When the temperature drops, so can the human mood. Some people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). We all know at least one person who has difficulty during dark, cold winter evenings. The question is, do dogs experience the same issues as their human companions?

Behavioral Changes Observed in Dogs During Winter

Pet owners who responded to a Daily Mail survey in the U.K. indicated they noticed changes in how pets behave in winter. Some of the behavioral changes they observed include the following:

  • Barking more frequently
  • Increased aggressive and destructive behaviors
  • Decreased playfulness
  • Additional time sleeping
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Shedding or losing fur more

The survey was only submitted in the UK and measured how owners perceive their pets. There isn’t enough scientific data to indicate that pets experience SAD.

Possible Explanations for Symptoms of SAD in Dogs

Dogs who seem to have symptoms of SAD may be reflecting the behavior they perceive in their owner. Dogs often mirror the mood and behavior of their owners. Dogs are very wise, and they can mirror the behaviors they notice in their owner.

Dogs can notice the change from an active lifestyle to a sedentary one. As a result, the animal begins to act more sedentary too. The dog may stay right at the owners’ side, and owners may find their dog mimicking whatever they are doing.

The winter months make it harder for dogs to get outside, run, and play. Being inside all the time may cause the dog to get bored. Dogs are happiest when they have physical activities to keep them moving, playing, and smelling all the aromas around them. When the animals can’t get outside to run and move, their boredom can make them seem depressed.

Helping Your Dog Through the Winter Blahs

Even though there isn’t research proving dogs suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are some ways you can help lift their mood during the winter.

  1. Don’t hibernate. The urge in winter is to hide away in the warmth. Instead, you should get outside as much as possible in the sunlight to alleviate low moods.
  2. Expose your dog and yourself to light as much as you possibly can. Put your pup’s bed near the window for added natural light. Get outside and walk during the brightest part of each day. You can also consider the addition of a light box in your home.
  3. Create a safe and interactive space for your dog in your home. Purchase dog toys and use them. Get down and play with your dogs. This will stimulate their mind and strengthen your bond with them.

Final Thoughts

Dogs, like humans, often seem down in winter. While there isn’t definitive evidence that the animals suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, they mimic the mood of their owners. You can create an environment that keeps your dog (and you) happier in winter if you take the time to make a few changes to your routine. Contact Dog Training Now Charleston to learn more!

Dog Training Now Charleston

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