Bereavement: Making a fresh start with a new pet

So, when should you get a new dog? Some people feel the need to ‘replace’ a pet immediately in an attempt to fill the void, whilst others may feel that they will never be ready to bring another dog into the house. Generally though, it is a good idea to wait a while to get another pet as it can be difficult to make sensible decisions whilst your emotions are in turmoil. 

A new dog should really only be acquired because you (and your whole family) are ready to look forward and build a new relationship with a pet. It should not be because you are stuck in the past - mourning your loss and trying to regain what you had with your much-loved deceased companion. Inevitably this only leads to disappointment and heartache for you and your new dog.

Once you have decided that the time is right, how should you go about choosing a new dog? It may be a good idea to get a very different type or different looking dog from your previous pet as this may help you to avoid making unfair comparisons with him or her. You may want to consider adopting an unwanted dog from a rehoming organisation as a living tribute to your pet’s memory.

Try to treat your new pet as an individual character and avoid making any comparisons or assumptions about his behaviour. If you have acquired a new puppy after losing a much older pet, then try to remember that your previous dog also caused a few problems and disruption at that age. Remember that you will have to do everything from scratch again – you can’t expect a new dog immediately to know your routine or be trained to the same standard. If a little ‘accident’ on the carpet automatically reduces you to tears, then it is possible that you aren’t really ready for a new dog and will have to make adjustments to compensate. Remember that you won’t necessarily bond with the new dog straight away, so don’t expect too much too soon. It may take weeks, months or even years before you can feel even half as much love for this dog as you did for your previous one.

Too painful to do it all again?

If you feel that you cannot bear to go through the pain of losing another dog one day, then try to consider that this time of pain is very short compared to the years of wonderful companionship that a dog can provide you with. However, if you are adamant about this but would still like to have dogs in your life, then there are alternatives. Perhaps you could offer to walk a neighbour’s dog, volunteer at a local rehoming centre or you could become a friend of our centre  Perhaps this way, in time, you will feel ready again to welcome another dog into your life.

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Did you know?

  • If never spayed or neutered - a female dog, her mate and their puppies could produce over 66,000 dogs in 6 years!

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