One of the things that make dogs so special is the fact that they are social animals, and not just with humans. Anyone who has ever lived with more than one dog knows that they will form very deep and lasting bonds with each other, not unlike human companions. They do and share everything together and it shows. But if one of them leaves this world, do they grieve?
In a word, the answer is yes. A new study has found that dogs do indeed grieve their friends’ deaths. So do we just let them be, and let them figure out for themselves? No, absolutely not! Just as you wouldn’t let a human friend grieve on their own, so too you should let your dog friend grieve on their own. There are things you can do to help.
The study, published by Nature Magazine, found that owners who have had more than two dogs have observed grief responses in their pets when they lost a loved one. Things like behavioral changes in normal activities such as playing less or with less enthusiasm, varying eating habits, and changes in sleeping patterns.
Or, to put it another way, they experience mourning just like any human. And this isn’t your typical dog lover’s anthropomorphization as some might say. This is observable science.
So what do we as dog parents do to help our dogs in grieving? Well, just as with our human friends and family, we shouldn’t let them grieve alone.
And just like with our people friends we want to show our pups that life does indeed go on, even if it is painful. Doing the things that you would normally do in a routine can build that confidence back up.
One thing you can do to do more is offer your dog more attention. We sometimes take it for granted that our pup pals can entertain themselves, and sometimes that’s true. But during a sensitive time such as the loss of a friend we want to make sure we double or triple that attention.
And again, it’s so important to keep your dog’s schedule on track. On time meals, walks, and playtime in addition to the extra attention can mean a tremendous amount.
When tragedy strikes we need to be strong both for ourselves and our dogs, so that we don’t spiral out. It’s an uncomfortable facet of life but an unavoidable one nonetheless. Here’s hoping you and your pups are healthy and safe.