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Canine Behavior/Canine Grief


Hi there, my parents have a dog that was the same age as my dog, they basically knew each other from day one and were great friends. They didn't see each other all the time or very often as my parents live out of town. My dog recently passed away due to cancer and the other dog was here shortly afterwards and is now showing strange behaviour back home.  He is hiding under the bed alot and needs to be coaxed out, he sits and stares at the window alot or at the front door now. He won't go out the patio door when sitting and staring as though he wanted to go outside.  He won't take treats or water when behaving this way either.  Could he be grieving the loss of his buddy by behaving like this now? He has never done this prior to my dogs passing, so is it possible this is his way of grieving the loss of his friend. He has never gone under the bed to lay down or anything before this or act strange like he is scared or something.  Any advice or suggestions you may have would be appreciated.


We believe that dogs are capable of grieving the loss of someone close to them. Some dogs are quite demonstrative in their grief, while others appear to be entirely unfazed by the loss. I suppose it is possible that this is what's happening with your parent's dog, though it seems unlikely.

If the dogs lived together, or saw each other multiple times per week, the sudden disappearance of your dog would certainly be noticed and I wouldn't be surprised to see an ongoing display. But you indicated that your parents and their dog live out of town from you and so visits were infrequent. I'm certain that their dog noticed your dog's lack of presence when at your house. I would have expected to see signs of his concern at your house - sniffing, looking/searching, lack of energy/lethargy, signs of depression - because this is where their dog spent time with your dog. But back at his own home, where he's not used to seeing your dog (at least not on a daily basis), it seems less likely that a lingering grief is the reason. Dogs are very "present in the moment" and so if his home normally doesn't have your dog in it, then he wouldn't expect to see your dog there (even if he did visit there).

I suppose it is possible, especially if he began showing signs at your house, that he is grieving and continuing to grieve at home. But I would be first and foremost more concerned about an illness or injury that popped up coincidentally with this visit to your home. Travel, especially in a somewhat older dog, can do a number on dogs and so he may have come down with something during this visit or on the trip back home. You didn't indicate how old this dog is, but there are a number of ailments/injuries that will manifest first as an odd behavior change, including hiding, hesitance to come out from hiding, staring, hesitance to go out, lack of appetite, etc. So, if this were my dog having this experience - even though I can tie the onset of the behavior to a first visit where a doggie friend was expected and not there, I would definitely be taking my dog for a complete vet exam - to include blood work and a thyroid check. It may be nothing. It may be just grief or exhaustion from the trip. But it could be something that needs immediate medical attention, that if treated he will bounce right back to his normal self.

So, I encourage your parents to get their dog into the vet this week for a complete physical exam and a complete blood panel - including checking thyroid levels. If the vet gives the dog a clean bill of health, then we can look at this as a truly behavioral issue that may be just from the stress of travel, or may include some grief or at least confusion at not seeing an expected friend in an expected place.

I wish you and your parents the best of luck. Please feel free to followup after the vet visit if I can be of further assistance.

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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