The puppy blues: why new pet parents need a Doggy Doula

10 January 2023 - 5 min read
Illustration of a puppy looking up

Have you experienced the ‘puppy blues’? The mix of emotions that you might not have been expecting when you became a pet parent to a puppy.

Taking care of a new pup can be a full-on challenge. Experts often talk about dog training, the health of the pet and how it will react to its new home but the psychological struggles of owners are rarely openly talked about.

We spoke to pet owners to learn more, and our research revealed that over a third admitted to experiencing puppy blues during the first few weeks of getting a puppy. That’s the combination of joy, expectation, anxiety and regret jumbled up together.

Almost all of them (over 91%) who experienced puppy blues said they would have benefited from receiving advice from an expert on how to cope with these negative feelings.

It’s why we’re introducing the UK’s first Doggy Doula Dr Scott Miller for the start of 2023! Many people begin the year with a new pet and at ManyPets we want to be there to help the pet parent as well as the puppy.

In his role as Doggy Doula, Dr Miller will be helping pet parents feel calmer, more confident and zen like in their new parent role. We have a limited number of slots available where you can speak to him directly if you need support. Book your doula call here.

Dr Miller was born to British parents in Brisbane, Australia. After training in Queensland and working firstly as a vet in Sydney, he moved to the UK and launched a practice in East London. Today he’s a familiar face on TV appearing on various shows that include ITV’s This Morning where he gives pet care tips and advice.

You can read Dr Scott's Doula tips and advice here and get more guidance on caring for a puppy here.

What is a Doggy Doula?

Doulas are best known for providing emotional support to women during and after childbirth. The word ‘doula’ has Greek origins, but now refers to a person providing companionship and support.

A new puppy is life changing and is similar to having a new baby, almost a third of puppy owners said their life had changed more than they had expected when they first got a puppy.

A pet doula can help navigate those first few weeks and months of pet parenthood - helping new owners deal with the emotional ups and downs they may experience.

It can be hard for new puppy parents to admit to feelings of being stressed and overburdened. Revealing their thoughts to family and friends is something many owners struggle with as they’re worried that people will judge them.

One pet owner said:

“I have to admit that, whilst I'm quite an open person, I found it quite hard to talk to friends and family about the emotional side of being a dog mum.”

What are the puppy blues?

Becoming new puppy parent can trigger a mix of feelings and emotions. Alongside joy, excitement and anticipation, the puppy blues can include feelings of regret, frustration, and confusion about the puppy.

It doesn’t matter how much research and preparation someone does beforehand - the reality is that owning a dog can be hard work, especially during the first few weeks and months.

The most common causes people gave for experiencing the ‘puppy blues’ were:

  • The damage their pet has made to their house (43%)

  • Their pet’s behaviour (42%)

  • The overwhelming responsibility (38%)

  • The change of routine (36%)

  • The change in their lifestyle (34%)

  • The lack of sleep (33%)

  • The financial implications of pet ownership (32%)

A puppy is similar to a baby and they’re learning how to understand their home and their surroundings. Naughty or difficult behaviour is not something they do deliberately.

Toilet accidents, chewing furniture, training problems and not sleeping properly are typical causes of stress and anxiety. This behaviour will often lead to puppy parents asking themselves:

“What have I done? Have I made a massive mistake in getting this puppy?”

Feelings of guilt or regret are common and it’s easy for some owners to believe they’re not being the pet parent they thought or wanted to be.

One emotional owner revealed:

“I was supposed to be overjoyed with love for this adorable fuzzball but I felt so guilty at all the crying at night, the zoomies, refusing to nap during the day, tearing my hand to shreds. It all left me exhausted and longing for my old life.”

Feeling anxious and overwhelmed

Our research found that feeling down, stressed and anxious, were some of the most common emotions felt by new pet owners. The first three to four weeks were the most difficult and on average this was when most owners reported feeling the puppy blues.

Anxiety levels tend to increase with pet parents worrying about making mistakes and experiencing feelings of not being good enough. It’s natural in the early part of a pup’s life to worry about all sorts of things.

Even for people who have grown up with dogs, it can be easy to forget just how challenging raising a puppy can be. And for pet parents who have already raised children, they may feel like they’re repeating the process all over again.

Puppy blues can affect relationships with partners and other family members. Over half of dog parents (52%) admitted that getting a puppy caused a rift with their partner or family members.

In these circumstances, it’s not surprising that some owners consider rehousing their puppy which can also add to further feelings of guilt.

Puppy with heart balloon illustration

Thankfully the puppy blues don’t last forever. Most negative feelings often disappear within a few weeks as each puppy begins to learn and develop. The majority of dog owners (86%) revealed they quickly grow to love their dogs unconditionally.

What’s clear from the research is that the puppy blues is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s normal and lots of new pet parents share the same frustrations and anxieties. Having someone to talk to and knowing that other owners have experienced the same feelings are a great comfort.

Pet parents can book doula sessions with Dr Scott Miller if they have any worries. As a doggy doula he’s the perfect person to speak to - using all his experience and expertise as a veterinarian to help support the emotional needs during the stressful, magical, and maddening whirlwind that is bringing home a brand-new puppy.

Book your doula session with Dr Scott Miller.

Rodney Dennis
Content marketing executive

Rodney joined ManyPets in 2018 to specialise in pet health and insurance content. He previously worked in the Financial Services sector writing articles, blogs and thought leadership papers on banking regulation and financial technology.