*Discloser: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.
Is my dog bored or depressed? That’s what many dog owner, whose dog lies around a lot, are wondering.
It can really be confusing, you’re always hearing about those hyper dogs but yours is just lying around, right? And he’s looking so sad like that.
But does that really mean your dog is depressed? Or could he maybe just be bored?
I’ll answer all of these questions in this article.
Is my dog bored or depressed?
Alright, let’s get right to it: is your dog bored or depressed?
Well, these 2 kinds of behavior are quite easy to distinguish. In fact, bored and depressed dogs usually show very different signs.
A bored dog will find himself something to do, trust me! It’s very rare that a bored dog just lies around. On the contrary, he’ll probably jump up on you and whine and bark to get your attention to finally have some fun! Or he’ll finds himself something, like digging in your trash or chewing on your chair, so much fun!!
If your dog just seems to be sleeping the whole time, you can almost 100% be sure that he isn’t bored. There are a few lazy kinds out there who are just lying around even when they’re bored. In that case they’ll stare at you though. You’ll literally see that they want to do something!
To learn more about lazy dogs, make sure to check out my article about the 7 possible reasons your dog is lazy.
If your dog isn’t doing much all day, he could be depressed, though. Depressed dogs show a number of different signs and sleeping all the time is one of them.
Why does my dog look so sad?
Do you know the term “bitch resting face”? It refers to some people’s resting face just looking angry or annoyed.
Well, some dogs have a “sad resting face”. Just think about Bullodgs, Basset Hounds or other dogs with a lot of skin “pulling” downwards. It’s virtually impossible for these dogs to look what we consider to be happy. Their appearance is always the same, they can’t smile or cry.
So, you can’t really tell whether your dog is sad just from looking at his face.
Other dogs might look like they’re smiling whenever they’re panting, while they’re actually just super hot…
So, don’t get fooled by your pup’s face. This is probably just what he looks like!
His posture might tell you a bit more about how he feels. Low hanging tail and head are indicators. But this could also mean that he’s scared.
So, overall, don’t rely on your dogs look to find out how he feels.
Why do dogs become depressed?
There are different reasons for dog depression.
The most common one is when he’s lost a beloved friend – dog or human. The loss leaves a hole in your pup’s heart that he might struggle to fill again.
Another very common reason is a change in routine. This can be after a move or after you changed your working hours.
Changes in routine are often very difficult for dogs to get used to and can lead to them being either hyped up or a little depressed. If that’s the reason it should soon go back to normal. Just give him some time.
How do you know if your dog is depressed?
Now that your dog’s look or face aren’t good indicators to find out if he’s depressed, let’s look at what is.
So, let’s look at the 5 most common signs for dog depression:
1. Change in behavior or mood
If your pup has always been the way he’s now, it’s difficult to tell if he’s depressed. In that case look out for other signs.
However, if you’ve noticed that your dog has changed lately and is much less interested in walks and playing than usually, this could be an indicator.
Look out for generally less energy and enthusiasm in your dog.
However, it could also have other reasons due to age or another illness. If the behavior change stays for a longer period, you should go and check it with your vet.
2. Loss of appetite
Has your dog recently eaten a lot less than usual?
That could mean a lot of things but it generally signals some kind of problem.
In case your dog’s loss of appetite is accompanied by his behavior change, it’s possible that he’s depressed.
3. Paw licking
Licking and chewing is calming for dogs. This is why depressed dogs often extensively lick and bite their paws as a way to soothe themselves.
However, this behavior can also be a sign of boredom. So, you have to look at it in context with the rest of his behavior.
4. Sleeping all the time
As I’ve mentioned before, another sign for dog depression could be that he’s sleeping all the time.
This is only an issue if it has changed recently. Dogs generally sleep a lot (we’ll get to that in a minute), so it could also be completely normal behavior.
Depressed dogs will often hide. If the hiding has also come up recently and is accompanied by some of the other signs, it’s very likely that your furry friend is suffering from dog depression.
Please be aware that all of these behaviors can also be signs for other issues. Only if your dog shows a combination of them, it’s possible that he’s depressed.
In any case it’s a good idea to talk to your vet, especially if the behavior stays over a longer period.
How do I make my depressed dog happy?
There are a few ways to help your depressed dog.
Most important, stay positive yourself! Your dog reflects your mood, so if you’re happy, it’s much easier for your dog to be happy, too.
Also, spend as much time with him as possible. This doesn’t need to be super active, snuggles on the couch are perfect. Just be there for him!
What’s also very helpful is socializing. Especially after losing a furry friend, engaging with other dogs can be highly beneficial for a depressed dog.
Otherwise, just try something new. Walk new routes, let him sniff as much as he wants, get him a new toy and so on. Try a couple of things and see what works.
Here are some more ideas.
My dog is bored what can I do?
Now to the next part of this post: dog boredom.
I’ve actually written a whole other article dedicated to the question “my dog is bored what can I do?“, in case you want to go deeper.
As I’ve mentioned before, a depressed and a bored dog look very different.
However, some dogs do in fact just lay there even when they’re bored. It’s very rare but possible. If that’s the case, he’ll most likely stare intensively at you.
Whenever your dog is bored he’s waiting for some kind of action. So, even if he’s just lying there, he’s awake and attentive.
If you’re sure that your pup is bored, it’s pretty easy to change that: he’ll need more exercise. But not only physical, mostly also mental.
But before we’re looking at that it’s a good idea to figure out why your dog is actually bored.
Why is my dog bored?
Let’s first try to figure out why your dog is bored.
The most common reason is that he doesn’t get any or very little mental stimulation.
Think about what kind of activities your dog gets. Does that involve any kind of brain training or sniffing? If not, then you’ve found the reason for your dog’s boredom!
However, it could also be that your pupper is just a very high energy dog and needs more exercise than other dogs.
My dog Baloo is that kind. He was super hyper in the beginning. After a while, I finally figured out how much activity and how much rest he needs.
If you want to learn my proven process for a calm dog, make sure to get my free dog guide here.
Of course, every dog needs physical exercise. The amount that makes your dog happy and relaxed is different for every dog, though.
I generally recommend to take 3 walks a day, The duration of these may vary. What’s worked very well for Baloo and me are 2x 30-minute leash walks and 1x 1-hour off-leash walk per day. Sometimes it’s only 3 times 30 minutes and sometimes we’re hiking for a full day. But generally, we’re going for the 2 shorter and one longer walk version.
Try out different durations. But please don’t go less than 3x 15 minutes per day. Less than that just isn’t healthy for any dog!
Now let’s look at mental exercise.
As I’ve just mentioned, a lack of that is the main reason for dog boredom.
Mental stimulation can come in different forms. It can be learning new tricks, solving food puzzles or sniffing games. I’ve written a whole article about how to mentally stimulate your dog.
For some inspiration, check out my article about 21 fun things you can do with your dog at home.
Is my dog bored or tired?
I’ve covered this topic in detail in this post.
Here’s just a quick summary.
How do you know if your dog is bored or tired?
The answer to this question is similar to the question “is my dog bored or depressed”. A bored day won’t sleep during the whole day! He just won’t!
If your pup is snoozing for most of the day but is happily joining you for walks and playtime, then he’s most likely just tired. And a tired dog is a happy and well-behaved dog, so enjoy those moments!
How much do dogs sleep?
Dogs sleep a lot!
An average dog should sleep around 18 hours per day (24 hours). By sleeping I also mean relaxing, just not actively doing anything. The time where they are actually in deep sleep is about 12 to 14 hours per day.
This may sound like a lot but if you think about it, it means that your dog would be ready to have some sort of activity for 6 hours per day! For most dog owners it’s impossible to provide this much activity for their dog. So, if there is only something interesting going on for, say, 4 hours per day, your dog can relax during the remaining 2 hours where he would be ready to be active.
Sleeping is kind of a default manner of dogs if they don’t have anything to do. If your dog gets at least 4 hours of activity each day and sometimes a bit more, like on the occasional camping or hiking trip, he should be fine.
Activities can be walks, playtime, eating/drinking, sniffing, exploring, chewing his bone, etc. Anything, where he is not just lying around. The amount of sleep a dog needs also depends on the activity he’s getting during his waking hours. Sniffing is much more tiring than just walking. New areas involve new smells and are therefore much more intense than known territory.
Puppies will need even more sleep, 20+ hours are completely normal.
If you want to learn more about this topic, make sure to check out my article on the question: how many hours a day should a dog sleep?
Is it normal that my dog is lying around all day?
As I’ve just mentioned, sleeping is kind of a default manner for dogs.
So, yes, it’s completely normal for dogs to lie around all day. 4 to 6 hours of active time is completely enough, they’re happy to relax for the remaining 18 to 20 hours.
The question “is my dog bored or depressed” can be answered quite easily: bored dogs will find themselves something to do, while depressed dogs suddenly change their behavior to being very passive.
Depressed dogs will often show the following signs:
- Change in behavior or mood
- Loss of appetite
- Paw licking
- Sleeping all the time
If your dog is depressed, the best way to help him is to simply be there for him and to make sure he gets lots of social time.
In case your pup is bored, the solution is easy: provide more exercise! Not only physical, but also mental exercise.