Do dogs mourn other dogs
My dog is grieving
Do dogs mourn their conspecifics? Or if they lose their owner? We have put together information about mourning in dogs here.
Can dogs grieve?
It has not yet been scientifically clarified whether dogs can mourn. Many dog owners would immediately say: yes. Because they have seen their four-legged friend mourn a pack member. Or was completely blown after the child moved out.
Biologists at least go so far as to say: yes, animals mourn. In any case, those who normally live in social associations and enter into long-term relationships with offspring, relatives and / or partners. These include next to the dogs z. B. also dolphins, whales, elephants or primates (monkeys). Dogs (and cats too) measurably change their behavior when a close housemate dies and it doesn't go too far to call this mourning. But of course we do not know how our dog feels when he is grieving and whether that is the same grief that a person feels.
One might well ask whether an animal understands the finality of death. Certainly but in any case the absence of a familiar conspecific painter who z. B. Has provided security, proximity and company. For example, the dog mourns the loss of a bitch who may have been company, playmate, but also a sexual partner.
How do I know my dog is grieving?
The mourning usually runs in phases: from the initial “That can't be” (protest phase) to a depressive-looking withdrawal (desperation phase). Usually this is followed by re-entry into normal life, bit by bit. However, some people - or animals - remain withdrawn and then need help.
The following behaviors can occur and - in combination with the death or departure of a conspecific or loved one - indicate grief:
- The dog eats hesitantly or not at all.
- The animal looks restless, wanders around. Often it also withdraws and sleeps more.
- The instinct to play and general expressions of joy such as tail wagging decrease.
- Your four-legged friend is increasingly looking for you to be close, wants to cuddle a lot or simply does not leave your side. He doesn't tolerate being alone.
- Frictions among the remaining pack members often occur because the hierarchy has to be re-explored.
- Other behaviors or habits can suddenly change.
Some dogs mourn a dog less than they mourn the loss of their master or mistress. This can be explained by the fact that not only is the person missing, but also the usual processes, feeding routine, walking laps, etc. break away with them. Often there is also a move to a new home, which also causes stress. In addition, our domestic dogs are usually much more dependent on "their" humans than on their pack mates.
When dogs grieve: how can I help?
Is your dog grieving? Here's how you can support him: Above all, be sensitive to what he needs right now. Here are a few more tips to make saying goodbye a little easier:
Saying goodbye: If possible, the dog should be able to say goodbye. Sniff the conspecifics one more time - animals then know that the friend is dead. Leave familiar blankets or - in the case of people - items of clothing or shoes for a while and then put them away piece by piece. Even if you as the owner feel more like a "cut" and would like to hide everything in a box straight away.
Cuddle a lot: Be very clear about the needs of your four-legged friend for a while: If he wants some rest, leave it to him. If he wants to cuddle, give him a little more time than usual with petting, brushing, etc.
Giving security: Of course, you can also mourn if the deceased was important to you. Nevertheless, try to offer your furry darling as much security, calm and normalcy as possible, this will significantly reduce the stress for him. These include B. the normal walking laps and feeding times. Dogs therefore grieve less when the owner offers them stability.
Allow mourning rituals: Does your dog mourn, sit in front of the door every day and look out for his partner? That's fine, don't stop this. It usually goes by on its own after a while, but you can try to distract him with games.
Activate: Try to get your dog going again after a period of grieving. Long walks, maybe to new places, new games or going for a walk with other dogs can awaken the spirits and also distract him a little.
My dog is grieving: how much is normal?
Experience shows: Dogs grieve very differently and for different lengths of time. Therefore there is hardly a rule of thumb. Usually the grieving behavior ends after less than half a year. Does your dog mourn for a long time, seems to be suffering from it extremely, is losing weight, is only dragging the partner's blanket around and is not responsive? Then please get competent help in-house as soon as possible! A specialist veterinarian for behavioral medicine or very well-trained dog trainers will work with you to provide assistance to make your beloved four-legged friend's farewell and life easier. It can also prevent the dog from slipping into a real depressive phase.
Important: Strong territorial behavior can also be part of the mourning behavior. So if you want to get a new animal, let enough time pass. Otherwise the probability increases that the new roommate will be rejected by your dog, possibly even fought. On the other hand, there are also dogs whose grief was abruptly ended by a new comrade and whose joie de vivre quickly returned.
Dog mourns: conclusion
Even if it is not scientifically clear how dogs grieve, you see it often enough. Support your darling with attention and care during this time.
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