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Canine Behavior/Strange behavior after other dogs death

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Question
I had two dogs,Snowflake and Blizzard and they were with each other for 10 years.  The female, Snowflake which was a pit passed away and ever since this my boy dog, Blizzard which is lab/german sheppard mix has been taking food and leaving trails all over the house.  He never did this once while Snowflake was alive.  She was the dominant one in the relationship especially with food.  Do you know why he possibly could be doing this?  I know dogs can grieve when they lose a companion, is this just his way of grieving? Thanks

Answer
I'm sorry for your loss; some people are so insensitive to how important our dogs are to us and each life is sacred, God doesn't make junk.  The first impulse might be to get another dog, don't do it.  At ten, Blizzard may be unable to adjust to another "strange" dog.

This dog is confused and anxious.  He acquiesced to your bitch (Snowflake) as any good dog properly should.  He is most likely leaving these trails in some problem solving he is attempting, perhaps to placate her, not knowing she will not return.  Since he respected her, it would not be uncommon for him to be very uncomfortable consuming food without her presence, and thus the trail: rather like Hansel and Gretel.  Quite sad.  But this will pass.  Feed him normally; do not attempt to soothe him if he seems depressed, you will be rewarding his depression.  Interact with him normally and lavish praise upon him when he responds to commands or even approaches you: "Oh, what a good dog you are."  Eventually (most likely within weeks), he will "forget" and begin eating normally.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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