Even though Labradoodles ( like any other dog breed) cannot verbalize their feelings, there are signs indicating that your Labradoodle is either depressed or sad.
Here are the most common signs that can tell you that your Labradoodle is sad or depressed :
- looks tired, sleeps more than usual, tries to disappear, hides in odd places inside the house
- stops eating his favorite food but eat human food
- constant licking and grooming especially licking feet
- not willing to participate in activities that previously seemed to really enjoy
- not willing to play or go for a walk
- loses interest in interaction with people and other dogs
Just be aware of the fact that all these signs can be indicators of chronic pain or some other underlying health issue. So the first step is to rule out any physical illness or health issue and then to try solving depression or sadness in your dog.
Why Does My Labradoodle Look Sad?
Labradoodle’s body language and demeanor as well as our perception of it can be a complex thing.
First, sometimes dogs just look like they are sad and their appearance has nothing to do with their feelings. For example, if your Labradoodle looks up at you ( because you are talking to him ), with his ears pulled back and those beautiful brown eyes are staring at you intensely, you may get the wrong impression that your pooch is either sad or upset. In reality, your Labradoodle’s demeanor is a perfect response to a person looking at or speaking to him. Don’t be surprised if he slightly lowers his head or opens his mouth to pant while you speak to him ( intensifying your impression that he is sad or upset). This is completely normal and it’s not a sign of sadness in your Labradoodle.
Second, your Labradoodle may learn that if he looks a certain way, he will get more attention and care. So now, that sad face display is a part of learned behavior that your Labradoodle repeats every time when he wants more of your attention. They are so smart pooches! And not sad at all.
Finally, you may interpret your Labradoodle’s otherwise normal demeanor as sad because you feel guilty for some reason. For example, if you are too busy or feeling too tired to pay attention to your Labradoodle, and then you look at him you see the pooch who is resting on his pillow, with his head on his front paws, and somehow that picture convinces you that your dog is sad. A good idea to get rid of guilt is to keep a photo journal of your Labradoodle’s body language. Take a photo of your dog after some happy activity such as a nice walk or play session and then compare it with photos you took when you thought he was sad. Most likely your Labradoodle’s appearance will be very similar in these photos.
Do Labradoodles Get Depressed and Why?
Apart from our wrong impression of Labradoodle’s demeanor or his learned behavior that can trick you, your dog can really get depressed.
Depression in Labradoodle may happen due to a variety of reasons such as :
- Environmental changes like moving to another home, introducing a new family member such as a baby or new partner, or new pet, and kids going off to college
- Owner’s death or death of another canine companion
- Social isolation and lack of mental stimulation
- Empathy to an owner who is depressed or unhappy
- Any major change in Labradoodle’s daily routine such as stay- at -home owner finding a job
- Insufficient physical activity
- Chronic pain
How Do I Know If My Labradoodle is Really Sad?
It’s clear that we cannot rely on Labradoodle’s demeanor to determine if he/she is really sad and depressed. So what are the signs that indicate that something is wrong with our pooch?
Sings that your Labradoodle might be sad or depressed are :
- Low activity level – your Labradoodle seems more tired than usual, spends more time sleeping, or just hides in some odd places in the house. He/she is not so interested in play sessions.
- Change in diet – your Labradoodle won’t eat his /her favorite food, he/she is not wagging its tail when you show up with the treats, and doesn’t look excited when you offer him/her the food.
- Loss of interest in interaction with other people and other dogs – your Labradoodle is not jumping on the door when you come home, and even though your friend comes by with your Labradoodle’s best canine friend, your pooch doesn’t seem happy about it.
- Regression in-house training – your perfectly house-trained Labradoodle starts peeing inside the house
- Excessive licking – your Labradoodle is licking him/herself more than usual and pays special attention to his/her feet
- Excessive barking or howling and whining
If you assume that your Labradoodle might suffer from depression consult a vet. The first step is to rule out any physical condition or illness that may provoke your dog’s strange/different behavior. If turns out that everything is perfectly fine with your Labradoodle, at least in terms of physical health you should then speak to your vet about the dog’s mental health and how to improve it.
How To Cheer Up My Depressed Labradoodle?
If you rule out any physical health condition or illness, you need to do something more about your Labradoodle’s depressive state.
If the cause of your dog’s depression is obvious ( he changed the house recently or your kids went off to college) then make sure you keep his daily schedule on track as much as possible. Dogs love routine, it makes them feel secure and safe. Knowing what he will be doing every day is an important part of your dog’s recovery process.
Provide a quiet, cozy, and snuggly place for your Labradoodle to rest. Relaxed dogs are happier dogs!
Pay more attention to your sad Labradoodle, make outings more interesting and adventurous, choose a new walking route, or buy him/her a new toy. Although they love routine, a small, pleasant surprise can make them feel alive again!
Since dogs are social creatures same as we are, encourage your Labradoodle to socialize more with other dogs. You can even attend some training classes with him or doggy daycare.
Teach your Labradoodle a series of new tricks. By doing this you are helping your dog feels better in many ways. First of all, you are increasing your dog’s focus, allowing him to spend excess energy. Second, you are establishing tighter bonds with him, as you are spending some real quality time together. Third, you are saving him from boredom, giving him a good portion of mental stimulation which is vital for good mental health.
Provide food rich in essential fatty acids Omega 3s and Omega 6s which are very effective in supporting brain function but also the immune system.
If nothing that we mentioned helps and plus you don’t see the obvious reason for your Labradoodle’s poor mental state, do consult your vet, maybe he needs professional therapy. Many vets and dogs behaviorist will tell you that depression in dogs may be treated with pharmaceuticals but also will explain to you that the most effective treatment plan combines pharmaceuticals, careful environmental management, and behavior modifications. There is a good AKC article on this subject.
I hope these guidelines and advice will help you to cheer up your Labradoodle. Good Luck!