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Dogs can feel emotions including grief, depression and anxiety. Being separated from the human he’s bonded to can be stressful. Extra care and attention may be needed to help him make temporary or permanent adjustments.
Dogs can develop separation anxiety when they’re away from their primary caregiver, even for short periods of time. The anxiety can manifest as whining or crying, destructive behavior or inappropriate elimination. Behavioral training can help reduce symptoms of this disorder, as can conducting short-term practice runs where the owner repeatedly leaves and comes back. If an owner is frequently away for work, it can be helpful to have another familiar face check on the dog during the day. Walking, talking, feeding and playing can help reduce the severity of the anxiety.
When a dog owner is gone for extended periods of time, it can be difficult for the dog to understand and cope. Military deployment, leaving for college or even taking a vacation can be hard for the pup to bear. Employ video conferencing when possible to help the duo stay connected. Give the pup something that smells like his owner -- such as a piece of recently worn clothing -- to help ease his sadness during separation periods.
Death of an Owner
When a dog owner dies and leaves his pet behind, the dog can experience a profound sense of loss and may go through a period of grieving. He may search for his owner or he may become depressed, eating and drinking less than normal and sleeping more than usual. Try to help the pup maintain his routine during this period and encourage him to do everyday things, such as take walks, go to favorite places or play. Expect the dog to need extra attention, especially if the owner’s death results in rehoming.