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How to Introduce A New Pet To A Grieving Dog

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Published: 5/27/2021
It's not just pet parents that form strong bonds with their fur-babies. Pups will often form just as strong an attachment to their canine compadres as they form an essential part of their pack. So when one of your pups sadly passes away, it's not just you who'll be grieving, but your other woofer too

After a few weeks or months have passed, you might consider getting a new dog to help you and your pup deal with the loss. But how do you know the time is right? And how do you introduce a new pet to a grieving dog? Here are a few tips and tricks to help make this transition as smooth as possible.

Give your dog time to grieve

One mistake some pet parents make is to run out and get a new dog to keep their grieving hound company. As with humans, dogs want space to grieve and won't want a new canine compadre straight away. 

During the grieving process, keep your pup happy and active so grieving doesn't take a big toll on your doggo's physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Dogs grieve differently depending on their relationship. Studies show symptoms of grief in dogs can last anywhere from 2 to 6 months. 

It can be tricky to tell exactly when your dog might be ready to move on; however, there are a few signs to watch for and things you can do to speed up the process.

Keep up your dog's daily routine

When caring for a grieving pup, you should try to keep them in the same routine, as this will significantly reduce their stress levels. Walking and feeding your dog at the same time as usual will minimize the disruption to their day-to-day, even if their buddy isn't by their side. Keeping a solid routine will not only help your pup's grief but your own as well.

Provide additional stimulation

It's likely your dog that passed away provided your grieving pup with stimulation, whether through playtime or naptime. Your pooch will undoubtedly miss this dynamic and may feel lost, anxious, and bored without their canine companion. 

You can help alleviate some of your dog's boredom and anxiety through additional stimulation. Ways you can help keep your pupper's tail wagging include:

  • Extra walks 

  • Fun and challenging toys

  • Extra training sessions

  • Napping with your dog

Helping to supplement some of these interactions will help your dog deal with the loss of their furry friend.

Watch your dog's body language

One of the best ways to tell how your dog is coping is to pay attention to their body language. Just like humans, a dog's body language is a clear indication of how they feel. And, as you can't ask a dog how they feel, this is the best way to gauge their emotions. 

There are dozens of signs your dog is still grieving. Common symptoms that your pupper is still grieving include:

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Over or undersleeping

  • Separation anxiety

  • Behavioral issues (aggression, tearing at furniture, etc.)

  • Excessive vocalization (whimpering or barking)

If you notice your dog displaying any of these symptoms, contact a vet to check that it's not related to anything physical. If your vet says these symptoms are related to grieving, continue to help your dog by keeping up their routine and providing additional stimulation until these symptoms subside.

Ensure your pup is accepting of other dogs

Once you feel your dog is ready to accept another mutt, it's worth testing the waters first. The chances are your new dog and your grieving dog won't have the same relationship, so you'll want to ensure your grieving dog is comfortable around strange pups. 

Organize a doggie playdate or take your woofer to a quiet dog park and see how they react to other dogs in a controlled environment. Keep your dog on a leash to begin with in case they act out. If they seem happy and playful, you might start to consider getting your pooch a new playmate.

Let your dog come and help choose your new dog

Once you feel Fido is ready, you can go out and see about getting a new dog. Adopting is always the best option, and it'a great way of checking if your doggo is excited about having a new "fur-iend" is to let them help choose your new canine. 

While touring an adoption facility, your dog may be especially enthusiastic about a particular dog, in which case you may want to arrange a meeting to ensure they're a good fit.

Advice for the initial meeting

When introducing and bringing your new dog home for the first time, you'll want to follow some general guidelines to ensure they get along well. First, have the two dogs meet in a neutral location, so there's no territorial dispute.

Keep the dogs on leashes and let them interact with little mediation. If your dog displays signs of aggression, try to distract them with a treat, rather than pulling them away. Using positive reinforcement will create as little stress as possible. You can also try taking the two dogs on a short walk together to help build an initial bond.

Advice for bringing your new dog home

 As with the introduction, get your two dogs together in a neutral space to begin with, and don't just bring your new dog straight into your other dog's territory. If you have a large backyard, let them both outside under close supervision. 

When you let your new dog inside, keep them on a leash while they explore. If your other dog seems happy and doesn't display any negative body language, you can let your new dog roam free under close observation. 

Transition your new dog on your other dog's schedule so your grieving dog doesn't see any disruption to their day. When it's dinnertime, feed your grieving dog in their usual place and your new dog in a different room, so there aren't disputes over food. 

Over time, your dogs will grow closer, but you'll still want to observe them closely. If your doggos are playing, watch for signs of aggression, such as growling, long stares, and raised fur. If you notice any aggression, be ready to distract your dog to avoid any conflict. 

Over time, your pups will learn to tolerate each other, and while your new dog may not be able to replace your lost pup, they'll soon become an integral part of your home and your grieving pup's best bud.


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