Dogs experience a full range of basic emotions, with sadness being one of them. Your lovely dog, which is usually a ball of energy, seems sullen; the dog is eating, and it is not sick; however, it is just not responding to you normally. If you notice that your dog is sad, it is good to figure out what is making them sad before it affects their overall health.

Your dog may only be adjusting to a new environment, or they are bored. While sadness is a normal thing for both humans and dogs to experience, too much of it is detrimental. There are multiple reasons that can cause sadness in dogs, and we will cover each of them below. You will also find helpful information on recognizing sadness in dogs and tips to alleviate your dog’s sadness for the long term.

Why Your Dog Is Sad 

Many of us think that dogs do not get sad because most of the time, they help us get over our bad days. Their constant love shines through to makes us smile, and that is why we need to find what is making them sad and sort it fast! What is making your dog sad could be;

  • They Are Stressed Or Depressed

Life is not all a bed of roses for dogs either; there are points where they get stressed or sadden by events happening around them. When a dog is stressed or depressed, they withdraw and do not engage much with people. Losing their owner or someone they were close to can make dogs sad. 

Switching homes suddenly to new owners is another reason dogs get sad, especially if they were very attached to the previous owners. One can try to engage the dog to play or take a walk to ease the stress.

  • New Environment

A change of scenery or environment can present a sort of culture shock to your dog. For instance, you move from the quiet suburbs to the noisy city, and your dog is not used to it. The change of environment may sadden the dog because they miss their old home. In this case, just give your dog some time to adjust. 

  • New Diet

Your dog’s diet has the power to affect its mood. Suppose the food you feed your dog is low in protein, its chances of developing lethargy and depression increase. Dogs, just like humans, are affected by what is going on in the gut; hence, a high protein diet can help fight this—the better the food, the healthier the dog.

  • Illness

Sometimes, your dog’s withdrawal is due to the onset of an illness.  One to three days before visible symptoms start appearing; your dog may be sullen or mostly sleepy. It is crucial to observe your dog for other symptoms to have information that can help the vet diagnose the illness.

  • Displaying Submissiveness

Our pets are smart; they usually have a clue when the owner is not happy about something they did. Once you reprimand them, you find that they try to avoid you for a few hours until they are sure you are not mad anymore. In this case, you find that they are more withdrawn and may choose to sit somewhere you cannot see them.

  • Mistreatment

Dogs have memory, and when someone mistreats them, it is hard to forget their face. Dogs that get mistreated for a long while tend to be quieter and reserved around people because of fear. When you adopt a dog from the shelter, you might run into this issue as some shelters don’t have good management.

  • The Season

When winter rolls around, it comes with its set of troubles for dogs. Apart from the low temperatures, you find that some dogs also get into low spirits; it is like the weather is making them sad. This is because they cannot go anywhere or do anything outdoors; therefore, boredom reigns sovereign.

  • Feeling Excluded 

A new pet in the house is a source of excitement more especially if you have kids around. If your dog has been enjoying attention for years and suddenly a new pet comes, it will sulk for a while. This is because everyone’s attention focuses on the new pet, which leaves the dog feeling excluded.

How to Recognize Sadness in Dogs

As a pet owner, knowing how to tell when your pet is sad is essential because you want to differentiate sickness from sadness. Common signs of sadness in dogs include:

  • A reduced appetite; your dog is eating but not as much as usual.
  • Aloofness.
  • The dog avoids human contact.
  • Development of compulsive behavior such as continuously licking its paws.
  • They sleep more than average.

Dealing With Sadness in Dogs

Now that you know that your dog is sad, what do you do about it?

Ask the Professionals

It is good to see the vet beforehand to rule out any diseases. If your dog is not cheering up after a few days, then maybe it is something bigger that needs medical attention. When you get to the doctor, and the pooch is not sick, seek a behavioral expert’s advice. The behavioral expert can shed light on why the dog is not responding the way you want them to even though you have identified the source of the issue.

Regular Exercise

No matter how busy life gets, taking your dog for walks or playing is important for their overall wealth. Regular exercise helps boost neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins that make the dog feel better. If you do not have the time, you can get your local dog walker to do it.

You cannot go outside much during winter, but there are ways to exercise indoors, such as engaging in a tug of war, teaching new tricks, or walking up and down the stairs. Do not let your dog lay idle if you want them to operate at their best at all times.

Better Diet

The diet you expose your dog to will affect its general health; instead of feeding your dog food rich in carbohydrates and low protein, select foods rich in protein. You can throw in some veggies, carbohydrates, and fruits, but the main ingredient needs to be a good protein source like beef, chicken, or turkey.

Provide Attention 

If the dog is sad due to a recent loss or traumatizing incident, be more empathetic. Spend more time with your dog by going for walks or playing or training. The extra attention can help direct the dog’s thoughts to happier events.

Avoid Frequent Punishments

Some dog breeds are naturally naughty, like a labrador or a border collie, but too much punishment can cause a dog to be sad and fearful. Instead of using punishment to rectify bad behavior, use positive reinforcement training. The plan is to reward the dog when it responds to you positively while being sad. This will be a good distraction for the dog as it will chase the sadness away with every reward it gets.


Watching your dog be sad is not a comfortable feeling because you want them to be bubbly and cheerful. Whenever you realize your dog is sad all of a sudden, contemplate on what might have happened within that period. This is an excellent way to narrow down the cause of sadness and attend to it.

Don’t worry; your dog will not be sad for a long time. If you employ the tips featured above, we are sure your pooch will be back to its full glory in no time.


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