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Is My Doberman Depressed? 5 Signs To Know & What To Do

Could your Doberman be depressed? Well, it is possible, considering that canine depression is a very real thing.

After analyzing studies and spending many hours in Doberman groups and forums, I’ve put together this article that will help you identify Dobie depression and explain what you can about it.


Can Dobermans Be Depressed?

What is depression in dogs? and can a Doberman actually be depressed? It turns out that dogs can become depressed in a very similar way to how humans can become depressed. It’s a real thing.

Many universities have studied for a long time how incredibly advanced a dog’s brain is, particularly when it comes to understanding emotions. Many studies reveal that dogs are capable of developing deep and complex emotions as we do.

It has been agreed upon among researchers that dogs can clearly feel happiness, jealousy, anger, and depression.

Another interesting point to make is that due to the similarities of these emotions between dogs and humans, many of the same behaviors are exhibited when the feelings of these emotions are present. This allows us to note some signs.

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5 Signs Your Doberman Could Be Depressed

Let’s run through 5 of the most common signs of canine depression.

I want to mention here, that many of the following signs could also indicate health issues, unrelated to depression.

Everything needs to be taken into context, and always rule out health issues with your veterinarian if you’re unsure.

1. Lack of Interest and Withdrawn

If your Dobie doesn’t seem to care about things as he once did it’s certainly one of the first indicators of depression.

Things like playtime, interacting with you, not responding to your best “good boy!” voice, or even when he finds out it’s time for his daily trip to the park. Classic moments that any dog would usually love, just aren’t raising any interest or arousal.

Lack of interest could be seen as lethargy, laziness, or just appearing “under the weather”. Perhaps your Doberman lays in his bed all day with no enthusiasm or desire to do anything.

2. Sleeping Habits Change

A change in sleeping habits is another common sign of depression, according to John Ciribassi, DVM, American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

If your Doberman is sleeping more, at different times, or even completely throughout the day, this could all be a sign of depression.

This links together easily with having a lack of interest, being withdrawn from situations, and simply laying in his bed all day, unmotivated to do anything.

3. Eatings Habits Change

Another sign would be eating habits. When we suffer from depression, our appetite and desire to eat change dramatically.

Whether it’s because we don’t feel like eating, or that we just don’t care about eating, the same applies to dogs too.

Again, it must be said that a change in appetite is also a common symptom of a wide range of health issues, so that must never be overlooked.

Taking these signs into context is very important. And you may very well see all of these symptoms of depression happen together at the same time, or in a particular order.

4. Hiding and Avoiding

Another symptom witnessed when dogs develop depression is hiding and avoiding. Hiding in places they typically wouldn’t be, as to avoid being out in the open.

This could be something like your Dobie going upstairs into a particular bedroom to lay down in the corner, or by the bed. Avoiding the main living area where the household usually resides.

With this symptom it’s important to know that when he actively avoids you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are the cause (although it could do), it’s typically just a reaction to his overall emotions and feelings.

5. Excessive Paw Licking

This symptom is the least acknowledged or discussed, but excessive paw licking or chewing can indicate depression when other behavioral factors are ruled out.

Excessive licking and light nibbling can be seen as a very pacifying behavior. According to experts, excessive licking of the paws can indicate both stress and depression.

Experts link this behavior with various physiological or psychological issues.

8 Reasons Why Your Doberman May Be Depressed

Many reasons could cause your Doberman to develop depression. Let’s run through them and If any stand out to you, you’ll know where to focus on first and research further.

1. Loss of an Owner or Animal Companion

The two main causes of canine depression are the loss of an owner or an animal companion. This can affect dogs in a similar way to us, and it’s very common for them to go through a grieving period.

As dogs have the ability to form strong emotional bonds with their owners and animal companions, it can be extremely difficult for them to adjust and overcome a loss.

Eventually, this may also mean your Dobie doesn’t receive the same kind of attention he once had from that owner or companion.

Experts have also explained that a negative reaction may also happen as a response to other members of the family going through their own grieving period.

2. A New Baby or Partner

For us, this is typically amazing news, whether you’ve just had a new baby, or you and your partner have decided to live together. This addition, however, may not be so well-received by your Doberman.

Dog behavioral experts have explained how dogs can often feel less important, or even left out, with the addition of someone new and important in the household.

And to be fair, this is usually the case. Especially with babies as they require so much focus and time.

3. Addition of Another Pet

Very similar to the above, the addition of a new pet is another common cause of canine depression.

Dobermans can be territorial and very jealous, which only adds to the difficulty of your new divided attention. Your Dobie once received all of the attention, and now he may feel less important or left out.

Although this usually changes over time with a careful conscious effort to make the two get along. Until then, it may be a bumpy ride!

4. Reacting To Someone Else’s Feelings

It’s important to remember that our own emotions and feelings can be easily sensed by our dogs and it can have a significant impact on the way they feel too.

If someone else in your household is feeling down, depressed, or even ill, it could reflect in your Doberman. Dobies, and all breeds, are very sensitive to how we feel, and they will often mimic how we are.

It may not be yourself, but if anyone else in your household is feeling down, sad, dealing with depression themselves or ill, it could be the cause for your Dobie to feel down too.

5. Being Left Alone Too Often

Many dogs, particularly Dobermans, hate being left alone. Dobies are a breed that craves having human company, pretty much at all times.

And even if your Dobie has another canine companion, it doesn’t solve the issue.

If you and your family members leave the house every day for hours on end, for their work, school, college or to run errands, it can take its toll on your Dobie.

All Dobermans have their own tolerance of how long they can spend alone, but for most, 1-3 hours is the maximum. 3 hours for us, isn’t very long to be out of the house, but for your Dobie to be left alone, it certainly is.

This is a very big issue among dogs nowadays, as work hours increase, we as a nation are spending less time indoors.

6. Not Receiving Enough Exercise

As I’m sure you are aware, Dobermans are a breed that needs a lot of exercise. 1-2 hours is a standard amount with many healthy adult Dobies needing 2 or more.

For high-energy breeds like Dobermans, exercise is fundamental to their overall health not just physically but mentally too.

Without this release of energy, it literally gets pent up, as it would with us. This can affect them in many negative ways. Increased stress, anxiety, and depression are certainly a few of them.

7. Punitive Training

Considered one of the best guard dog breeds in the world, Dobies MUST be trained in order to be a safe dog for your family, as well as other people.

Thankfully, practically all owners who plan on getting a Doberman, already know these kinds of details. But unfortunately, training methods vary.

There’s a big difference between positive training and punitive training. Punitive training is where the dog gets punished when they do something incorrectly. Simply put, this is a recipe for disaster.

Punitive training can cause your Dobie to become fearful, scared, and incredibly anxious. It has numerous types of negatives psychological effects and depression is just one of many problems that can happen.

If you want to read more about this topic, check this article out.

8. Lack of Attention & General Needs Not Being Met

This last one comes down to receiving a lack of attention and his basic needs not being met.

Dobies are not an easy breed to own, they require a lot of time, focus, and conscious effort on your part to keep them happy and satisfied.

As they are also a sensitive breed, it may only take one small part of their lifestyle to send them into depression. They may have a great diet, exercise routine, and training schedule, but if they’re left alone for too long or often, that could be enough.

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Is My Doberman Depressed?

To really understand whether your Dobie is depressed or not, you must start observing him very carefully and consider all possibilities.

Focus on the recent happenings and lifestyle changes that may be at the root of the issue. Consider all of the causes outlined above and work out whether any fit your Doberman’s situation.

Perhaps he’s spending too much time alone? Has someone from your household just moved out? Have you just moved homes? And consider whether his basic needs are being met or not.

What You Can Do About It

The first advice I must give is to visit your veterinarian if you see any of the symptoms of depression. As they are very similar to symptoms of underlying health issues, it’s important to rule them out first.

Secondly, you’ll need to think about the causes, and if you can identify and try to make a change directly to the cause. For example, if his exercise routine has changed recently for whatever reason, try your best to bring back to the same level or standard that it was before.

Think of the different areas of his life that are important:

  • Physical exercise (ensure he receives 2 hours per day)
  • Mental exercise (mental stimulation is vitally important too)
  • Training (training gives him a sense of importance and accomplishment)
  • Socializing with new dogs and strangers (extremely important for his overall content and happiness)
  • Diet and nutrition (if he’s not feeling well, his mind won’t feel well either)
  • Your time, attention, and the quality time he gets from you (Dobies crave interaction from their owners)
  • His daily routine (how active is he, does he spend time alone)

Be honest with how well each area of his life is going. Is any area lacking that needs improvement?

Consider your own situation. It could be that a recent change in your life has impacted him. Maybe you have a new job? different working hours, a new partner, or are now giving him less attention for whatever reason.

If your Doberman is depressed, the best way to tackle it is to first identify the cause, consider areas he’s lacking, analyze any changes to his life, and ensure that all of his needs are met and even exceeded.

Fortunately, although experts have said dogs can get depression, they have also said it’s extremely unlikely for dogs to develop long-term depression. This means that it can be overcome once the necessary changes to his life or your life are made.

Thank you for reading! I hope this has answered your questions sufficiently. If you have an additional question, let me know, I may be able to add in a relevant section to help future owners. For now, have a great day with your Dobie. Kind regards, Harry.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.