Helping A Dog Who Has Lost A Friend
11th April 2018
It is important for dog owners to understand that dogs actually grieve the loss of other dogs. The grief occurs to varying degrees, depending on the bonds built over time together.
Some dogs will actually refuse to eat. Some suffer more dramatically and even try to escape, seemingly going in search for their lost friends. Some dogs seem to actually understand what has happened, and they can become more needy than usual. They may follow you from room to room or demand your attention and affection more.
However, your dog reacts, these tips can help you and your dog get through the difficult loss of a loved one together.
When possible, try to prepare your dog for the future loss of his friend.
You can try to ease the transition by spending extra time alone with the dog who will be left alone when the other dog pass on. You might do this by participating in activities he or she enjoys, such as walking and playing. Your sick or ageing dog will likely enjoy the peace and rest he would get during the time you spend with the other dog. If you make the very difficult decision to euthanise your dog, you may want to consider allowing your other dog to be there when it happens. This may actually speed up the process of grieving.
Don’t stop playing games and taking walks with your remaining dog.
Regardless of the form of grief your dog is experiencing, it is very important that you spend time with him to help him cope with his loss. Walks can be very helpful. Also, try not to leave your dog alone too often. Exercise and fresh air can be of benefit both to grieving humans and grieving dogs. Initiate play or try interactive toys with treats inside. Of course you will be grieving too. However, keep your spirits up as best you can because your dog needs you now as much as ever.
Maintain a normal routine so your dog knows you are still his leader.
Some dog owners may change their behaviours in situations such as these. They may stop taking their remaining dog for walks or stop behaving like a leader. When that happens, the dog’s entire routine is changed, and that is very stressful for dogs. It adds to his loss and makes his problems even worse. It is very important that your leadership remains constant. Dogs that lose friends often suffer more from what their owners fail to do. If you stop demonstrating consistent leadership, your dog has then also lost his leader. When you remain calm and consistent and continue to provide clear direction, your dog will feel comfortable and secure in the stable environment that you are maintaining in the home.
Do not rush to get another dog.
Consider things carefully before bringing another dog into your home. This is often counter productive. Your remaining dog may not bond with the new one if he hasn’t finished grieving. Broken hearts, whether human or canine, are not easy to mend, so be patient.
Never forget that your dog needs your understanding and your love. Be supportive and be patient, and your dog will return to being his fun-loving self.