Dogs are one of the most expressive pets we bring into our lives. When your dog loses a companion, he will have stages of grieving the loss just as we experience. While we will never really know exactly how they process the loss of a special friend, there is no denying the sadness they express.
All dogs are different, and their reactions to loss will vary. Here are some of the signs of grief your dog may display.
The loss of another dog means the loss of a constant companion, one who was with your dog all day. The separation from this bond changes his regular daily routine and may make him feel disoriented. This causes distress for your dog, which may add to his sadness.
If you have more than one dog in your home, there is usually some sort of pecking order established. When one of the dogs dies, the other dogs may shift positions within the group. This adjustment adds to the difficulty of this transition. If the dominant dog dies, the grieving dog left behind has to adjust to being in charge. Sometimes the remaining dog begins to display a more outgoing personality that may have been stifled because of the other dog's dominance.
We have all seen the sad images on the Internet of dogs who would not leave their owners, even in death. The dog-human bond is very strong, and the loss a dog feels when he loses his owner can be very profound. Especially in situations where the dog has only one owner, a dog feels lost and depressed when he is suddenly alone. Routines are disrupted and the dog may show signs of confusion as he looks for his owner.
Shelters see the effects of grief on dogs firsthand, since many dogs wind up in shelters when their owners die. Having a plan ensures that your dog will be well cared for in case something happens to you. It would be especially helpful to your dog if the person entrusted with his care was already familiar to him.
Helping a dog work through grief can be a rewarding experience and is just as important for the dog as it is for humans.
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