My 12-year-old German shepherd passed away three weeks ago, leaving me and my 7-year-old beagle, Chloe, very sad. Chloe has seemed very quiet and reserved since my other dog died, sleeping more than usual and not seeming interested in eating or walks like she normally is. Friends tell me to adopt another dog, but I'm not ready for that yet. Is there another way I can help Chloe bounce back?
I'm very sorry for your loss — it's never easy. And pets experience loss just like we do. They understand and feel more than we give them credit for. They are pure emotional beings.
Chloe is grieving, depressed and feeling lonely. She is hurting just like you. She needs quality one-on-one time with you, whether that means taking a walk or sitting in a park talking to her. She needs your full attention when you are with her. Give positive praise and encouragement frequently.
Realize that she is picking up on your emotions also. I know it will be hard, but try to start being more upbeat and encouraging. And get excited about walks, take her to new places, see friends with her, etc. This will be good for her and you. She will follow your lead. The more active you are with her and positive the better.
Please do not go out and adopt another dog. She needs to heal just like you. In time, she may be interested in another partner. After a loss like this, some dogs want to be the only dog until it is their time. She will give you clues (enjoying another dog's company, playing more with the other dogs, not wanting to leave other dogs' company, getting excited when she sees another dog) and will let you know if she wants another partner.
This week's expert is Kristin Tamke, founder of Behavioral Healing LLC. Send your questions to email@example.com.