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Do dogs know when you play dead?

Playing dead is one of those tricks that all dog owners like teaching their pets. It’s an amusing trick after all and some dogs really commit to the bit. If you have kids around, they will delight at the sight of the playful dog too.

You may be curious about what could happen if the roles were reversed. Would your dog know you were still playing around if you pretended to be dead? Let’s find out the answer to that question.

We’ll also touch on some other aspects of the playing dead trick and how dogs feel about it. Stay tuned because I’ve got some interesting information for you to check out!

Do Dogs Know When You Play Dead?

Dogs are incredibly smart. Any long-time dog owner can attest to that fact.

But are they smart enough to know when you’re playing a trick on them? To be more specific, will they be able to tell if you’re actually dead or just playing around?

The answer is yes, they know you’re just playing dead.

Dogs have a keen understanding of the creatures they interact with regularly. That’s because they know how to read body language.

Even if you’re pretending to be dead, your dog will still get the sense that nothing’s wrong. They may not understand exactly why you’re lying on the ground, but they do know you didn’t die.

If you’re trying to play a trick on your dog, you may have to try something else. Playing dead is not something that will catch your pet off guard.

How Do Dogs React When You Play Dead?

We now know that dogs can see right through our silly attempts to trick them into thinking we’re dead. Still, you might be curious to see how your dog may react to that sight.

If this is the first time you’re trying this trick on your pet, their reaction will likely be to check on you first. They know you’re fine, but they want to make sure.

Expect them to approach you and take a sniff. Once they know for sure that you’re okay, they may react in different ways.

Some dogs might think that you’re lying on the ground because you want to play. They will probably lick your face and proceed to jump around and bark until you pay attention to them. You’ll be locked into playtime for the next few minutes.

Other dogs will bark too, but it’s not because they want to play. They may be barking because they don’t understand why their owner is suddenly on the ground. In other words, they are confused by your antics.

If you like to lie down together with your pet, they might just join you on the ground. Instead of wondering why you chose the floor as your bed, they will just lie down next to you.

Your dog’s training can also affect how they will react. Dogs who have been trained to protect their owners will likely approach your head and try to shield it. They will also start barking to call attention to your condition.

Now, it’s also possible that your dog will provide no reaction at all. They may look at you weird and just walk away. You may get that kind of reaction if you try the playing dead trick too often.

Do Dogs Like to Play Dead?

My dog is always fully committed whenever she performs the play dead trick. The only thing that keeps the trick from being perfect is that she always looks my way. Of course, I don’t mind that at all.

While many dog owners enjoy seeing their pets perform the play dead trick, do the dogs themselves like it? Don’t worry because dogs probably enjoy doing it too.

When you taught your dog that trick, you probably did so by giving them treats and heaps of praise. Positive reinforcement is a great teaching tool and your pet likely still remembers how much fun the training sessions were.

Even today, you may still be giving them treats or pats on the head for getting the trick right. Since they like those things, they don’t mind performing the trick either.

Dogs love getting attention from their owner. If they know performing a simple trick garners them attention, you can count on them to keep doing it.

Do Dogs Mourn?

We cannot help but be morbidly curious sometimes. Of course, we don’t want to see our dogs sad, but we can still be curious about how they would react if something bad did happen.

You may be wondering if your dog would mourn you if you died.

Before we discuss dogs and mourning, let’s talk about the emotion that causes that reaction – grief. Do dogs experience grief when someone close to them dies?

Studies have indicated that dogs do indeed experience grief. They may even experience a very nuanced version of it.

For example, dogs may feel different levels of grief depending on how close they were to the animal or person who died.

Dogs are also said to be capable of sharing in our grief. They can pick up on our emotions and body language and understand that something’s wrong. They will likely feel down together with you.

Pet owners may also be surprised by how long dogs may go through their mourning period. Per this article from the American Kennel Club, dogs may go through a mourning period that could last for six months.

How can you tell that your dog is currently in a stage of mourning? There are signs you can watch out for. I’ve listed some of those signs of grieving below.


Dogs who are in the midst of grieving may become more clingy. They may have a desire to be wherever you are. Whenever possible, try to accommodate them and help them through their grief.

Preference for Being Alone

On the flip side, some dogs may prefer to be alone while they’re grieving. Give them space, but continue caring for them as well.

Unusual Barking or Whining

Not long after a fellow dog passes away, your pet may start to produce some weird noises. Those noises are likely cries of pain. Instead of physical pain, your dog is crying out due to grief.

It can be very difficult to hear the pained expressions of grief from your dear pet. All you can do for them at that time is to stay on standby and be ready to provide comfort when they want it.

Running through Your Home

Is your dog running through your home after a loved one passed away recently? That could be because they are hoping to find the companion they haven’t seen in a while. It’s heartbreaking to see, but it’s also a part of the grieving process for some dogs.

Behavioral Changes

A mourning dog is likely to exhibit an array of behavioral changes. Dogs who were previously playful may become more withdrawn. Others who were more reserved may start to become aggressive.

The changes could extend to their habits.

Don’t be surprised if there is food left in your pet’s bowl more often in the immediate aftermath of someone in your household passing away. That’s because dogs may lose their appetite while they are still grieving.

Dogs may also expel waste inside the home during that time.

Make sure you keep a close eye on your pet while they are still in mourning. The last thing you want is for them to fall ill during that time.