a walk, short training sessions, a game of fetch, nose work or offering her a food puzzle toy or recreational bone.

4. Give it time. Your dog’s depression may take a few days or even weeks to blow over, but eventually most pets return to their normal lively selves. If at any point you feel your pet is suffering unnecessarily or there is something more going on than a case of the blues, I recommend discussing the situation with your vet or a veterinary behaviorist.

5. Use natural remedies, if needed. There are some excellent homeopathic and Bach flower remedies that can be easily administered to your depressed dog until you see an emotional shift for the better. Some of my favorites include homeopathic Ignatia, several Bach flower remedies including Mustard and Honeysuckle, and Green Hope Farm Grief and Loss.  Custom treatment bottles for your unique situation can be obtained from Diane Weinmann at Dianefortheloveofanimals@yahoo.com.


Can Your Dog Tell If You’re Happy or Mad?

Can Your Dog Tell If You’re Happy or Mad?

By Dr. Becker and Diane Weinmanndog-listening-big-ear-27392035

Does your dog ever look you in the eye and seem to know exactly what you’re thinking? This isn’t all in your imagination. Dogs are keen observers and have adapted to living closely with humans for more than 10,000 years.

Shown below is some scientific research on how dogs can interpret your mood. Now, as an animal communicator, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that your dog can communicate and understand everything you say—they just do it mostly through telepathy- which is my specialty! Many of you can understand what you dog needs or is saying based on their actions and body language. This is your way of receiving communication from your pet. My way, since I never really met most of my clients, I receive the information using a picture of your pet. So what do you think a picture can tell you? Probably diddily-squat! But for me, as I look into your pet’s eyes, I can connect with their mind and soul and tell you everything. Many people who have never experienced animal communication do not believe in it. This information below is basically for them so they can scientifically understand how they pet “knows” them!

New research published in the journal Current Biology confirmed that pet dogs can, indeed, discriminate emotional expressions in human faces. A group of dogs were first trained to associate pictures of happy or angry faces with a treat reward.

The dogs were shown pictures of half faces (either the upper half or lower half of a face) showing happy or angry emotions. Half were given a treat when they touched their nose to a happy face while the other half were rewarded for touching the angry faces.

The dogs were then tested using pictures of faces they hadn’t seen before or showing parts of the face that were new to the dog (so a dog that had previously seen the lower half of a face would be shown the upper half).

The results showed the dogs were quite clever and able to differentiate between the different emotions.

Dogs Likely Can Discriminate Between Happy and Angry

Dr. Kun Guo, a psychologist and expert in Human-Animal Interaction from the University of Lincoln, told BBC News:

“Showing dogs only half of the face and then the other half separately means they can’t rely on the shape of the eyes or the mouth — they must have some sort of template in their mind … So it looks like they can really discriminate between happy and angry.”

The researchers speculated that dogs probably used their memories of real emotional human faces to help them complete the experiment successfully. Interestingly, during the training portion of the study it took the dogs about three times longer to learn to touch an angry face.

The researchers said it seemed as though they didn’t like to touch an angry face, and perhaps they really have an understanding that an angry face is something they do not like.3 Another thing dogs seem not to like? People who are mean to their owners.

Dogs Snub People Who Are Mean to Their Owners

Research led by Kazuo Fujita, a professor of Comparative Cognition at Kyoto University, showed that dogs will refuse food offered by someone who was uncooperative to their owner.

For the study, dogs watched as a person either helped their owner open a box, actively refused to help with the task, or behaved in a neutral manner. The strangers then offered food to the dog.

It turned out the dogs were more likely to choose food being offered by the neutral party and refuse food offered by the uncooperative party.The study shows the dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people and may make decisions based on those evaluations, even if it doesn’t benefit them directly. Fujita told Discovery News:

“We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest … This ability is one of key factors in building a highly collaborative society, and this study shows that dogs share that ability with humans.”

Dogs Will Stop Trusting a Person Who Lies

Separate research has even shown dogs learn when a person is not trustworthy and no longer follow their commands. In one study, all dogs initially went to a container that a researcher pointed to, under which a bit of food was hidden. The researchers next pointed to an empty container after showing the dogs that food was hidden under a different container. Then, in the final phase, the researchers again pointed the dogs toward the correct container with the hidden food. However, by this point the dogs were no longer willing to trust him and only 8 percent went in the direction he pointed. According to the study:

“These results suggest that not only [are] dogs … highly skilled at understanding human pointing gestures, but also they make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behavior flexibly depending on the inference.”

Your Dog Listens When You Talk

Research has shown that the average dog understands about 165 different words, although they may learn many more if you train them to.

It’s known that dogs pay attention to the tone of your voice, the pitch and the rhythm in your speech, and research suggests dogs also sense a difference between the verbal and emotional components of speech.


Dogs appear to process emotional cues and meanings of words in different hemispheres of the brain, similar to humans. Dogs also pay attention to your body language, taking note of your posture and eye contact, for instance.


Dogs will follow your gaze similarly to a 6-month-old infant, but only if you convey the intention of communication, which suggests they’re quite in-tune with your communicative signals. Dogs have even been shown to experience cross-species empathy in response to a crying baby. In humans, levels of the stress hormone cortisol tend to rise in response to an infant crying, which is said to be a primitive form of empathy. Research shows that dogs, too, experience increases in cortisol levels when a human infant cries.


Dogs also displayed a combination of submissive and alert behavior in response to the cries. According to the study, published in Behavioral Processes:

“These findings suggest that dogs experience emotional contagion in response to human infant crying and provide the first clear evidence of a primitive form of cross-species empathy.”

Taken together all the research suggests dogs and humans have developed many forms of communication that allow us to understand one another. Of course, if you’re a dog owner you probably knew that already. If you are one of my clients—you already know how it REALLY works!Think I am crazy