How Your Dog Can Help You Deal with Grief

Something that we all have the misfortune to experience in life is grief. We will all lose someone close to us, and while it can seem unfair and as though the pain will never end, there will come a time when you can smile again. Often, pushing other people away is a normal part of the grieving process, but your dog won’t abandon you, and it has actually been shown that they can help you deal with the grief and your feelings of despair.

How to Tell Your Dog Knows You’re Sad

Dogs are incredibly receptive to our emotions, and they can feel them change or even anticipate that they are about to. They can feel concern for your current emotional state, and they may even come and curl up next to you to let you know that they are close.

Whether you are crying or just feeling sad, they will wait quietly for you to acknowledge them before they lick or snuggle you. They are waiting for permission and letting you know that they are there for you to pet in the meantime.

Here is some of the body language to look for when seeing if your dog knows you are sad:

  • Staring
  • Head tilting
  • Alert posture
  • Ears back/down
  • Listening
  • Wagging tail
  • Attentiveness
  • Calm
  • Silence
  • Nuzzling

Dogs and Grief: A Short History

For thousands of years, our dogs have been there for us, and we have been buried with them for as long as they have been our companions. Ancient texts describe them as loyal and faithful companions, and they have been used to help with grief and emotions for just as long. Today, they are there for us in the form of therapy and service dogs, and even funeral homes have started implementing them into the business to help grieving families. For those grieving at all ages, a dog is there to offer comfort and support.

The Science

Interacting with your dog has been shown to boost oxytocin levels, the hormone that reduces stress and anxiety as well as your blood pressure and heart rate. The stress hormone cortisol is also reduced, leaving you feeling calmer and more relaxed than you were. A dog is more likely to approach a person who is crying as well, wanting to see what is wrong and concerned, as well as looking to see if there is a way in which they can help.

To Conclude

Hopefully, this has given you some peace when it comes to realizing just how much your dog can help you get through this difficult time in your life. We know it is not easy, and it may not feel as though life will ever be the same again, but it will. Most importantly, you should always take as much time as you need to grieve. Let it all out, celebrate the life of those you loved, and allow your dog to help you heal. You can read my article How Dogs Can Help with Mental Health – Mind Boosting Benefits of Dog Ownership here.

About the Author

Will is a freelance writer, his blog can be seen here . If you are interested in more information on the benefits of dog ownership including health tips, buyers guide’s and gear reviews, then check out his guides over at


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