Losing a pet is one thing that no pet parent will ever want to face. Coming to agree with the fact that your closest furry friend is gone forever is such a disturbing feeling.
No more afternoon walks, morning runs, play, and many more with who felt your closest friend! When death strikes, there really isn’t much you can do, except to reminisce about the moments you had shared with your lovely canine.
That’s what happens when you lose your pooch. But have you ever wondered what happens when things go the other way? Do dogs mourn for lost owners or other pets?
Well, since dogs are social beings like humans, they mourn when they lose a cherished partner, whether a human or a fellow pet. However, they don’t mourn the same way humans do.
How do dogs come to learn about the demise?
Dogs hardly understand the human language. Actually, the far they can go to understanding the human language is responding to the cues. But before they even get there, you will need to invest some good amount of time in training. So, how do they come to learn about the demise of their close friend?
Well, if they witnessed their loved one die, some dogs are intelligent enough to understand that the deceased isn’t going to come back. But how about when not around during the time of death?
Some things will send a signal to your dog about the passing away of a member of the family. For instance, if the dog used to spend a lot of time with the deceased, the sudden disappearance of their partner, and the disruption of their daily routine can send the message.
Another way your dog can learn about the demise is by reading your face. When happy, your dog will know. That’s also what happens when you are grieving. Your pooch will read the emotions on your face and know that something is not well. They will then link your emotions to the sudden disappearance of one of the members of the family they haven’t seen for a while.
Signs that your dog is mourning
Humans respond to the sense of loss differently. Shock, bitterness, depression, increased irritability, and inability to experience joy are some of the common emotional symptoms of grief in humans. In the same way, your dog may show some signs when grieving. Here are some of the things you might notice in your dog.
- Lack of appetite
- Lethargy and depression.
- Loss of interest in play
- Sluggish response to humans or other pets.
- Reduced water intake
- Declined weight.
- Accidents in the house.
However, like with humans, dogs don’t respond the same way to death. In fact, what you may see in your dog may be the exact opposite of what we’ve listed above. You may also fail to note any changes in the behavior of your dog, but that doesn’t mean that he/she isn’t mourning the deceased.
The above indicators, however, may not always symbolize grieving. Most of the illnesses in pets manifest using most of the above signs. Once you note any behavioral change in your dog, the wisest thing to do is get to the vet as soon as you can.
The vet will perform tests to see if the symptoms are a result of any medical condition. If there isn’t any illness, you can now conclude that the signs are caused by grieving for the lost loved one.
How you can help your dog in mourning?
Dogs are very loyal beings that love to spend much of the time around the companions they love. That’s why they are among the hard-hit by news about the death of their close friend. If the death is of a person, it may be a difficult time for both of you.
However, things are tougher at your dog’s end when the loss is of a fellow pet who happened to be their close friend. So, what can you do to help your four-pawed friend get through this difficult time of their life? The ideas we’re sharing below might help.
It’s time to spend more time with your canine
Where the two were spending most of the time together, losing the other pet might leave your surviving dog bored and anxious. Life may lose meaning for a while for him. It’s up to you to fit in the shoes of your dead pet to give it meaning.
You have to ensure that reduce the extent to which your surviving canine feels the void left by the other pet. Ensure that you give your pet more attention than before. Special outings and letting him sleep on the same bed with you will cushion your dog’s sense of loss.
Provide more physical and mental stimulation
Leaving your dog to spend time all alone may make things harder for him. You should come with a way of keeping their minds and bodies active. Have your dog join you for a simple walk or run. Where the outside conditions are not supportive, say it’s raining or hot and sunny, invent a play. Make the game as much interesting as possible.
Most dogs will welcome games like tug-of-war and fetch. If your dog seems to like the game, play for as much time as you can. It will help them forget about the loss and focus on the game. Where you don’t have enough time, toys may help. The old toys may not do the trick at such a time. Get your dog plenty of new toys. They need to be very attractive and engaging.
Stick to your dog’s routine
Apart from the death, the disruption of your dog’s routine may cause behavioral changes in your dog. That’s why it’s wise to stick to your dog’s routine even during the difficult time.
Maintaining your dog’s routine is one way of telling them that life has to continue even with the passing away of the other pet. Sticking to your dog’s routine will also keep them busy, letting them forget for a moment about the loss of their cherished friend.
Reinforce the good behavior
Some dogs will vocalize or howl as a way of mourning their beloved. While it’s something that may get irritating, try as much as possible to ignore the behavior.
Don’t make the mistake of giving your dog a treat as a way of quieting him. Your dog will interpret it as a reward for what they are doing and will exacerbate the negative behavior.
Also, don’t make the mistake of distracting your dog as a way of breaking the howling cycle. Dogs treat attention as a reward. It will make him howl every time he needs your attention.
When rewarding a behavior, proper timing is key. Wait until he’s totally quiet and reward the behavior immediately. Again, it doesn’t always have to do snacks. A simple hug can do.
Is replacing the lost pet a good idea?
Although most people rush to get a new pet once they lose a dog, it’s not always the best thing you need to do. It’s something you really need to carefully think about before you decide. It’s wise not to introduce another pet immediately.
You have to give your dog enough time to mourn the lost friend and adjust to the loss before bringing in a new member.
When should you introduce a new pet to the family?
The first thing to consider before you bring in a new pet is whether you are ready for one. Ask yourself whether you are in a position to meet the daily requirements of your new pet before you adopt one.
The next question is whether your dog is ready for another relationship with a new pet. You can have your dog accompany you to a dog park to see how he will relate to other canines.
Alternatively, you can organize doggie play dates with other dogs to see the interaction. If none of the above seems to work, chances are that your dog hasn’t come across a dog that makes a perfect match.
Allow your canine to accompany you to a breeder or animal shelter to help you choose their new companion. Most shelters and breeders don’t prohibit people from coming with their dogs.
Dogs also mourn for their beloved ones. However, the mourning doesn’t always have to do with death. At times dogs will begin grieving when they just haven’t seen their cherished friend for a while, because they have either moved out or are away from home for some time.
Whether for a member who’s away or who’s passed away, dogs treat it with the same magnitude. It’s important to note that no two dogs respond the same way to the disappearance of their cherished friends.
When your dog begins to show signs of grieving, it’s the time they need you the most. With human support, dogs will be able to cope with the loss over time.