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Do Dogs Grieve When Another Dog Dies?

How to help your dog cope with the death of a housemate dog.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
August 15, 2011
Episode #115

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How to Help Your Dog Cope with the Change

As usual, the reasons for a problem point to the best responses. If one of your dogs has died and the other’s acting perfectly normal, then keep doing whatever you’re doing. For a dog who acts distressed, keep up her regular routine as much as possible. You can’t reasonably or realistically hide your grief. But even if you feel terrible, you can take steps to add enjoyment and interest to your dog’s life. Consider more exercise, especially if your dogs used to play together. This could be a good time to play games and do reward-based training, as well. Most dogs who seem to be grieving return to their normal selves within a couple of weeks.

For a dog like Greta, whose timidity was alleviated by her dog friend Oyster, I recommend making her routine as stable and predictable as you can. I say this over and over again, but it always bears repeating: reward-based training is not only fun for dogs but also a great way to help them perceive the world as manageable and safe. This might be a good time to have a qualified behavior consultant offer some individually tailored ideas for increasing Greta’s confidence. Meanwhile avoid dogs who scare her. Greta’s fear of Lucy isn’t Lucy’s fault, but it’s important to prevent further distress.

Get Help Right Away for Behavior Problems

If real problems, like isolation distress or fighting, appear after one of your dogs dies, get help right away. The sooner we get to work changing a difficult behavior, the better our odds are of reducing it or getting it out of the way entirely. But remember, serious problems are the exception. Most dogs bounce back after a few days or a couple of weeks. We humans usually can’t recover as quickly, but we can take comfort from our dogs’ joy in life.

You can follow The Dog Trainer on Twitter, where I’m Dogalini, as well as on Facebook, and write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and I may use them as the basis for future articles. Thank you for reading! And remember to enjoy your dog.
 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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