How to Know if It’s Time to Get Another Dog


If your dog died suddenly, you may still feel shocked and confused. Here’s how to know if it’s too soon to think about getting another dog.

should I adopt a dogA reader recently shared that her dog suddenly died, and she’s struggling to decide if it’s too soon to adopt another dog.

“I lost my 9 month old boxer puppy suddenly to a seizure, and I’ve been feeling really guilty about it,” said Ashley. “There was nothing I could do about it. My dog died in my arms this morning and I cant stop thinking about him. I really want another dog but I’m feeling really guilty about getting another dog as I loved my boxer with all my heart. I feel very guilty about loving another dog that isn’t him. At the same time I want a dog really badly after the wonderful times I’ve had with my boxer. Do you think I should get another dog?”





There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but here are a few things to consider…

Should You Get a Dog After Your Dog Died?

You don’t have to be 100% healed before you adopt another dog, but you should give yourself time to mourn your loss. Your dog’s sudden death is a traumatic, sad, and even life-changing event. It’s important to work through the early phases of mourning before you start a new relationship with another animal.

Remember that different people heal from their dog’s death in different ways. Some people may need days or weeks to mourn, while others may think forever is “too soon” to get a dog.

If you know someone who lost a dog, read Sympathy Gifts for Dog Lovers After Their Dog Died.

Remember that you’re not betraying your dog who died

Timing is everything when considering whether to get a new pet,” writes Wallace Sife in The Loss of a Pet.

should you get a dog“You must be ready for the new relationship, or both you and the new pet may suffer because of your underlying resentment. We could be hesitant or even fearful because it feels like betrayal to the deceased pet, even though it isn’t.”

Getting another dog isn’t betraying the dog you loved, so there’s no need to feel guilty. Guilt is for when you do something wrong, and you didn’t do anything wrong when your dog was alive! You took excellent care of him. Now that he’s gone, you yearn for another dog because dogs are a wonderful source of unconditional love and fun. T

here’s nothing wrong with getting another dog soon after your dog died suddenly – and there’s nothing wrong with waiting for a few months to pass.



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If you can’t get rid of guilt because of your dog’s sudden death, you may find How to Cope With Guilt After Your Pet Dies helpful.

Figure out if the timing is right for you – not other people

How do you know if you should get another dog? By making sure the timing is right for you. Don’t let other people talk you into or out of getting another dog, or say it’s too soon to get one. You may not be 100% sure of your own readiness to get another dog after your dog suddenly died, but you can do certain things that will help you know if you’re ready. One of the main things are your own gut feelings. Another is to walk other people’s dogs.

Walk other dogs – a good test to see if it’s too soon to get another dog

Do your friends, family members, coworkers, or neighbors have dogs? Ask if you can take the dog for a walk. How do you feel when you’re walking the dog? If you can’t stop crying or have extreme feelings of depression, guilt, anger, or resentment, then maybe it’s too soon to get another dog. But if you feel okay – maybe not 100% happy because you’re probably reminded of your dog who died – then you might be ready for the next step…

Visit an animal shelter or dog rescue

Don’t commit to adopting a dog yet – you’re just looking around. Do not allow yourself to be tempted to go home with a dog. This first visit to an animal shelter is about testing the waters and tuning in to how you feel. You’re still coping with your dog’s death — and if you make a hasty, impulsive decision to get another dog, you  may regret it. The first visit to a shelter may be too soon to get another dog.

If you’re devastated about your dog’s death, read What to Do When Your Dog Dies.

Write down your feelings after you visit the dog shelter

“Write your feelings down, and read them again at another time,” says Sife in The Loss of a Pet. “Share them with a trusted friend. What new feelings are you beginning to have now or after the visit? Did you retain a strong memory of any of the animals you saw?” Feeling drawn to other dogs isn’t a betrayal of your dog who died – it’s a sense of compassion and kinship with a homeless, lovable animal.

If you feel indecisive about getting another dog, or if you think it’s too soon to get another dog, don’t do it yet. Wait until you feel mostly positive and peaceful about adopting another dog.

how to heal after losing your petAre you struggling to cope with the death of your pet? Read How to Heal Your Heart After Losing a Pet: 75 Ways to Cope With Grief and Guilt When Your Dog or Cat Dies. It’s an ebook I wrote to help people grieve and heal.

I’ve grieved the loss of two dogs and four cats. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain, so I read a dozen books on dealing with pet loss. The books I read weren’t as helpful as I hoped, so I interviewed several grief experts, veterinarians, and pet owners about losing a pet. Then I gathered the most valuable tips for coping with grief and guilt after a pets’ death, and created How to Heal Your Heart After Losing Your Pet.

Do you have any thoughts on your dog’s sudden death, or if it’s too soon to get another dog? Please comment below.







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3 thoughts on “How to Know if It’s Time to Get Another Dog

  • Rebecca

    My Shalom is a rescue dog but really he rescued me. I got him in 2004 he is my best friend

    He came neutered house broke so loving kind dog that was sensitive if I was hurt he would cry when we went somewhere he was right with me and be real protective if he felt uncomfortable he was like in real life Lassy like the dog you see on TV

    I’m not ready to adopt another dog. Your article about a dog dying was so good. You are right it’s not fair to let them suffer what you said really spoke to my heart.

    As everything that you shared has been difficult to hear however truth sets us free helps us make right decisions for our precious Best friends who happened to be my dog my shalom is suffering and he’s uncomfortable seems like everything about him since he’s old he has is trouble walking his eyes have cataracts on them , he breathes in a panting sort of way sometimes everything is okay but in his back legs he doesn’t jump on the couch anymore he steps on the account and it is a blacklegs have trouble it’s horrible to watch because he’s in so much pain plus he has arthritis or something like that can hardly move sometimes and sometimes his falls on the ground and he’s gained a lot of weight and bloated and also appears that he has tumors this is really hard to let go but your words are perfectly said its time to let go, and he sleeping like he’s having a seizure.

    Now I know he’s in misery not comfortable thank you for sharing truth can hold onto after he’s gone, and I will get the right one again and lI love my shalom thank you this be hard but I’m going to do it I know it’s the right thing to do for him thank you for your advice thank you so much

  • Laurie Post author

    Oh Terry, I’m so sorry I missed your comment! I don’t know how it slipped through.

    How is it going with Chooch? I’d love an update.

  • Terry

    I’m not sure if making a comment at this point will be helpful to anyone, but I am feeling so depressed, I figure it can’t hurt. My Springer Spaniel, Tucker, was 9 years old, and died suddenly of adenocarcinoma (cancer of the anal sac). I truly had not seen symptoms. This Thanksgving morning, I woke up and knew something was wrong when he wasn’t at the bottom of the stairs waiting for me. I live with my husband, 2 boys (16 and 23), and a 90 year old father. Tucker has been a constant companion to my dad and was a big part of our family. When he went outside that morning, I could tell he was straining to go potty. I was all over the internet trying to find a natural diuretic (I did read about canned pumpkin). Anyway, I did mix pumpkin, milk, and a little sugar in a bowl. He wanted no part of it, and he is/was usually a terrific eater. By 1:00 that afternoon, I knew he needed to be seen. I went to the vet, and after a lenghthy wait (which I knew couldn’t be a good sign), I was called in to talk to the vet. The vet said that it appeared as though he had a mass in one of his anal sacs. She needed to do further testing, but it also seemed as though he had some swelling in his belly as well. She said best case scenario was that the swelling was due to compacted feces, and surgery could remove the tumor with treatment dependent on whether tumor was benign or malignant. Vet also intended to do bloodwork looking for elevated blood calcium levels which would be an indicator of malignancy. I left Tucker at the vet, and went home to wait for her call. Got the call and the bad news. He was not a candidate for surgery, and we could decide in the morning whether we wanted to bring him home for whatever time he had left or relieve his suffering there. It was a bad Thanksgiving! In the end, I didn’t even have to make a decision about the next morning. I got a call at 1:00 am, saying that after receiving pain meds, Tucker closed his eyes and went to sleep – forever.
    All that being said, leads up to the day after Thanksgiving. My 16 yr old son deals with loss (I am finding out) with a “let’s distract ourselves,” so my son begged to go to the local SPCA. I was worried that my dad would be without his companion, and thought that going to the SPCA would help us see the positive possibilities of loving another dog (I hate to even use that word “dog” – it sounds so demeaning). As my luck would have it, there were only about 4 dogs at the time. Wouldn’t you know that one of them was young, friendly, and handsome! What were the odds? This dog had been lost, so there was not much known about him, but he was thought to be a catahoula leopard dog. He was guessed to be about a 1 1/2 years old. I asked the handler if there were applications on him, and he said he thought there were a couple. My son was excited about the dog, and I think I was still in shock. Anyway, I figured what could it hurt to put in an application. Well, I filled out my application, and the next thing I knew the attendant said, “That will be 58.00 dollars.” I said, “For what?” and she said “The dog is yours!” I was shocked, and looked at my son. He was thrilled, and said, “Yes!” I have no idea who inhabited my body at that point, but I left the SPCA with “Chooch.”
    So, today is the Saturday after Thanksgiving and “Chooch” is now “Hunter.” I have done some research on the breed, and know he is intelligent, and needs to be active. I am scared about not really knowing him, nervous about the work he will require and hoping his personality will be a good fit for our family – for our sake, and HIS. My 90 year old dad loves him already, but I am so worried Hunter will misread my sadness and grief for Tucker as sadness and uncertainty for him. Woe is me!!! I do feel better just getting this off my chest, however. What do you think?