When he came home, he was adorable and full of energy and such a sweet little thing. But gosh was he a lot of work. And gosh was I tired. And gosh did I just want a break from the little pup. I cried, a lot. And I realized that this was just the start. There were going to be a lot of sleepless nights and barking and training hurdles. Did I make the right decision? I started to question myself and my patience. Is this little guy going to take away my freedom for the next 12-15 years? Is it worth it?
The depression and anxiety started to creep in...
And on the other hand: Am I being selfish? Am I being crazy? You can't just return a dog. And besides, this is what I had wanted for years, right?
If you're feeling this way: you are not alone. This is a phenomenon called the Puppy Blues.
The Puppy Blues
Much like postpartum depression, the "Puppy Blues" is the feeling of helplessness, anxiety, frustation, and worry after welcoming a new family member into your life (your puppy).
According to Mayo Clinic, most new moms experience postpartum "baby blues" after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks.
While your puppy isn't exactly a baby, it is a life that you're bringing into your family, and with the early days, comes a lot of sleepless nights (night barking and early mornings to let your dog out), lack of "you time" (everything is about the puppy, and you're taking the puppy out every 2-3 hours), and frustration (accidents, learning to communicate).
You're tired and that's totally normal.
Symptoms of new dog anxiety
You might start experiencing "puppy blues" as soon as you bring your dog home, or it might take a few days. These effects can last days to weeks or even months until everything settles and you acclimate.
It's not uncommon for new puppy owners to feel anxious, angry, depressed, helpless, or out of options. As I mentioned earlier, I cried a lot. And I was surprised by this reaction.
You too, might find yourself crying a lot, not being able to eat, lacking sleep (this one is so real my friends!), and lacking focus. You might find your performance at work suffer or your relationship start to take a toll from the new puppy.
But don't fret — you are not stuck! And there are a lot of things you can do!
Don't take it out on your puppy
First things first, don't take our your frustration on your puppy. They were just removed from their family and everything they know, and are just learning how to behave in the human world. It may be difficult to keep your patience, but don't blame the puppy for accidents or chewing up your favorite pair of heels. They don't know any better, and are not doing it on purpose.
Remember, your puppy is a baby. They bite, they nip, they want constant attention. The baby will grow up eventually.
It is never okay to hit a puppy. If they're chewing, use Bitter Apple Spray, if they went in the wrong place, use a Dog Odor Neutralizer. And yelling at a puppy also won't help. Try to be patient, and remove yourself from the situation if you are feeling frustrated until you can practice patience again.
Patience, like any other skill, can be learned. Meditating is a great way to practice patience. Asking for help from your partner can help you increase your personal patience store. Remember there are tools and potentially people, around to help.
Also remember to be patient and kind to yourself. It's completely okay to feel this way! It's normal to feel anxious and regretful. Just remember to give yourself and your relationship with your new puppy time and space.
Contact the breeder
If you're starting to feel puppy regret, it's 100% okay to contact the breeder. We did this, and we voiced some of our concerns. Our breeder was such a great resource! She went over what we can do to help alleviate some of the behaviors and frustrations, and explained to us why they are happening.
Any good breeder will also have a backup plan if a placement doesn't work out. Our breeder offered to take the puppy back and find another home for him in a month if we still felt this way. Giving it time was the perfect answer. For me, the regret subsided 3 weeks after we brought our puppy home (and the breeder certainly helped with addressing our concerns).
Give yourself time
All good things take time. All new relationships take time. It's important to remember to be patient with yourself and your puppy and give your relationship some time. It takes time not only to develop a bond, but also to acclimate to everyday life. It takes time for the puppy to stop barking and crying all night and to learn that they're in a safe space. It takes time for them to learn your schedule, and learn what is or isn't a toy.
Before you get ready to give up, remember that all you might need is a little bit more time together.