Cats and Dogs
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What does a dog sound like when its sad?

What does a dog sound like when its sad?

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Depression is a mental health problem and a mood issue. It is identified by having low mood and general loss of interest in different activities of life. Globally, more than 264 million people suffer from depression. However, it is not limited to humans only. As it turns out, our canine friends also suffer from depression.

Dogs have more emotional intelligence than was previously thought of. They experience far greater emotions than they are credited for. Dogs suffer from depression and mood swings due to several reasons. Unlike humans, they cannot communicate these feelings, and dog owners have to be on the outlook of telltale signs of canine depression. Before diving into the warning signs of canine depression, let us first take a look at what causes canine depression.

Causes of Dog Depression

Many factors can have an impact on a dog’s emotional state. Some of the common factors are:

  • Undesirable changes in their routine and environment. This may include moving to a new home, the addition of a new family member such as a baby or a spouse, or the addition of a new pet into the household.
  • Lack of social group and companionship. Loss of human or animal companionship can take a major toll on a dog’s mental health.
  • Fears and phobias leading to unnecessary stress and anxiety.
  • Changes in the lifestyle for e.g. a stay-at-home owner may have to take up a new job and leave the job. It can cause separation anxiety.

For all the dog owners out there, it is imperative to keep an eye on the following telltale signs of dog depression.

Changes in The Appetite

Canine depression can alter appetite patterns. Most dogs lose their appetite whenever suffering from depression. One telltale sign is a visible loss of weight. On the other hand, some dogs might find solace in food and eat more than usual when depressed. Eccentric appetite patterns are usually an indicator of deep underlying issues.

Sleeping More Than Usual and Being Lethargic

  • Most dogs are lazy animals who sleep a lot especially when their owners are not around. However, if the dog starts to sleep most of the day especially when the owners are back home and there is hustle and bustle in the home, then your dog might be suffering from depression. Prolonged and unusual sleep can be an indicator of a physical health problem as well. But if there are no signs of physical issues, then excessive sleep can be a sign of canine depression.

signs of depression in a dogLoss of Interest in Different Activities

  • Most pet dogs are excited at the prospect of going out for a walk and playing with their owners. However, when they suffer from depression and sadness, they lose interest in the activities that once excited them (just like humans).

Excessive Licking of The Paw

  • Paw licking has been linked to psychological and physiological issues. This might be their defense mechanism against underlying issues which can include depression.

Avoiding Human Contact and Hiding

When dogs are suffering from a physiological or psychological issue, they tend to avoid human contact and go into a state of hiding. Sort out your dog and check for physical injuries. If you don’t find it, the issue can be psychological.

  • Dog depression can be cured with the right behavioral and medical treatment. If you suspect your dog to be suffering from emotional distress, take him to a qualified vet like Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center. They provide multiple services to ensure the general wellness of pets in Charlottesville, VA.

What Your Dog’s Barking Means

Are you able to tell whether your dog is happy, sad, angry or afraid? Many dog owners claim they can tell exactly what kind of mood their dog is in based on the variances in the barks and noises they give off.

A recent experiment in Hungary set out to test the theory that humans are able to distinguish their dog’s emotional intentions conveyed in a variety of barks. Under the advisory of Dr. Ádám Miklósi of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, a team of researchers at one of the world’s first facilities dedicated towards investigating the human-dog relationship conducted an intriguing field study.

“Scientists used to think that barking is a random noise without any specific information or content, however, we have a different idea. Dogs might tell us something about anger, fear, happiness, despair. So these are basic emotions which I think humans might be able to recognize in the barking sound,” explains Miklósi.

As the basis of the experiment, Miklósi and his team acted out a variety of situations, which caused dogs to bark and then recorded the canine reactions. A group of people was brought in to listen to the recordings and was instructed to match the bark to an emotion.

The results were pretty spot on. When presented with a recording of a dog that was provoked to bark in a specific situation, participants were able to identify the emotion that the dog was trying to convey through his bark.

Below are several excerpts from the study:

The alone bark-where a member of Miklósi’s team tied a dog to a tree and walked away.

Here’s what the participants said about the recording:

“That sounds like a dog asking for attention.”
“It’s anxious.”
“It’s sad; distressed.”
“Wants to be let off a chain or something like that.”

The excited bark- Where a team member is getting a dog excited by showing the dog a ball for a game of fetch.

Here’s what the participants said about the recording:

“I think that one’s playful.”
“It seems as though they’re actually asking their owner for something.”
“It sounds as if it may want a ball or a toy or something. She could be playing with it.”

The angry bark-where Miklósi walked up to a house with a guard dog and riles him up.

Here’s what the participants said about the recording:

“That is a sound that she would make if she [my dog] saw somebody behind the fence walking along”
“It’s a stranger. I think it’s a stranger encroaching on her territory.”

“Overall in the study, you could see that people can discriminate six barks, and most of them were quite successful in this,” explains Miklósi who has also been working on a system to determine criteria for analyzing barks. The researcher measures three elements of a dog’s bark which he says is probably also what the judgment of people is based on when asked to describe a bark in terms of it’s emotional content: the frequency of the bark, tonality, and interval between barking sounds.

Studies like this one are not only helping to strengthen the bond between owners and their dogs, but are also suggesting that throughout the process of domestication, dogs have evolved their elaborate vocal repertoire, especially to communicate with us. Not surprisingly, they use many of the same noises we do to communicate their emotions: dog sighs when it is bored, whimpers when it is sad, and unleashes a deep and throaty bark when it is alarmed.

Does your dog have different barks for different moods? Are you able to distinguish when he is sad, wants to be let outside, and feels threatened by an approaching stranger?

Why Does My Dog Look So Sad?

Your relationship with your dog is incredibly special. Your pet brings you joy, comfort and companionship and somehow always knows when you’re feeling sad or sick. As a loving dog parent, you want to bring that same intuition, safety and comfort to your beloved pet. That’s why it’s so heart-wrenching when your dog looks up at you, wide-eyed, with their head between their paws.

Why do dogs look sad?

Many people find themselves debating whether it’s a perception, evolution, or whether a dog is actually sad. Desperate to bring joy into your dog’s life, you may grow concerned that there are health issues at stake, or that this is an emotional response to a change in your home.

More importantly, you might be wondering if their sad look could it be a health issue or is it just an emotional response? Read on to dig into some answers.

Why Do Dogs Look Sad?

Researchers have sought to understand what causes dogs to make the sad puppy eyes they’re known for. A study published by Scientific Reports found that dogs alter their facial expressions in response to human attention. Researchers observed 24 family dogs of various ages and breeds and their reactions to four different scenarios: human attention with food, human attention without food, no human attention with food and no human attention without food. While food didn’t impact the dogs’ expressions, the researchers found that the dogs were more expressive when a human faced them. In these situations, dogs were more likely to raise the inner eyebrow, making them look sad and more childlike.

Additional research published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences dug deeper into what causes dogs’ different facial expressions. The authors of the study hypothesized that over their 33,000-year evolution from wolves to the lovable pets they are today, dogs developed strong eyebrow muscles that allow them to make sad puppy eyes. This, the study’s authors claim, was in response to humans’ preference for the trait.

So if you’re wondering why your dog looks sad it may bring you some comfort to learn that the sad, longing look in your dog’s eyes may not be sadness at all. It may simply be that they’re trying to connect with you or get your attention.

A sad brown and white dog with turquoise eyes looks up.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Depressed?

All this said, dog depression is a real thing. Signs of depression in dogs are similar to signs of depression in humans. Depressed dogs may exhibit:

  • A decreased appetite
  • Excessive licking, especially of the paws
  • Disinterest or loss of interest in walks, playtime and/or other formerly loved pastimes
  • Poor sleep or disturbance in sleep patterns
  • Excessive clinginess to you or another family member
  • Sudden destructive behaviors
  • Accidents inside the home

Signs like these may indicate that your dog is in pain, experiencing a health issue or experiencing deep sadness. If you notice any of these signs for a prolonged period of time, contact your veterinarian. They can help you determine whether your dog is experiencing physical pain or illness and help find solutions to get you dog back to their happy selves.

Believe it or not, dogs do feel emotional pain, including grief, says the American Kennel Club. They can even pick up on people’s sadness, which means their sadness may be a reflection of your emotions or those of another family member. Pay close attention to this. If your pet is picking up on your sadness, it’s possible that some self-care could be in order. To ensure you’re taking the best possible care of your pet, you must also take care of yourself.

Dogs can also feel depressed for other reasons, such as the loss of another household pet or a family member or a major change in their home or living situation. If you’ve recently taken on a new responsibility and have less time to play with them, it’s possible they could be feeling ignored. They may even be coping with feelings of jealousy if, for example, a new human or pet has entered the family. Or they may simply be bored.

Why Does My Dog Look So Sad?

Your dog’s big puppy eyes might sometimes prompt you to ask why they look so sad, but researchers seem to believe that the classic sad dog look has more to do with evolution, communication and connection than with a dog’s emotional health.

Depression in dogs, on the other hand, tends to be more subtle. Stay attuned to any prolonged changes in behavior and consider potential reasons your dog may not be feeling as happy as usual.

One of the most important factors in your dog’s emotional health is the bond between the two of you. Find things you and your pet love to do and make time for them each day. By allowing ample time for play, exercise and petting sessions, you can ensure you’re doing everything possible to keep your dog happy. For more insight into dog depression, consult your veterinarian or a dog behavioral expert — learn more about what a veterinary behaviorist is.

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila

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