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Dogs and depression - struggling with new puppy

(28 Posts)
TheWildRumpyPumpus Thu 28-Jul-16 07:49:29

Please could I ask for some advice/guidance/reassurance?

We brought our golden retriever puppy home last week after planning extensively, finding good breeder, waiting for the pups, getting all the equipment, reading the recommended books. I guess I'm trying to make it clear that we didn't go into this lightly!

He's very cute, typical puppy behaviour (biting, occasional accidents although clean at night straight away).

The problem is that my thoroughly treated and managed depression has reared it's head for the first time in years since he arrived. I have been medication free for a long time but am eyeing my anxiety/depression tablets in the hope of getting through the next few months.

I suffered terribly with PND, was hospitalised for months. I was worried that the responsibility of having a puppy would be so similar to a baby that I even discussed it with a therapist, the breeder and my GP in passing. All reassured me that pet ownership has only positive affects on depression. I really wonder whether PND should be looked at differently - I feel zero bond to him, would gladly give him back if it weren't for the judgement I'll get from friend/family.

This is our first dog but I grew up taking care of a menagerie of animals and we've dog-sat for friends. I guess it's different when it's your own and never-ending.

DH says we have 3 options - I start taking my meds again, we give him back to breeder or we just struggle through as we are.

I really don't know what to do. Sorry for the length of this post but can anyone offer words of wisdom?

Wallywobbles Thu 28-Jul-16 07:55:30

Walking is good for depression but puppies can only walk for a fairly short way. They are a real handful and need a good routine. And the sooner you get a handle on it the better it is for everyone.

I'm sorry not to be more help but you've got at least a year of quite full on responsibility with this breed. But your husband is probably right about your choices.

What would be the consequences of giving him back apart from feeling a fool?

mix56 Thu 28-Jul-16 08:00:56

Is the depression linked to the puppy though? are you anxious? worried ? nervous of the dog?
Most puppies just fill you with joy, they are fun, silly, unendingly loving. They get you out walking & talking to new folk, stroking them is calming. (Obviously they are quite hard work at first with digging & peeing & gnawing stuff, but you knew that.)
But "Bonding" is for children surely. Does it matter is you are indifferent to the dog ?
I'm not sure I can help, but I am so envious of you & your new Pup !

TheWildRumpyPumpus Thu 28-Jul-16 08:16:37

Depression definitely linked to arrival of puppy, it's been totally under control for a long time. I only see a therapist as am training to become a counsellor ironically and it helps with my self-awareness etc.

I feel exactly the same as I did with the babies tbh. Anxious about the day ahead, fleeting thoughts of running away from home to escape or slipping the dog some raisins to rid myself of the situation (I WOULD NEVER ACTUALLY DO THIS but the thoughts are there).

I really don't want to start taking meds again - I was feeling positive, confident, enjoying life again. But I recognise that my reaction to a happy lively puppy is not normal and the lack of control over the situation is almost unbearable for me.

Consequences of returning him - we'd lose money but that's not a problem. The breeder has an enormous wait list and I imagine he'd get snapped up quickly, he's only been with us for a week.

I am sure when we can get out of the house it may improve a little.

davos Thu 28-Jul-16 08:30:32

Hi, I hope I can help a bit.

We were waiting for our puppy when my grandfather had a massive stroke, he lost control over his left side and the hospital couldn't do anything for him due to other health problems. We were told not to leave the hospital if we wanted to be with him when he passed. 48 hours later he died.

I helped my mum and my aunts with everything and was dealing really well. We had to postpone bringing the puppy home as she was due the day before the funeral. The breeder was happy with this.

I picked her up the day after and within a week depression seems to have reared it's head again. It clear that my grandad passing is part of this. But a huge part is not being able to leave the house for very long and the hard work around caring for a puppy (including lack of sleep).

Today is the first day we can take out and I already feel better. Just knowing going out is an option has lifted my spirits.

Since I knew it was down to grieving and feeling confined, I haven't been to the doctors or gone back on medication. I am going to give it another week or two, after being able to go out. To see how I feel.

I don't know how bad you are feeling or how long before you can start going out so don't know if this will help you. If it's going to be a while, can you go out and leave the puppy at home. Get a break from the responsibility and get some time to yourself?

ChairRider4 Thu 28-Jul-16 08:31:12

Hard one not going to lie for first few months I struggled and considered giving back found it to much to almost handle by 4/5 months lived to bits had mini wobble at 8/9 months when he seemed forget everything he learned

But now at rising two I not be without he is my reason to go out and makes me meet new X people and go to new places and now people talk to me so is conversation opener rather than see my wheelchair and not know what to say

Things that helped was getting a trainer in for couple of 1-1 lessons also I used a dog walker couple times a week to get a break and tire him out as he got older (Good for his socialisation skills as well

TheWildRumpyPumpus Thu 28-Jul-16 08:56:16

Thank you for the responses. Sorry to hear about your grandfather davos. We have another 3 weeks or so until we can go out properly.

DH worked from home yesterday and took over so I could take the kids out for a bit. Last night I felt a bit better but woke this morning with complete feeling of dread again.

I just wonder whether it will be best for puppy to go back to breeder immediately and find a home where everyone will get pleasure from his company.

tabulahrasa Thu 28-Jul-16 08:56:49

"I recognise that my reaction to a happy lively puppy is not normal"

Hmm, it is and it isn't though...yours is exasperated by your existing issue and so more extreme, but, it is normal to be feeling overwhelmed, panicky and be thinking of returning the puppy.

I was in tears several times in the first week, you see threads on here all the time saying similar things.

So that bit is normal.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Thu 28-Jul-16 09:03:26

Hmm, it is and it isn't though...yours is exasperated by your existing issue and so more extreme, but, it is normal to be feeling overwhelmed, panicky and be thinking of returning the puppy

That's somewhat reassuring to read, thank you.

I feel like a complete idiot for thinking I was capable of looking after another dependant being. As I said, it it weren't for the judgement I'd get for returning him he'd have gone already.

davos Thu 28-Jul-16 09:04:06

I do think puppies can make you feel overwhelmed.

I said to dh last night 'it's just like having another newborn' and he agreed.

Some of this maybe that it's reminding you of the newborn stages, when you had pnd and that's what's triggering it.

I can't tell what's right for you. I am not you and don't know how bad you are feeling. My feelings is that I made a commitment to the puppy and have to try and get through it. I owe her that. But that's not a judgment on you. Because we are all different and depression effects us all differently.

I do tend to think of our dogs as another child though. Some people may say that isn't healthy.

BetweenTwoLungs Thu 28-Jul-16 09:10:34

Give it some time - I felt awful when we got our dog, very much a 'what on earth have we done' type feeling as puppies are so full on and limiting in many ways. But puppies grow very very quickly and worst case scenario and things still don't feel great, your breeder would be able to rehome a dog just as easily in a few months.

Have you signed up for some puppy training classes? The social aspect of those really helped for me.

Shizzlestix Thu 28-Jul-16 10:10:25

The puppy blues are well known. I resented mine for the first six weeks, I'd say. It caused rows between me and the DH, there were tears and that horrible feeling of dread hanging over me. I look back and realise it was because I wasn't ready and the DH and I had different training methods, not something I'd considered, really.

You DO have choices: return the dog-how will that make you feel? Or carry on and it will probably all come together IF a strict routine is put in place for the puppy and responsibility is shared. You should not have to shoulder all responsibility for a dog.

Costacoffeeplease Thu 28-Jul-16 10:24:36

I would return the puppy now, while he's young enough to go to another home quickly - if you still feel like this in a couple of months it will be more difficult for him

TheWildRumpyPumpus Thu 28-Jul-16 10:47:07

Thanks again for the advice.

We are trying to follow the schedule in the 'perfect Puppy' book, to reasonable success. He does most of his business outside, goes through the night until 6.30 and apart from the mad bitey 10 minutes every now and then he's little trouble.

It's the fact that I still have these negative feelings that concerns me but it sounds like it's not untypical.

SausageDogGeorge Thu 28-Jul-16 10:59:36

Hi, sorry to hear you're struggling. We got a puppy 12 weeks ago (he's 4.5 months old now) and I found it incredibly hard work for the first 2 months, and still do to an extent. I imagined that it would be wonderful having a cute puppy around, sitting at my feet and happily cosying up while we watched TV on an evening......how wrong i was!! The reality is so different; he chews and bites everything; he's wrecked so many of my clothes, i've cried out of sheer exhaustion on many occasions and I sometimes wish we hadn't got him. He has caused rows between me and my DP and i definitely resent the loss of freedom that getting him has caused - i feel awful saying these things because he is lovely and when he's being good he's great - but i think, with hindsight, we shouldn't have got him.

I too thought that I had planned everything and really thought about what we were getting ourselves into but I don't think i fully understood how much hard work he would be. I'd never had a dog before so didn't fully realise what they were like as puppies.

If he is causing you to be unwell, i would actually send him back - it doesn't matter what people think - pretend you had an allergy to him if it helps? All the best flowers

Floralnomad Thu 28-Jul-16 11:14:35

I think if I were you I'd get him back to the breeder now , I know some people find puppies hard , but if after a week your only concern is how people would judge you then possibly a dog ( or this dog) is not for you . Who actually wanted the dog originally was it your idea or was it other family members ?

AlcoChocs Thu 28-Jul-16 11:30:01

Goldies stay puppies for a long time and tend to be very boisterous for the first year. Easier to manage a small pup than a larger 6 month old leaping about and chewing everything.
Returning sooner rather than later would be better for the pup as still cute and trainable.

lukasgrahamfan Thu 28-Jul-16 13:36:57

I can sympathise. Whilst it not being a PND problem I suffer from stress and have to keep life on an even keel and manage it by not taking on too much for too long.

So I have tried having a puppy in the past but found myself feeling like you do, quite panicked and not enjoying the process, hating myself for resenting the pup and not being able to walk it. And having evenings where I could not relax as pup wanted to play. [But I had no real support or help or respite at the time]. Rehomed the pup to a lovely household with another dog and a huge garden...she ran off with her new friend and didn't look back.

When the situation means poor sleep, little sleep, exhaustion and worry there is not enough joy to compensate the price to pay when dealing with a puppy and all the demands.

I love dogs but would only get an older chilled dog with a sound temperament to cut out a lot of stress. I have done so successfully in the past after being very careful the dogs energy and mine matched, and had just a few days of adjustments rather than months.

Just my take on how it can affect different people in different ways. We are all different and I wish more people would acknowledge that and not judge. If I were you I would return the pup and he will find a new home easily. Do not feel bad about it, too many people soldier on not convinced their dog really 'fits', in situations which may not be the best one for the dog anyway.

Hoppinggreen Thu 28-Jul-16 13:46:00

I suffer from mild unmediated depression but hen we got our GR pup last January I kind of fell into a bit of a black hole. I had them as a child and as my home life was crap at times they kind of helped me through so I think I had unrealistic expectations based on long ago childhood memories.
I seriously thought about rehomng him no if the breeder hadn't been crap I math have sent him back there to be honest.
He's 8 months now and very good and I love him to bits but there's no guarantee you WILL feel able to cope with yours - I do most days but still have a few wobbles. Puppies are bloody hard even if you aren't already suffering with MH issues me I know w few people who had " puppy blues"
If you CAN find a good home for him there's no shame in it.

Hoppinggreen Thu 28-Jul-16 13:50:28

Apologies for typos - house full of noisy distracting kids!!

insan1tyscartching Thu 28-Jul-16 20:22:58

I had terrible PND and was hospitalised because of it. I found Eric's first few weeks awful too. It did feel like I'd suddenly acquired a baby and I felt really down at times.We persevered mostly because everyone would have been heartbroken rather than any bond on my part if I'm honest. It did get better although I had a blip when he went through the adolescent stage but from him being a year old he has been a joy and I love him and don't tell the others he is definitely my dog. I won't evr have another puppy though any other dogs we have will be rescued adult dogs.

EasyToEatTiger Thu 28-Jul-16 21:12:16

Please keep on forgiving yourself. I recently stopped taking my drugs and found myself more anxious and crying than normal but not actually depressed. When you are feeling vulnerable, looking after the baby of another species can feel like a step too far. Can you enrol the help of a trainer or if the breeder is nearby would they help? Please don't feel bad about going back on the tablets. Depression can be such a physical illness. I've had it for most of my life and been taking drugs for about half of it. I derive a huge pleasure from keeping dogs. Puppies are quite tiresome. With the right support you will be with a friend for life.

BagelGoesWalking Thu 28-Jul-16 22:57:57

Don't feel bad about it. Like lukasgrahamfan, I found it too overwhelming, I too fell into a black hole and just couldn't see my way past it. It is totally consuming and I couldn't cope with feeling of being trapped and the feeling that I should be happy when I really wasn't. The pup was rehomed very happily and I've now realised he was completely the wrong breed for us anyway (collie cross). I wish I'd had the knowledge then that I have now about dogs, from Mumnset doghouse and many other sources.

I've since fostered two dogs, which I've enjoyed but they were older, much easier and not nearly as time consuming as puppies are. As fosters, they were with me for about two months, so it gave me the enjoyment of having a dog without the feeling it was all my responsibility.

It's a difficult decision, but you shouldn't your mental health. That has to be the priority.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Fri 29-Jul-16 06:58:46

Thanks again everyone for your experiences.

I was the main driver in getting a dog - DH had a preference for a puppy whereas I would have happily gone for an older rescue.

I did so much research which is what is making it extra galling! We went for the GR as I wanted to be going out for long walks when he's older. I can see that down the line in a year we could be really happy, it's working out if I can get to that point without it harming my mental health in the meantime.

Badgoushk Fri 29-Jul-16 07:06:07

I totally understand where you're coming from. We got our puppy before we had children and I joked that I got post puppy depression! I remember sobbing in the shower!! For me it was the sudden loss of freedom. I couldn't go out of the house for a couple of weeks because of his jabs. We couldn't go to any of our favourite cafes/restaurants as they weren't dog friendly. We couldn't leave him home alone. It was overwhelming and very upsetting. I think admitting the feelings to my husband and Mum helped.

I can't remember how it got better but things improved quickly once we could go out.

Today he's 7 and is fantastic with my 2.5 year old and 9 month old! I'm very glad we saw it through.

Don't beat yourself up over this. It will get better soon but if you can't cope then send him back. Your mental health is more important.

Xxx

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