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Tips for helping your dog deal with the loss of a companion

Not all dogs will feel the loss of a companion dog, however if the dogs were closely bonded and one of them passes, the surviving dog may have what is often referred to as ‘distress reaction’, which really is just like grief in us humans.

Dogs can suffer from this is varying degrees, from just acting a bit ‘out of sorts’ to full blown depression in some cases. Here are some signs to look out for:-

Dog may eat less or go off its food altogether

Sleeping patterns may change – some dogs will sleep more and other dogs battle to sleep or settle down and wander around more than usual.

The dog may seem to loose total interest in normal activities.

While dogs seem to take themselves away from the family and want to lie by themselves, other dogs will become more dependant on its human family, constantly wanting attention or to be more around the family than normal.

What can also occur is that the dog may wander from room to room or outside as if looking for its friend.
Some tips to help your dog get through the loss

Although it may be tempting to give your dog much more attention than usual, refrain from this. Try to keep the attention you do give your dog as normal as possible. In general, you want to keep life as normal as possible, especially routines.

Where feeding is concerned, keep mealtimes the same. If the dog does not eat all it's food, leave for about 10 minutes and then put into fridge and offer at

the next meal - this way you are using his hunger to get his appetite back. Don't make the mistake of trying to get your dog to eat by hand feeding or offering special treats- this is just the start of a bad habit and your dog training you!

If there are other dogs in the family, changes in the hierarchy between dogs often changes when one leaves. Try to leave the dogs to sort the new status out for themselves without interference from humans unless the situation is serious. If this is the case, then do consider professional assistance. www.animal-behaviour.org.za for a consultant near you.

If you do want to give some extra attention, then rather do some TTouch on your dog. If you have never had the opportunity of attending a TTouch workshop or session, just doing some Ear Work on your dog will help to reduce the stress levels. We really believe that TTouch is a modality that all pet owners should learn, and here is a video on how to do the simple Ear Work. The ear contains over 200 Acupressure points and the tip of the ear can prevent a dog (human or any other animal) go into shock and helps to release stress. If you would like to learn more about this amazing modality www.ttouch.co.za.

Increase daily walks even if only for 15 minutes a day during the week. A daily walk will take the dog's mind off the loss, help to balance serotonin levels and give the dog something to look forward to. It will additionally improve your existing bond and being out in the fresh air with a loved companion, may help your own grief as well.

Engage in whatever games the dog normally likes. Don't go too overboard with this, but do a bit more than usual. Suggestions, a game of ball, twice a day if this is what the dog enjoys.

Increase mental stimulation by way of offering a special treat such as a Kong or Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude, stuffed with some favourite treats - just make sure this does not take the place of standard meals.

Of course you will be feeling grief yourself, however the more you upset yourself and cry, the more the dog is going to pick up on this as they definitely tune into our emotions. Try to do your mourning in private away from the dog. There is no time line to grief - as in humans, some people recover quicker than other.

Consider the use of an Alternative Remedy such as the FOTD Grief spray, Rescue Remedy or similar. If you feel that your dog needs Vet assistance, don't hesitate to take the dog in for a consult.

It is better not to consider another dog at this stage - wait until your dog is back to being himself, and then if necessary you can think about this option.

- by Scotty Valadao; Canine Behaviour Consultant (ABC of SA) : TTouch Practitioner - www.fods.co.za

Courtesy www.friendsofthedog.co.za - your one stop website for all things dog related!

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