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Overcoming Guilt About Getting a New Dog After You've Lost One

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

The loss of a family member can be devastating. And, with your dog, it's no different. They are part of your family.

While your dog was amazingly important, you may miss the benefits and joys they brought to your daily life. After the grieving period, it's normal and OK to consider getting another one.

feeling guilty about replacing the dog that died

You should not feel guilty about the prospect of “replacing” your most adored dog. Let’s talk about that.

Take Your Time Before Getting a New Dog in Place of the One You Lost

You’ve lost your friend. It’s okay to grieve.

The University of Washington’s Counseling Center advises:

“Persistent, traumatic grief can cause us to cycle (sometimes quickly) through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. These stages are our attempts to process change and protect ourselves while we adapt to a new reality. While there are consistent elements within each stage, the process of grieving looks different for everyone.”

People make the mistake of getting a new dog before they have finished grieving for their previous one. People may struggle with the grief process. They are crushed by the loss and are unable to let go of the memories.

Talking with and being among people who understand may also help; professional grief counselors and pet loss support groups can work wonders. No one, however, should be hurried through this process.

Some of us adore our pets and have particular, one-of-a-kind bonds with them. Dogs are irreplaceable in our eyes. We need patience and compassion to recover from the loss before we can love another dog.

Make no rash decisions. Allow yourself some time to think. Don't let someone hurry you into a tough choice or put you under pressure to make a decision that isn't appropriate for you.

Some friends may suggest things like, "It's time to move on, you've got to do something with your life, get over it - he was only a dog, why not get another one?"

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A spouse, friend, or family member may even try to "help you forget" by purchasing a puppy for you. You may kindly remind them that you do not wish to forget those who have passed on; they shall be remembered for the rest of your life.

If the dog was a family dog, then consider making the choice to by a new one collectively. Discuss as a household what everyone's thinking.

Be Semi-Clairvoyant

Yes, you can keep yourself occupied while still dealing with your grief.

Try to imagine how your life would be without your dog. Have you put off any ambitions or plans given the care your preceding dog required?

Perhaps now is the time for that extended vacation or sabbatical. Is your house in need of repairs or renovations? It may be the right moment to reconsider past intentions related to careers or education.

It is preferable to make any necessary lifestyle modifications before bringing a new dog into your home. You can select a dog that is suitable for your healthier routine if and when the time comes.

Choosing Your Next Dog

When you believe the moment is right, you may undertake the process of selecting the ideal dog. Avoid the temptation to bring home the first dog you see. Determine the age, temperament, energy level, and size of your perfect dog. Decide what elements are most and least significant to you.

Don't expect your new pet to be exactly like your last one. Your new dog may have peculiarities and a distinct personality. You'll need to form an entirely new bond with him or her as he or she will react differently and have distinct features, so enjoy watching it grow.

Remember that your previous companion was once a puppy that was not house-trained and was destructive and rebellious before growing out of that period.

Consider how you may honor or memorialize your pet, or how you can help other animals by fostering a new companion or working for an animal rescue organization.

Don't try to replace the void with a new puppy right away. Alternatively, wait until you are at peace with the death of your prior dog. It's essential to be in a location where you can process your sorrow without it taking over your life.

Don't Let Guilt Stop You From Bonding with Your New Pet

You are a person with emotions. Your dog was extremely important to you. However, your new dog requires your attention as well.

If you adore a particular breed of dog, acquire another of that same ilk. However, consider the emotional, financial, and physical costs to you and the pet. You must be emotionally prepared to go through potential challenges again, and if you are not, you should explore a breed that has few long-term health issues.

To prevent comparisons, some individuals pick a dog that is very different from their former pet, so they are not continually reminded of their loss. Others choose to get one that looks like their previous dog since it helps them feel warm on the inside.

Consider what sort of dog will fit in with your current family members, both two and four-legged. Is there room in your house and yard for another dog? Do you already have a large or small dog and wish to add another of the same or opposite size?

Do you have time to take another dog for a walk, feed it, and play with it? Can you afford the extra cost of caring for them? Is your existing dog physically capable of interacting with a puppy, or would an older, more calm dog be a better canine companion?

We sometimes forget how much work goes into obtaining a new pet. Make sure you're prepared to invest the time, energy, and money required to give it a happy life.

The unfortunate and often terrible reality of bringing a dog into our house is that we will ultimately lose them. A dog's lifespan is never long enough, and while they will be alongside us for the remainder of their lives, it will never seem like enough time.

To overcome the guilt of losing one pet, you must remember that moving forward doesn't mean you've forgotten about them. Each animal has its own personality, and a new animal can't replace the one you've lost. After allowing yourself time to grieve and paying close attention to your feelings, you'll know when it's right to add another member of the family to your home.

Jenna and the JLDD Team

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