Us humans tend to vocalise when we’re feeling down. We can talk to our friends and family, and express exactly what we’re feeling. Dogs can’t do the same. And because we can’t talk to them (no matter how much we wish we could), they have more difficulty letting us know what’s wrong.
However, you can read a lot from your dog’s body language and behaviour. You might not be able to tell if your dog is specifically ‘sad’, but you will notice if they aren’t themselves. We often know our dogs inside out, so when dogs change their behaviour, we just know something’s up. There are some things to watch out for that may indicate your dog is feeling sad or just generally down in the dumps.
Why do dogs get sad?
Dogs can get sad for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they’ve suffered a loss (such as losing another canine companion) or they might be under the weather and feeling sorry for themselves. We don’t always know the reasons why dogs are sad but we can try to cheer them up by showing them some love and attention, and trying to encourage them to play and go on walks.
One of the most obvious signs that Fido is not feeling particularly happy is if they lose their appetite. Sometimes us humans are the same, if we are feeling sad or down, we often don’t feel like eating. Dogs tend to do the same thing. So if your dog stops eating or isn’t fussed about food, then they could be a bit down. It could also be because of a medical condition so always take your pooch to the vet for a check up if they stop eating.
Lack of enthusiasm
Does your dog normally go crazy when it’s time for walkies? If they are feeling a bit sad they may not have as much enthusiasm as usual. They may stay in one spot and not get up when you try and encourage them to go walkies.
Whining or crying
Another more obvious behavior that may signal your dog is distressed. If they’re sad or unhappy, they may whine or cry for attention. More vocal dog breeds may be more likely to do this, dog breeds that don’t bark very much may stay quiet instead.
You can pick up on anxious behaviours and body language. For example, if a dog’s tail is between their legs it may mean they are scared or uncomfortable. They might do things like excessively lick their paws, constantly pace around or pant. Some dogs can also become destructive.
Changes in behaviour
You may simply notice that your dog is active dog and just doesn’t behave like their usual self.
Some dogs end up taking themselves off to another part of the house. They may go and hide somewhere such as under a table or in a quiet room. Sad dogs may generally act withdrawn and not want company – or they could suddenly become really needy and want tons of reassurance.