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Boxer Dog Depression Issues


Can a Boxer dog be depressed?  The answer is yes. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recognizes this as a canine mental illness and its symptoms are much like those experienced by humans. 
Why Does This Happen? There are many reasons why a dog may be depressed. Most common are:
  • A dog loses his owner (or one of their owners)
  • A dog loses his canine playmate
  • Moving to a new home may cause stress and depression for a Boxer dog
  • A dog may act depressed while his owner is away for the day and then bounce back with energy when he is finally greeted at the end of the day. This type of short cycle depression falls under Separation Anxiety.
  • A chemical imbalance may cause a dog to be clinically depressed.


Most owners know right away that their dog is depressed.

Dogs "will not be themselves" and they will not only act down, but also in a lot of cases they will actually look sad with droopy eyes and a loss of expression on the face.

There are 3 basic behavior changes that an owner will notice.  The most common signs are: 
  • A dog may be “mopey”, wanting to just lay around and not want participate in activities playtime or go for walks 
  • A dog may lose their appetite.  
  • They may sleep much more than normal

How to Help

If a Dog Have Lost a Loved One or a Playmate

This is a very difficult situation. A dog may mourn just as a human does. In these cases, time is what cures most cases. If a dog does not show signs of bouncing back and has a severe lack of appetite, medical intervention is necessary. It does not take long for a dog to develop malnutrition or to become dehydrated.

In the beginning stages, it may help a dog to have a piece of clothing or other object that has the scent of the person or canine friend whom they are missing.

In middle stages, introducing your dog to a new playmate usually helps. In the case of an owner no longer being present, the new owner or remaining owner must take extra time out of each day to bring the dog for walks, do interactive activities such as playing hide n’ seek, Frisbee, catch and so forth. Spending time together will help the dog bond with closer with their main caretaker.

In late stages, with no signs of improvement, medication such as Prozac, given in very low doses has been show to improve a dog’s mental health.
Moving to a New Home 

This can be upsetting and stressful to everyone, both human and dog; particularly if the move was forced and not wanted. It helps to try and keep your dog’s items in the same areas. 

For example, if their dog food was always in the far right hand corner of the kitchen, place it in the far right hand corner of the new kitchen. Taking time to walk the dog around the year each day can help give the dog a sense of their property and where they belong. In time, a dog will begin to gain confidence to “protect” their new environment and it is important to know where those boundary lines are.

Spending time together will help, even if your dog is mopey. Introducing new toys, trying to teach new commands or just cuddling together to great a stronger bond will be helpful.
Boxer dog hiding head in pillow
Depression While Owner is Gone for the Day
This is quite common and is known as Separation Anxiety. A dog may become depressed or they may start to have behavioral problems such as barking all day or being destructive.

There are several things that you can do.

Preparing a comfortable, fun area. Dogs that are left alone all day should not be crated, confined to a small area or left to roam an empty home. Gating off 1 room is helpful. In this way, the dog can have all of their “goodies” in the room and spend time going to each spot. You will want to have specific areas for:
  • Food (if they are still young enough to need daytime meals)
  • Water
  • Thick blankets or canine bed to comfortably rest on
  • Lots of dog toys. For this type of Separation Anxiety behavior, interactive dog toys which hold treats inside work best. These types of toys allow you to hide a treat inside and a dog will spend hours trying to release the yummy treat that they smell. On average, most dogs take 1 to 2 hours to figure out how to get the treat out of the toy
  • Have a radio or TV turned on, however do not have this directly in your Boxer dog’s area, as electrical cords present dangers. Be sure to spend a weekend day listening to that radio station or channel, so that you can be sure there are no loud shows that come on or any disturbing noises. Choose a station or channel with soothing, calm voices.

Getting a Playmate for Your Dog's Depression?

Many owners wonder if they should get a 2nd dog as a playmate for a dog who is lonely during the day. This will help a dog. However, this is also a big responsibility for you. You will have double the dog expenses and need to go through the steps of training and so forth.

If you can handle a 2nd dog, studies do show that a dog is happier when with an animal of the same species and breed. For example, a dog will most love to have another Boxer dog, and would not be as happy with a cat brought into the home.

When bringing a 2nd dog into the home as a playmate for your Boxer, it is best understand that dogs will always need to have 1 Alpha dog. This is usually the older dog and usually the one who has been in the home the longest. It stresses dogs if they must figure out on their own who the Alpha Dog is…the struggle can last for years and cause behavioral issues.

You can help by identifying who the Alpha dog will be and training the dogs appropriately.

Much More Information
  • 24 Behavioral Chapters including Multiple Dogs, Odd Behaviors, Compulsive Behavior, & details of all Separation Anxiety Issues
  • 34 Health Issues, all EASY to understand
  • Every topic needed to take awesome care of your Boxer
  • Learn about The GIANT Book of Boxer Care
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