Signs You’re Ready to Adopt a Dog

Should you adopt a dog? When you’re ready, you’ll recognize the signs. Here are a few things to consider before adopting a puppy – these are the signs I knew it was time for us to adopt a puppy to “replace” the one we lost.

Signs You're Ready to Adopt a DogWe’re reading books like How Dogs Think: What the World Looks Like to Them and Why They Act the Way They Do. Dogs really are amazing, and the more we learn about them, the better we’ll take care of them. This book helps dog owners understand the silly, quirky, and apparently irrational behaviors that dogs demonstrate, as well as those stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity that dogs also can display. It lets you see through a dog’s eyes, hear through his ears, and even sense the world through his nose.

Before we go into the signs you should adopt a dog, read one of my favorite pet quotations: “Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” ~ Mary Bly. We now have both a dog and a cat…and I think the cat is training the dog to take messages for her. :-)

Okay, on to the highs and lows of dog adoption and puppy ownership…

Are You Ready to Adopt a Dog?

In How to Decide if You Should Give Your Dog Away, I describe how and why we surrendered our big black lab/German shepherd to the Vancouver SPCA. We adopted her from the SPCA, and just couldn’t meet her needs (I couldn’t handle her – she was too big, powerful, and strong!). Surrendering her to the SPCA was the most painful decision I have ever made. We cried almost the whole day. She cried when they put her back in her cage. I finally stopped crying a month after we gave her back…and after six months, I still feel so sad that she’s gone.

I was nervous about telling the SPCA that we surrendered a dog six months ago, and want to adopt another puppy! But, the SPCA lady said that it just wasn’t a right fit. She said most people don’t try again (and I don’t blame them – it was a very difficult decision to make).

Thankfully, adopting Georgie was the right decision. These are the reasons I knew we should adopt another dog after the first one didn’t work out…

All the reasons I wanted a dog were still valid

I work from home, we don’t have kids, and I want more joy, love, and life in my house! Our cat is a living creature, but a dog…there’s just no comparison to the exuberance and joy a dog brings. And, I want to train a dog to do pet visitation with me in seniors’ homes and hospitals.

After I wrote about pet loss, I was stunned at how much people love their dogs and how much they miss them after they leave this earth. I really wanted to experience that bond, that type of love.

Our first dog, Jazz, wasn’t right for us. Since the idea and allure of dog ownership was still strong, I knew we should get another dog.

I felt ready to get another dog

“[If you lost your dog], I don’t recommend you rush to adopt another pet immediately,” says animal chaplain Sid Korpi, author of Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss. “It’s unfair to the new dog or cat if you unconsciously try to ‘replace’ the one you lost. You won’t be able to see and appreciate her for the individual being she is. Instead, you’re likely to draw unrealistic comparisons to the former pet, and this may keep you from bonding as fully as you would if you waited until you properly mourned. Everyone takes a different amount of time to feel ‘ready.’”

She adds that it’s important not to let anyone rush you if you’re not sure you should get another dog. Trust your heart. If you burst into tears at the very thought of visiting a shelter to adopt a puppy, then you’re probably not ready yet.

Signs You're Ready to Adopt a DogThis is our second dog, Georgie Girl — isn’t she the cutest puppy you’ve ever seen? My husband and I had a bad first experience with our first dog (good dog, just the wrong one for us), and decided to try again. It was scary decision, but I’m so glad we took this leap of faith!

If you don’t feel ready, read My Dog Died Suddenly – Is It Too Soon to Get Another Dog?

I was scared to adopt another dog, but trusted my gut

Simply because you’re scared and anxious about getting another dog (or doing anything in life) doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do. I was so nervous and scared the day we adopted Georgie from the SPCA. I felt sick. What if I was wrong – what if there were no signs it was time to adopt another dog? What if she was as much of a handful as Jazz? What if we couldn’t handle her? There was no way I’d surrender another dog to the SPCA!

But I’ve learned to trust myself. I know that there’s a big difference between being scared to do something, and letting fear dictate your life. As Katherine Paterson said, “To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.”

Be grateful that different dogs have different personalities

Many readers comment on my pet loss articles, saying that they don’t think they should get another dog because they’ll compare the new to the old, lost dog. And sure, that’s bound to happen! But the good news is that there will be some ways your new dog is more suitable than your old dog. There are good and bad things about every dog…and one of the best tips for people who wonder if they should get another dog is to appreciate each dog for who it is.

If you’re grieving the death of a pet, read How to Find Peace of Mind After Putting a Dog to Sleep.

And, I think How Dogs Think: What the World Looks Like to Them and Why They Act the Way They Do should be required reading for all dog owners; it’s a fascinating glimpse into a dog’s life!

What do you think of these signs it’s time to adopt a puppy? Comments welcome below…I can’t offer advice on adopting a dog, but it may help you to share what you’re going through.


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4 thoughts on “Signs You’re Ready to Adopt a Dog”

  1. Dear Paige,

    Thank you for being here – I’m glad my experience may help you decide if you should get another dog! I LOVE my dogs — I have 2 now — and even though it involves lots of time and sacrifice, I wouldn’t want it any other way. If you want another dog, give yourself a second chance :-)

    In peace and passion,

  2. Thank you for this article; I really appreciated reading it. Three years ago I had adopted a much-anticipated puppy. Shortly after, my dream job fell in my lap, for which I had to move to another state to a house that was not equipped for my puppy. I felt terrible about the new conditions and the fact that I had to spend more time at work, so after a lot of prayer and tears I decided to surrender her. After that I began volunteering at the local shelter. For the last year or so I have been wanting a dog pretty badly (I had a dog for 11 years prior to the last one and absolutely cherished her) but hesitate because I don’t want to have the same turnout. Now I think it may be possible after all to try it again.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this article and sharing your experience. I have had a very similar experience. I bought a australian shepherd when he was just a few months old. He was just adorable and sweet. I sorta loved him, but he was a terror. I lived in a really small one bedroom apartment and he needed room to run around. He was always chewing on literally everything and his barking was just too much and he was not trainable at all. I couldn’t control him whenever I’d walk him and everything I had to take him out to pee I would try to avoid people or other dogs because he’d go nuts. Because he wasn’t a good fit I surrendered him to the SPCA and they looked at me like I was crazy for thinking he was not a good fit. But the minute they took him he started crying and I really felt guilty. I still do two years later. But about six months after I surrendered him, I decided I wanted a dog. I got an english bulldog and he is just amazing. A few months later I adopted his actual brother. The two are the perfect dogs for me.

  4. Thanks so much – my elderly dog died in May 2011 (border terrier) at 17 years old. Bought a new pup (border terrier) in July 2011 – thought it would replace him and give me a ‘fresh start'(also lost my job in May – so looking forward 2 new pup).The pup was adorable, but gave me trouble from first 2 weeks – biting (not puupyish) tried to solve – spoke to vet and engaged an animal behaviourist – he had a seizure in sept, all cleared via local university animal hospital. Should have given him back to the breeders, but tried (dont think he was ‘wired right’)
    There was no bond at all – broke my heart.