I hurt my dog. I accidentally hurt my dog. I did not do it on purpose, not because I am a bad dog mom, but I feel horrific when something happens to my dog in my care. There are things that dog parents do that we internalize, repeat over and over in our heads, and just cannot seem to “shake” off. If you’ve ever accidentally hurt your dog or your dog was injured in your care (or nearly), I know exactly how you feel.
Will my dog still love me because I: ________ (fill in the blank for something crappy that happened, no matter how big or small, yet you feel to blame.) You feel to blame because it happened to your dog, the one you worship and cherish more than life itself.
The blame game is a pretty crappy companion: In fact, the blame game is one in which you, the offender, loses time and again. I know because this feeling recently thwarted itself into my life.
Here’s the (fidose of) reality of it all: Dogs do remember – look at dogs who have been abused – the propensity for a dog to forgive and look past is amazing. Have you ever seen a video of a dog who is sprung from a shelter because someone “rescued” him or her? Many times, their tails are wagging. Dogs are that much better than human beings, truly.
However, if you are a loving person who makes a mistake that ends up harming your dog in some way, harboring guilt and dubbing yourself a bad dog parent helps no one. So don’t do it. Read on. Great dog parents sometimes do really crappy things by accident: It’s called being a human being.
ONE CAVEAT: There are things you should NEVER EVER EVER do to a dog (any pet) and do NOT qualify for “oops, I did not mean it.” These things include, but are not limited to:
- Hitting a dog/Spanking a dog
- Forcing a dog to do something that causes them extreme distress (i.e. dog fighting, pushing a dog into a dark room and closing the door, things that are sick and twisted)
- Putting a device on your dog that causes harm
- Wiping a dog’s nose/face in feces because “that’ll teach ’em not to do it again”
These are but a few behaviors that are so abhorrent that if you do any of them, please stop having a dog in your life.
Again, things never to do and do not qualify as “oops, I didn’t mean it”
- Hitting a dog
- Forcing dog to do something he or she doesn’t want
- Choke or shock collars
- Wiped nose in crap
- Punishing a dog by not feeding him or her for a bad behavior
- Emotional abuse of a dog
How do I know about some of these twisted things? As a writer/reporter, I have interviewed thousands of people in my lifetime: These are some of the behaviors that certain people find normal. They are not normal. They will never be normal. So get a plant or a pet rock instead if you find any of the above to be normal.
CLICK THIS: Why You Should Never Spank or Hit a Dog
How to Get Past Guilt Trips
Recently, my wife and I were shopping at a local strip mall. One of the stores welcomed well-behaved dogs, so in we went, Cocker in tow. A sign in front of the store kept falling over due to high winds, and our dog, a loving and friendly pooch, became frightened.
My wife took him out front to wait while I went to the checkout to pay for our items. The next thing I know, the dog is running out into the middle of the parking lot: A very busy Saturday in a parking lot. My wife is running after him. I drop my purchases and take off for the door.
Our dog heard the sign fall again and it scared him the way fireworks do: It was very loud. He took off out of fear and pulled so hard that my wife dropped the leash, a padded handle, not a Flexi-leash….she was taken off guard.
Nothing happened, but it set the tone for our day. We were both shook up. Our dog, fortunately, was unscathed. In fact, he ran TO our vehicle in the parking lot. He remembered our car and where it was parked.
I cannot begin to tell you how upset we were. It really shook us up. It was an accident. We kept reminding ourselves that the dog is okay, nothing happened, and we learned a lesson from it all: Be mega prepared at all times. And mistakes happen. Even to dog lovers of the highest order.
Are You Struggling With a Doggie Guilt Trip?
You need to tell your mind a different story than the one it is currently reading. First, literally write down all the awesome things you do for your dog. This can include everything from going on walks, to taking a trip together, to making sure he is well fed, loved, etc. Make that list. Refer to it every time you feel guilty. Ever single time.
Forgive yourself. It’s easier said than done, right?! You need to let it go because otherwise it will eat you up and take time away from the bond you share with your dog. Here’s a quote you can tell yourself: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.” ~Lewis B. Smedes
Do something good with your dog that makes you (and your pup) feel wonderful! Go for an ice cream, play at the park, give Fido a tummy rub, get a new toy and play a game. Whatever it takes, re-program your brain.
You Are Not Alone
No matter what the circumstance, somewhere, someone, has done something that caused harm in some way to someone else. If you do it on purpose, get help. Seek intervention. If you caused an accident, you are a human being. We cannot be everywhere at all times and hold ourselves accountable when an accident occurs. That’s why they are called accidents.
Our blogging pal, Melissa Clinton, penned a blog post about dog parents who make mistakes.
Have you ever done something to your pet that made you feel lousy? Remember, you aren’t alone, you aren’t human, and your dog loves you.