Do dogs grieve?

Do dogs grieve?

Dogs may not experience and process grief the same way we do, but the behavioral changes that occur after a human or animal companion passes indicate they do feel a sense of loss and bereavement. 

Dogs might not expertise and course of grief the identical approach we do, however the behavioral adjustments that happen after a human or animal companion passes point out they do really feel a way of loss and bereavement. 

Back in 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote the definitive ebook about grief, titled On Death and Dying. In it, she speaks in regards to the universality of grief and the way it’s a course of all of us expertise when a beloved one passes away. One of the important thing contributions of the ebook are the 5 phases of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, despair, and at last acceptance. But what about our canines — do they grieve? Do they transfer by means of a grief technique of their very own after a human or animal companion dies?

Signs of grief in canines

Deena Cooper, a Canadian canine coach and conduct modification specialist, says that canines, like people, grieve when a beloved one dies. They might not perceive the idea of dying the best way we do, however they understand that one other animal or individual is instantly gone from their lives, they usually miss that particular person.

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“The indicators of grieving for each canines and folks might be the identical,” Deena says. “Depression is typical, and is characterised by sleep issues, decreased urge for food, a lower in exercise and heightened anxiousness. In canines, these states manifest in behaviors akin to panting, pacing, and typically the destruction of objects.” Additionally, a grieving canine might withdraw from folks and different animals, exhibit apathetic conduct, have accidents within the dwelling, and attempt to discover their lacking companion.

Other indications of canine grief, in line with the American Kennel Club, embrace vocalization akin to whining or crying, and extreme clinginess to another person within the family.

Studies point out that canine grief is actual

In 1996, a survey carried out by the ASPCA referred to as the Companion Animal Mourning Project discovered that canines do certainly grieve for misplaced family members. The researchers discovered that 66% of canines endure a number of behavioral adjustments after the lack of one other canine companion:

  • 36% of canines exhibited a lower in urge for food, whereas over 10% wouldn’t eat in any respect.
  • While many canines from the survey slept greater than regular, others appeared to endure from sleeplessness. Some additionally began sleeping in numerous areas of the home.
  • Almost 65% of canines have been both roughly vocal than earlier than the loss.
  • The bereaved canines usually grew to become extra clingy and demanding of affection.

According to the American Kennel Club, a more moderen research printed within the November 2016 version of Animals discovered that grieving behaviors in canines can differ relying on the canine. The research additionally discovered that it usually takes two to 6 months for a bereaved canine’s conduct to return to regular.

The AKC experiences on an extra research that was printed in a 2017 version of Scientific American. Conducted by Barbara J. King, Professor Emerita of Anthropology on the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, the research indicated that the lack of a canine companion could cause conduct adjustments within the surviving canine, together with social withdrawal, a reluctance to eat, and stress-related vocalizations.

How to assist a grieving canine

Grief is extraordinarily troublesome for us to cope with, and Deena says the identical is true for our canines. Here’s easy methods to assist your canine if he’s mourning a companion:

  • You might understand that your canine is hiding greater than regular and that’s okay. Allow him to grieve and have some alone time.
  • Deena provides that it’s additionally essential to present your canine additional consideration and TLC when he desires it. This high quality time is sweet for you as effectively, because you’re most likely additionally grieving the loss.
  • Ensure your canine is getting satisfactory train, and that he’s consuming correctly. If his urge for food appears low, tempt him with some wholesome treats or toppers.
  • If your canine has misplaced a canine companion he was near, you may contemplate adopting one other canine to assist him get well from his bereavement. Don’t consider the brand new canine as a “alternative” for the one which has handed, however as a option to encourage the surviving canine to interact in life once more.
  • An different to adopting one other canine is to rearrange play dates with different canines, or discover new actions to do together with your canine.
  • Most importantly, simply be there in your canine to present him the love and a spotlight he must get well from the lack of his shut good friend, whether or not human or animal.

Anecdotal proof of grief in canines


Perhaps one of the well-known tales of a canine grief is the epic story of Hachiko. This Akita Inu canine was born on a farm in 1923 and adopted by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture on the University of Tokyo. The two fell right into a day by day routine. Each morning, Ueno would pet Hachiko goodbye earlier than boarding the prepare to work. Hachiko then spent the day on the prepare station ready for Ueno to return, whereas native shopkeepers and station employees watched over him. Their walks to and from the station continued for a number of years till at some point Ueno by no means got here dwelling from work. He had suffered a mind hemorrhage and tragically died.

Of course, Hachiko had no thought what had occurred, and each morning for the following 9 years, he arrived on the prepare station trying to find his finest good friend. As time handed, his loyalty earned him the nickname “the devoted canine.” Hachiko handed away in 1935, and a bronze statue was erected exterior the Shibuya Station as a tribute to the canine. “Hachiko is an impressive instance of a canine grieving for a beloved one,” says Deena. “In this case, the grief is illustrated by Hachiko’s loyalty, and the truth that he continued in search of his finest good friend for 9 years.”


“My canine Aspen is my finest good friend,” says Kristen Williams. “I’ve had her since she was 5 weeks previous and I used to be 17. She’s been by means of all of it with me — highschool, dwelling in three states, totally different jobs and relationships.”

But issues weren’t at all times rosy for Kristen and Aspen. When the pup was about ten months previous, Kristen’s mom advised her she needed to discover a new dwelling for Aspen. Heartbroken, Kristen posted her on a Facebook web page and somebody supplied to take her. The new household returned her inside two days however by no means mentioned what went incorrect. They didn’t even need a refund. Just a few days later, another person needed her. They beloved Aspen immediately and took her that night time. Just a few days later, they referred to as and mentioned in addition they wouldn’t have the ability to preserve her. Kristen advised her mom, “If the following household offers her again, she’s meant to be with us.” The subsequent household got here, beloved Aspen immediately, and left along with her. The subsequent morning, there was a knock on the door and a person stood there with child Aspen. He mentioned he couldn’t preserve her however supplied no clarification. Needless to say, Kristen received to maintain her canine. “Perhaps Aspen was pressured and exhibiting indicators of grief, and the brand new households felt she’d be higher off with Kristen,” says Deena.

As we study extra about canine cognition and conduct, we’re realizing that canines really feel a variety of feelings, together with grief. Recognizing the indicators of a mourning canine, and serving to him transfer by means of the method, will assist ease your individual grief and strengthen your bond of affection.

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