Expert advice from Baileys’ advisor on how to cope when a much loved pet dies
Q: I own two dogs, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever and a two-year-old Red Setter.
Although the retriever is doing fairly well for her age, I am concerned about how the younger bitch will cope when she loses her companion, as they are very attached to each other.
At the moment they are always walked together, sleep together etc. Do you have any suggestions?
Liz Bulbrook replies: Unfortunately loosing an old and faithful pet that has been a member of your family for a number of years is always hard, for you as well as for your younger dog.
It may be worth trying to adapt your dogs to doing things apart as well as together, for example as your retriever gets older she is unlikely to be as able, or keen, to do as much.
Occasionally take your younger dog out alone for walks and leave the older dog at home with a member of the family so that she doesn’t feel “left out”.
Alternatively if you have someone else with you when walking the dogs, turn back with the older dog and continue further with the younger, keeping her stimulated with training or games will help take her mind off her friend going home. In this way she may start to learn to cope with not always having her older companion with her.
When the inevitable sad day arrives, keep your setter occupied with walks and tryand to involve her in daily activities, if possible; it will be good for you also.
Sleeping may be more of an issue, some people suggest giving the dog a toy such as teddy or similar in their bed providing that she is not going to chew it up.
She may howl or cry initially but you must not give in to her and let her start sleeping with you, being strict in the short term should help in the longer.
Having been use to having two dogs you may want to consider getting another one, inthat way the loneliness scenario is overcome, but remember the cycle will continue whenever you have more than one pet living together!
I hope that these suggestions help, but if it becomes a real problem then seek the advice of a professional who specialises in animal behaviour.