Do dogs grieve?
Dogs do grieve when they’re missing someone they care about, whether that’s their human or even another animal friend.
“Some might cry out and search the house for their missing loved one,” Shojai said. “Or they might pine, hide themselves, refuse to eat, and mope.”
Some dogs may even visit their owners’ coffins or gravesites, just to feel close to their dearly departed BFFs. Like this pup, Belinha, who stayed by the side of her parents coffin during the entire funeral service and somehow knew exactly where she was buried despite not attending the burial. And Cesur, a dog who travels to his parents grave every day.
But all dogs are different and may express their grief in different ways, even if that means not expressing their grief.
“Theres no one-size-fits-all or ‘right way’ to grieve or ‘get over it,’” Shojai said. “Some dogs might seem to have no change whatsoever. And thats okay.”
And would he even know if his owner dies?
It’s kind of a grim thought, but you might wonder from time to time if your dog would actually miss you if something ever happened.
For example, do dogs get sad if their owners die?
We spoke with Amy Shojai, author and certified animal behavior consultant for cats and dogs, to find out if and how dogs perceive death, and what their grief might look like.
Anecdotal evidence of dogs appearing to understand death
One example of a dog appearing to understand death appeared on the Psychology Today website. The author, Steven Kotler, relayed a story where one of his rescue dogs died, and how another rescue dog reacted.
The dog that died was placed on a blanket, and the surviving dog kept pulling a blanket over the dead dog’s head. It looked to Kotler and his wife almost like burial type behavior. The actions were repeated, leading him to think that dogs do understand death.
Do dogs grieve?: Understanding canine love and loss
Dogs are known as man’s best friend for good reason. They offer companionship and loyalty, and both dog and owner form emotional attachments to each other. That means when a dog dies, it can have a huge impact. You only have to see the grief etched into an owner’s face when their dog passes.
Do dogs know if their owner dies? There is no scientific evidence to that can categorically say if dogs understand when their owner dies and grieves them. However, there is anecdotal evidence that dogs understand death based on the actions we see dogs taking after the death of an owner.
Well, I say there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that dogs grieve when their owner dies, and there is. Loads of it, which I will highlight in this article.
It’s all about assumptions, as the examples I am going to show you are typical of humans projecting their emotions onto dogs.
But… I still think it’s all very valid. There is a lot research we can point to which shows the types of emotions dogs do have (such as picking on their owners crying), so it’s not a leap to suggest that dogs understand death.