Dog’s be­hav­ior tied to loss of loved one

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Movies - Send ques­tions, sto­ries and tips to cathy@pet­pun­dit.com. Cathy Rosen­thal

Dear Cathy: We are friends with an el­derly cou­ple who adopted a young res­cue about 10 years ago.

The wife passed away about a month ago, and sud­denly the dog is pee­ing on the car­pet three times in one day, even though he has a dog­gie door that he does con­tinue to use reg­u­larly.

This has been go­ing on for a cou­ple of days, and the house­keeper is get­ting pretty up­set about it. She tried the age-old rem­edy of rub­bing the dog’s nose in the pee spot, and he growled at her.

What now? — Nancy, Glas­ton­bury, CT

Dear Nancy: This dog is in grief over the loss of his owner.

When some­one dies, an­i­mals of­ten grieve through changes in be­hav­iors, which may re­sult in more sleep­ing, more lethar­gic be­hav­iors, and even in­ap­pro­pri­ate elim­i­na­tion in the home.

Rub­bing the dog’s nose in the pee spot has never worked to change a be­hav­ior. The best way to re­store nor­mal be­hav­iors is to give the dog lots of love and at­ten­tion. But, keep in mind, it’s not un­com­mon for a dog or cat to grieve for a loved one for many weeks and months.

As for the in­ap­pro­pri­ate elim­i­na­tion in­side the home, tell the house­keeper and the wid­ower to act like they are house­train­ing a new dog.

What that means is, they need to take the dog out to re­lieve him­self af­ter ex­er­cise and play, af­ter he wakes up, af­ter he eats, and be­fore bed­time — just like with a puppy.

They should see an im­prove­ment within a few days but should con­tinue to do this train­ing con­sis­tently for a few weeks to en­sure it sticks.

If the elim­i­na­tion con­tin­ues, the dog could have de­vel­oped a health prob­lem that may have re­sulted from grief or just co­in­ci­den­tally over­lapped with the death of his loved one.

In ei­ther case, he may need to see a vet­eri­nar­ian for a health exam.

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