Grieving is a subject that we have touched upon before in our content here at Animal Friends Insurance. The loss of a pet is devastating and can be a hard blow for humans to take, but what about dogs? Do they grieve when an owner or fellow dog passes away?
Dogs are ‘easy-to-read’ animals and if they are feeling something then you will be able to tell. If a canine is scared, apprehensive, excited or even sleepy, then their body language and behaviour will act as a signifier. Should a dog’s companion or human family member/owner suddenly disappear, then they will know that the person/dog in question has gone and will show signs of grief.
The signs that a dog is grieving will differ for each individual canine but common signs to look out for include lethargy, a lack of interest in having a walk or playtime, less vocalising and interaction, a loss of appetite and sleeping lots more than normal.
If a dog is part of a family and a member of that family dies, then they will feel the loss of that person via the emotions and changed behaviour patterns of the humans that are left behind to deal with the loss. However, if a dog is owned by just one person then they will feel the sudden absence of their, often life-long, companion even more so.
The human-dog bond is extremely strong and when a dog loses his/her owner their ingrained routines become disrupted, they can become depressed and often act in a state of confusion, desperately trying to find their owner. There are countless tales of how loyal dogs have stayed by their owner’s side after they have died. A famous example being that of Hachi who used to meet his owner after work at the train station every day and continued to wait at the station at the same time every day, even after his owner had passed away.
Adoption centres take in many dogs that have no home due to their sole owner passing away. It can be wise for a single owner to have a plan for their dog should the worst happen; ideally entrusting the dog to someone he/she already knows can be of some comfort to the canine. If you are taking a dog in after their owner has passed away then there a few things you can do to help them.
Be sure to take things slowly as the dog will be grieving the loss of both their owner and their home; if possible try and stick to the dog’s routine so that they do not feel too out of place or confused in their new home. Use lots of praise and positive reinforcement to reassure them everything is okay and take time out of your day to really focus on them and hopefully, start to create a bond between you both.
When a dog belonging to a multi-pet household passes away, the dog that is left behind will grieve heavily. They will have lost a constant companion and a strong bond; this will affect their daily routine causing them distress.
To help a dog that has lost a friend the best thing to do is try and stick to their normal routine whilst reassuring and comforting them. Sometimes keeping items that belonged to the deceased dog can help with this as their scent will still be present giving the grieving dog comfort. If you decide to bring a new dog into the household then give the grieving dog time to adjust to life without their old companion before doing so.