Tails of a Dog Therapist – Episode Eighteen

How guilty do your dogs make you feel about things that you do? Is it really them making you feel guilty or is it you making them feel bad?

I have had this conversation with a couple of clients recently. There have been things happening in their houses that mean that the dogs have been left a bit longer than usual, or the dogs routines have had to change and their words were ‘they just make me feel so guilty’.

I completely get it, I really do. When I worked full time I used to refuse to make plans on my days off because I didn’t want to leave my dogs home alone for a day longer than I needed to. I’m still a nightmare now, I’m here with my dogs more than I’ve ever been yet I still feel guilty if I go out and leave them for any purpose other than work. Work pays the bills and keeps a roof over their heads so that’s ok, but if it’s for anything else I actually find myself apologising to them and promising that I’ll be home more tomorrow and will spend time with them then.

This might make me feel better but all it does is upset my dogs. You see they don’t really care about the fact that I leave them, they usually get over it pretty quickly and then just celebrate when I’m back. But on the days when I’ve apologised and left feeling guilty I’ve returned to destroyed beds, toileting on the floor or complaints from Kev about how consistent their barking has been all day.

This is because the last things my dogs have felt from me is a negative emotion, one of sadness, guilt, even frustration at the fact that I’ve had to leave them again. Although they understand the emotion that I’m sending out they don’t understand why I’m feeling like that and it then causes them upset and worry because they don’t know where I could be or what I could be doing that would make me feel like that.

Imagine someone you love walking out of the house when they’re upset and all you want to do is go after them and check they’re ok but you can’t. For starters you don’t know where they’ve gone and secondly you’re shut in the house with no way of getting out. How worried and stressed would you be?

This is what we do to our dogs on a daily basis, not just when we go out but any time that we feel a negative emotion around anything that we do with them. I’ve had a client tell me this week that their dog doesn’t enjoy walks with them like they do with me. When I reviewed it with her it became apparent that she was seeing the walks as a chore. It was just another job she had to do in her already busy day rather than something that she wanted to do. Now imagine going out and doing something with a friend who makes it obvious that they don’t really want to be there. Would you be enjoying it?

When I discuss these things with people I always get the same response, ‘Ok so I need to act more positive when I do……’

No you actually need to FEEL more positive when you do whatever it is you’re doing.

You see, your heart gives out an electromagnetic frequency that is 5000x stronger than the one given out by your brain, that is what is telling your dog how you’re feeling at any given moment and that’s the part you can’t fake. You can paint a smile on your face after the worst day at work and pretend to your family that your not dying inside but your dog will always know how you really feel.

So next time you’re shutting them in their crate or they’re looking at you as you close the front door, just remember to do it with all the happiness your heart can muster. They have a good life and you give them everything they could ever want and need and that means you’re a pretty cool pet parent and they’re very lucky to have you so try not to beat yourself up over it.