Is my dog unhappy?
Is your dog sleeping a lot, disinterested in you, refusing to eat or becoming aggressive? They may be trying to tell you they’re unhappy. Here are some top tips on how to spot if your dog is unhappy, and how you can help change their mood.
Dogs use their behaviour and body language to communicate with us. When happy and healthy, they are naturally playful and inquisitive, wanting to be involved in family life. However, when they’re unhappy, they become disinterested, may sleep a lot, and in some cases they may even refuse to eat or become aggressive.
You may be able to tell from their bark how they’re feeling. Dogs who are happy and playful may bark when they’re excited or in social situations, while their tails frantically wag. Alternatively, dogs who let out erratic and constant barks may feel distressed or unsafe. Get to know your dog, and how they interact with you, other people and fellow four-legged friends. You’ll soon be able to decode their barks and be able to step in should you need to.
Common causes of unhappiness in dogs
There are a whole host of reasons dogs may feel unhappy, here are some of the main causes to be aware of, but it’s also important to recognise any recent changes to their routine or living situation which may have triggered an emotional change in them.
Dogs who are bored, especially breeds who are known for having lots of energy, may become distressed or destructive when unhappy. Where possible, try to limit the amount of time your pooch has to spend on their own, you could even introduce another four-legged friend into the house for companionship.
To keep them entertained, try hiding some small treats in puzzle toys which can keep them distracted for hours. Another great way to keep your dog happy and healthy is by making sure they get plenty of exercise, whether that’s out on multiple walks a day or playing games like fetch in the house.
Dogs can develop anxiety when they’re overly reliant on their owner, or feel unsettled in their environment. Following two years of lockdowns where owners were at home much more than before, separation anxiety is a common problem dog owners face.
To help combat this, be sure your dog has a safe space they can retreat to when they feel anxious and some puzzle toys to keep them occupied. You could also try one of the plug-in calming diffusers, available in most pet stores nationwide.
Dogs, much like us, form deep attachments to their owners and fellow four-legged family members. As such, they’re likely to grieve following the loss of someone close to them.
During this time, it’s important you stick to their routine as much as possible, and don’t spoil them with treats to try and make them feel better, as they may make it a habit to display sad behaviours to trick you into giving them something tasty. With some time, and plenty of belly rubs, their behaviour should return to normal.
We know it can be difficult to see your dog down in the dumps, especially if it leads to aggressive or destructive behaviours. The most important thing is identifying what exactly is making your dog unhappy, then you can take steps to help combat that. With some small changes, and a bit of time, they should hopefully be back to their normal, tail-wagging selves.