Walker et al, Owners’ Perceptions of Their Animal’s Behavioural Response to the Loss of an Animal Companion, Animals, 2016. There are countless reasons why dogs are considered to be man’s best friend. If your dog has lost a companion recently, you might have noticed some changes in their behavior too. According to Holly Willetts, a dog trainer and rehabilitation specialist, dogs can definitely smell and understand the difference between a living person and a dead one. When a dog recognizes that its owner has died, the results aren’t always touching. In my experience, this isn’t necessarily so. While some dogs, like Scooter, show physical symptoms of grief, others may only display behavioral changes. Lots of dogs also live in pairs with another dog, and even form unlikely bonds with cats and other animals – from elephants to guinea pigs! That being said, there’s no harm in reigniting their enthusiasm for life by reminding them of the thing they love. Share a few contact details to get your FREE e-book, https://www.akc.org/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php. And some even look like they’re trying to tell us they’re sad – like crying. But it is widely accepted that dogs’ behavior often changes when they lose a person or animal they were close to. Over the counter collars and diffusers containing dog appeasing pheromone (such as Adaptil) can help manage the anxiety felt by bereaved dogs. Dogs and cats form emotional bonds with their people, and if a caregiver suddenly disappears from their life, they notice the absence. Another example like this would be allowing a grieving dog into your bed at night. Psychology Today, 2016. Download this e-book to find out. Dogs are ‘easy-to-read’ animals and if they are feeling something then you will be able to tell. Ultimately, there’s a lot we don’t know about whether dogs really feel things in the same way we do. Stories like this capture our imagination, but a much larger proportion of dogs eventually move on with their remaining family members, or in a new family. When one dog in a two-dog household is gravely ill, it may help for the healthier dog to be present during euthanasia, or at least for the animal to see the deceased dog’s body, says Dr. Pachel. If your instinct tells you that their behavior or demeanor has changed since they lost a companion, then trust that. Most dogs recover from grief in their own time. Signs to be aware of include: Jme Thomas, executive director at Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, explains that dogs need to figure things out on their own and work through feelings when experiencing loss or grief. Routine and predictability is hugely reassuring for bereaved dogs. And whilst that evidence is based upon gathering anecdotes at the moment, some researchers have expressed hope that it will spur on the search for more tangible neurological evidence. But sadly bereavement is as unavoidable for dogs as it is for people. It's well-known that dogs form strong emotional bonds with members of their human family, and often suffer griefwhen a loved one dies or moves away. On April 9th 2018, my husband received word that he had stage four non small cell carcinoma (brain, liver and lung). Or they have tried doing it both ways in the past, and didn’t notice any difference. Dogs alter their behavior when they mourn much like people do: They may become depressed and listless. Sorrow over the death of a companion is a natural emotion for anyone, even dogs. 8. So in this article we’re answering lots of questions about dog grief, and also looking at how to help a grieving dog recover. While we can’t say for sure whether the feelings a dog has when experiencing an emotional loss mirror that of a human’s, Dr. Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado Boulder, says there is now solid evidence from brain imaging studies that similar areas of dogs’ brains light up when they’re feeling parallel emotions to those of humans. How Does a Dog Win a Dog Show? If their owner is grieving, the change in their behaviour and their normal routine can also have an impact," Lisa Hens, RSPCA dog welfare expert tells Country Living. Try to make sure they eat enough and drink enough every day, continue going out to the toilet as usual, and get as much of their usual exercise as they can be tempted into. Time, as they say, is the greatest healer. All rights reserved. Without his owner there to do these favorite activities with, he may feel uninterested. Grief is unique to the individual experiencing it, so there’s no rule for how long it lasts, or when you can expect it to be over. The death of a littermate can be difficult to handle, particularly when the dogs have lived together for years. What looks to us like grief may simply be the surviving dog responding to the absence of its companion's presence. When an owner or fellow housemate passes away, dogs show signs that could be interpreted as grief. They may have a decreased appetite and decline to play. While it isn’t totally known if dogs can feel and understand grief, there are several moments that would make you think that they do. And how long do dogs grieve for their owners or other pets? Recognizing the signs of grief can help you assist your dog in adjusting to the loss of a loved one and enjoy life again. Some want to be … There are some ways of speeding the adjustment process along, but more than anything else, your dog just needs you to be there for them, and keep providing the security of your care. On the other hand, don’t be alarmed if your dog doesn’t appear to grieve for another dog at all. Make your own decision about what’s right for you and your dog, and don’t let other people worry you with their opinions of what they think you “should” do. At the first sign of decline in physical or emotional health, consult a veterinarian to ensure the symptoms of grief aren’t masking those of another illness. They offer love, loyalty, and companionship, and anyone who has ever formed a special bond with a dog can attest to the symbiotic relationship between humans and canines. If a canine is scared, apprehensive, excited or even sleepy, then their body language and behaviour will act as a signifier. Gentle Distraction If your dog is grieving, you should provide him with more attention, affection and activity. Perhaps you’ve found us because you’re worried that they’re grieving at the moment. Some of the changes – such as a drop in energy and enthusiasm – look a lot like sadness. How to Recognize a Grieving Pet Individual dogs and cats react to loss in different ways. Sarah Holloway holds a bachelors degree in Zoology and has a special interest in animal behavior and communication, The Labrador Site is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, Animal Emotions: Exploring Passionate Natures: Current interdisciplinary research provides compelling evidence that many animals experience such emotions as joy, fear, love, despair, and grief, Separation anxiety syndrome in dogs and cats, Owners’ Perceptions of Their Animal’s Behavioural Response to the Loss of an Animal Companion. Following acute loss of a closely bonded owner, dogs can suffer the pangs of separation anxiety or depression just as people do.