Sad but true? [Why do dogs try to run away from home to die?]

Why do dogs try and run away from home to die?

Do they?

To the best of my knowledge, they don’t. What are you referring to?

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To the best of my knowledge, they rarely if ever do. (I’ve had a dog die at home and it certainly made no attempt to leave the house.) What evidence do you have that this is the case?

And if a dog does run away from home and then dies, the cause and effect might be the other way around. Maybe he got onto busy streets and got hit by a car, or maybe he didn’t know how to fend for himself and starved, or maybe he fell in with the wrong crowd and got killed in a fight.

Never seen this either.
I’ve seen a very sick dog hide in a corner and I assumed it was because they just wanted to be left alone.

I’ve heard of cats doing this, but I don’t think it happens with dogs. I can’t find a cite for it anyway.

There may be some truth to it – when sick or in pain, an animal might instinctively hide or flee.

It’s a widespread belief, though there don’t seem to be any hard sources.

We just recently had to put our dog down, and during the sad days that led up to it, she became very reclusive, until… well, she couldn’t really move on her own anymore.

I’ve heard stories from family of their dogs hiding in the yard or under porches (etc.) knowing their number was almost up.

We had an ailing dog disappear this summer and not return. He had been sick for about a year and was slowly declining. Then one evening my wife noticed he had an odd look before going out on his semi-regular solitary wander through the fields and valley; he never came back and we couldn’t find him after a couple weeks searching. On the surface it appeared he “left home to die”, but I think people read into these things more than necessary.

The typical reasoning I’ve read is that the close-to-death dog has some pretty bad days and feels vulnerable and/or scared, and will seek out a hiding place where it feels safe to hunker down for a bit. Usually they get over the feeling or pain temporarily and wander home… and you never even realize they made the trip. Eventually though, during one of their rest periods they don’t get over their condition and end up dying where they lay. Sometimes it happens to be at home, other times it’s during a little trip they made alone. If they happened to be resting or hiding in a secluded area, they may never get found.

Through confirmation bias we develop the idea that dogs intentionally go away specifically to die, and sometimes we even try to assign emotional or survival motivations for them to do so… but wider research into the subject reveals that there really is no such pattern of leaving to die. We remember the one (and only) time a sick dog didn’t come back and forget all the times they did. And we also don’t think about all the times a healthy dog does or doesn’t come back from a solitary romp through the grass.

My wife’s dog did this. I think it was partially dementia. He was pretty rough toward the end.

animals often go to a secure spot when ailing.

they might go to a tight restricted spot to be protected.

Did the OP ask because of this recent news story, where a dog “took a bullet” for its family’s kids, and then ran behind a building to die? (In other words, was the OP referring to the fact that this dog ran to a more secluded spot to die?)

My grandmother’s dog did this, but I mostly remember it because it’s the only natural death of a dog I’ve ever witnessed. But Abby was ailing, and we were in fact in the middle of a family meeting about “is it time?” (to have her put down), when she walked into the living room, nestled her head on my lap and asked for head scritches, and then did the same for everyone else in the room. She finished with my grandfather (who we should have been having much the same conversation for, if the world were a sane place) and then she went to the front door and pawed at it. It was very strange, because she never went in or out the front, always the back. But, curious, Grandma asked me to open the door for her. I did, and she went out on the front porch, circled thrice as dogs do, laid down and died.

Strangest thing I’d ever seen. And very hard not to anthropomorphize that behavior as saying goodbye and removing herself from the “pack” so as not to bother anyone with her death.

Damn allergies

Chills. And a few tears.