It’s a very easy thing in the twenty first century to feel guilty about almost anything...and then just as quickly find a reason not to. Feeling guilty about not going to the gym? That’s ok, you can go tomorrow - sleeping in is also taking care of your body. Feeling guilty about bailing on plans to stay in? It’s called “self care” - we have to protect our energy . Feeling guilty about *literally* anything having to do with your dog though? This one cuts deep.
Thing is, you’re not alone! There are multiple reddit threads to prove it ranging from simply “Dog mom guilt…” and “I am currently out on a Friday night and I miss my dog SO MUCH” to “my dog is in the hospital tonight and I feel so empty”. All have 100 if not almost 200 responses thus proving the feeling is widespread and mutual among many of us.
Truth is, no matter how we as humans might be feeling, our dogs probably have a different take on it. Our dogs are a lot more understanding than when we think, so let’s dive into the common guilt traps we fall into and give some perspective!
Leaving your dog at home alone for long stretches
“Ok you have your toy and I’m just going to work. I’ll be thinking about you all day, but I’ll be back at 5:15! Be a good boy and take a nap. I love you goodbye!! I’ll be back! I love you!!” is probably how most mornings before work start followed by a midday viewing on the dog cam. Dogs don’t have the same concept of time as humans though. They can tell the difference between 30 minutes versus two hours, but they can’t exactly define two hours versus four.
If you’re worried that your dog might be sad without you, make the most of their time with a fun treat or toy they love that they get to play with for the specific occasion! That way they’re happily occupied and you feel better about leaving them behind to go make money to continue to support their lifestyle.
Not going for the *longest* walk ever
This topic is directly correlated to your bandwidth. It’s not that you don’t want to throw the ball a thousand times or explore the whole city together, it’s just that you are so tired from working late and you have a birthday dinner across town to be at by 7pm.
Having a dog is fun, but it’s also an actual responsibility! They deserve time to thrive and they deserve attention, but don’t feel bad if that can’t happen 7 days a week. It’s about quality, not always about quantity. Some days you need to bring in the reigns and rest because you’re sick or need to work more at home. It helps to think about is as weekly averages not daily averages. Your dog doesn’t keep score - they’re just happy to get out and play. As long as the week or month balances out, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Not sharing food
It all starts so innocently. You just want them to get a taste of the pepperoni off your New York slice, but it quickly becomes a slippery slope into begging habits and digestive issues.
Our advice? Don’t feed your dog from the table. It’s hard, we know. Your dog doesn’t have the discernment to say no to things that might make their tummy hurt. If you’re feeling guilty and don’t want them to feel left out of the feast, feed them when you eat or put a special treat in their bowl. They’ll be distracted and you’ll get to finish your meal without the extra side of guilt.
Introducing a significant other into the equation
You might feel guilty, but adding another person into the equation doesn’t necessarily mean you are subtracting any attention from your dog because according to dogs - the more people there are the merrier!
Obviously this new someone will be a dog person, so find ways to incorporate your dog into getting to know each other. Pick date spots with dog-friendly patios, have your partner be the leash holder or let them be the treat master to ease the transition. Don’t force it on either party too fast, incremental progress is progress.
Stepping on their foot
“MY POOR BABY I’M SO SORRY!” This one’s on you. Give them treat and a hug - all better :)