According to a survey, dogs appear to be truly saddened by the loss of their canine companions.
A survey reveals that dogs truly miss their lost canine pals. The loss of a beloved dog canine companion is heartbreaking, and recent research suggests that you are not alone. Any other canines in your household may be grieving, as seen by their behavior.
When one dog in the family dies, any other dogs are more likely than not to show a clear lack of doggy luster, as observed by their humans, according to a poll of 426 multiple-dog owners in Italy. Although this will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever been friends with a dog, the study signals a step forward in identifying a component of animal care that has hitherto been overlooked.
In their paper, a team led by veterinary scientist Federica Pirrone of the University of Milan writes that these findings suggest that dogs behavior may exhibit grief-related and emotional traits when a close relative dies. Parts of the latter may be linked to the owner's emotional state.
If you've ever owned a pet of any kind, you might assume that they have complex emotional lives. However, scientific study and documenting these emotional lives is still in infancy.
Grief, in particular, is intriguing because, as a subjective experience, it could reveal something about animal cognition. In the case of dogs, it can also assist us in better meeting their emotional requirements.
Nonhuman primates, elephants, cetaceans (such as dolphins), and other animals have been reported to exhibit grieving behavior. However, there is very little research on mourning in dogs in the scientific literature. It's been seen only a few times in the wild, and there's no sign of mourning in our domesticated companions.
Pirrone and her team decided to go out and find some. They enlisted the help of 426 people who lived with at least two dogs and witnessed one die. Following that, these humans were given the duty of anonymously filling out a scientifically validated questionnaire concerning their surviving dogs' conduct after being bereaved.
The humans also discussed the dogs' relationship and reactions to their pet's demise. The researchers also examined whether the humans' memories of their pets' behaviors were influenced by the fading memory of their suffering during bereavement to ensure that the memories of behavior were not influenced.
Following the death of their canine family members, the majority of dogs' humans reported behavioral changes. The demeanor of their dog has become noticeably more timid or dependent, according to 86% of the humans.
The most common response observed by these humans was an increase in demanding attention, followed by a drop in playing and a decline in all activity from their surviving dog by 57 percent and 46 percent, respectively. Thirty-five percent of owners reported greater sleeping time and fearfulness, 32 percent reported decreased appetite, and 30% reported more whining or barking.
Ninety-three percent of the bereaved dogs had lived with their companions for more than a year, and 69 percent enjoyed cordial relationships.
Surprisingly, the length of time they had lived together did not affect the surviving dog's behavior.
The strength of the dogs' bond and the human's emotions did, however, affect the behavior of the surviving dogs. The surviving dog was more likely to show fearfulness, be less engaged in the activity, and demand more attention from their owner if the dog had a friendly relationship and the human was also grieving intensely.
However, the researchers say that based on this poll, it's impossible to make a firm conclusion and assert categorically that dogs lament the deaths of their companions. Other things may have an impact on the dogs' behavior.
Since human-dog bonding can affect a dog's view of a deceased conspecific [meaning another dog], they write in their article that attribution of a specific pattern, if any, of exploration would be challenging.
Not only may anthropomorphism play a part in attributing a specific function to the dogs' behavior, but increased attention to a deceased individual could also be a result of increased attention from the owners.
Stress appears to be contagious between dogs and their owners; therefore, emotional contagion is possible. Our findings could indicate that the dogs react to the 'loss' of affiliation rather than their death.
In any case, the dogs appear to be sensing something. Further research into how dogs respond to death appears to be quite merited, according to the experts, if it implies happier, healthier animal buddies.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.