Pets are a source of simple joy in our lives, and it can be very emotionally difficult when they’re not there any more. It can be even harder if it feels like people don’t understand how much our pets meant to us.

If your dog died, it’s normal to experience intense grief or loneliness. Different things help different people, but we have some advice on how to cope with losing a dog.


Stay active

If you’re used to taking the dog out for regular walks, you might find yourself going out less when your dog is no longer around. Try to keep walking, rather than sitting and dwelling at the times you used to walk the dog. Exercise and time in nature are both good for mental wellbeing, and a pleasant walk may leave you feeling refreshed.

If it’s emotionally difficult to walk in the same places you used to take your dog, look for interesting new walking routes.


Put your memories into words

Finding other things to focus on can be helpful, but sometimes it also helps to give yourself permission to think about your dog, rather than constantly trying to distract yourself.

Reminisce about your dog with other people who loved it, or people who understood the bond you had. If you feel you don’t have anyone to talk to, your vet may be able to recommend a bereavement service.

Try writing down the mannerisms that made your pet unique. Did your dog run around in circles whenever it was about to be fed? Did it sneak under the covers with you when you were sleeping? For a more ambitious project, you could turn this list into a scrapbook with photographs.

Grieving a dog can sometimes be tied up in the fear of eventually forgetting the pet you’re grieving. By putting your memories into words, you can help to preserve them. Later, you’ll be able to look back at your dog’s odd habits and smile fondly at the memory.


Hold a ceremony or create a memorial

It can be hard to know what to do when your dog dies. There’s no obligation to hold any sort of ceremony, but you may find it helps if you’re struggling with a lack of closure.

This ceremony doesn’t have to be religious; it can take whatever form feels most meaningful to you. It may be a burial, a tree planting, or simply a gathering where you and the other people who knew your pet share your memories.


Pick up a new hobby

If you’re finding it hard to deal with your emotions, it can help to have a creative outlet for them. A lot of people cope with grief by creating art, by playing music, by writing fiction or poetry.

If you already have a creative hobby, you might find that it helps when you’re grieving the loss of a dog. If you don’t, it might be a good time to pick one up. Hobbies take time to master, but learning a new skill is a great way to keep yourself busy in a difficult time.


Consider a new pet, if you’re ready

Give yourself time to come to terms with the loss of a dog. We can’t tell you how much time you’ll need; it varies from person to person.

Once you’ve had time to absorb your loss, though, you may find yourself thinking of getting another pet. If you feel ready to welcome someone else into your life, having a new companion to love can help with grief after losing a dog.

Remember that the new pet won’t be a replica of the dog who died. Every pet has its own appearance, its own personality, its own mannerisms. But it’s a pleasure to learn a new pet’s personality, even if it’s not the one you miss.

If you’re getting a new dog, it’s often a good idea to get a different breed. If the dog looks too similar to the one you miss, the ways in which it’s different will be harder to cope with.

If you feel trapped in the past when grieving the loss of a pet dog, it can help to start something new. A new pet can help to liven up a home that feels too quiet, and getting to know it will give you something positive to focus on.

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