Helping your dog mourn the loss of another dog

When you have a senior dog and you decide to introduce a new puppy, they can either become good friends or just tolerate each other. A young puppy sometimes enjoys being mothered by an older dog, or he can take charge of looking after the elder dog, becoming good pals.

However, inevitably as time passes, the older dog will pass away before the junior dog, leaving a void in the younger dog’s life.

Adults of course realise what has happened but a puppy or a young dog, while he will sense that something is wrong, he will still wait patiently for his pal to come home.

Something is wrong, my pal has not come home, whether I like it or not, they went through that door with my pal and I have not seen him since’, thoughts and words similar to these will be left running through your dog’s mind, still watching for a clue that his best friend is coming home.

A dog that had a close relationship with an adult dog will start to worry that his owner or other members of his adult family is going to leave the room and not come back as well. The symptoms of his stress may cause him to become listless, or to pick up his pal’s favourite toy, taking it to his dog basket.

One thing that most dog owners do is store, or leave in place, the older dog’s basket, leave his dog collar and dog lead hanging up and leave his toys around. To the younger dog this is torture, as he can smell his friend but not see him.

It is hard, but removing all traces of your older dog will help your remaining pet move forward with his life. To bring about some relief to your dog, start to change his mindset with a few tips as set out below, remembering you will need time and patience.

Dog owner tips for a grieving dog:

  • Take his mind off the loss of his friend with plenty of cuddles and play, take them out to a different park
  • When you have to go out, try hiding small treats or his toys in his favourite spots, such as in his dog basket, near his water bowl or under his dog blanket.
  • If your dog whines, do not give him attention or you will start off a habit, choose to give him attention with a treat when he quietens down.
  • Keep your dog active, do not give him time to mourn, let him know his life is busier then ever.

According to expert dog trainers and the RSPCA, time is everything, just like an adult, a dog can take two weeks or six months to fully recover from the loss of a friend.

One last note: It is not good timing to introduce a new puppy when a dog is grieving, having to get to know a new pal will enhance his emotional state, not cure it. After all, your dog would prefer to have your company and share his time with you.