It’s widely known that dogs, like other pets, can experience emotion. We know a dog is happy from the wag of their tail, angry from the sound of their bark, or scared when their tail is between their legs. However, you may wonder how complex their emotions really are, especially since they cannot use words to communicate with us directly.
Most dogs will reach their emotional maturity by the time they are four to six months old (depending on their breed). In fact, the assortment of emotions available to a dog will not exceed that which is available to a human who is two and a half years old. This means that a dog will have basic emotions like joy, fear, anger, disgust, and love, while they won’t experience more complex emotions like pride or shame.
One emotion that dogs can experience is grief. When a dog loses a companion, two or four-legged, they exhibit changes in their behaviour, similar to humans experiencing the same emotions.
Pet owners may notice their dog become:
- Depressed and listless
- Less interested in food with a decreased appetite
- sleepier than usual and sulky
If you notice your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, here are a few ways you can help them cope:
- Spend extra time with them
- Be more affectionate
- Provide entertainment while you are gone
- If the symptoms are prolonged, consider consulting a veterinarian
If your dog’s grief is related to the loss of a canine companion, consider introducing a new dog to the family. Like people, dogs rely on social structures. A new companion could help your dog overcome their grief and find joy again.