How to Avoid Dog Parent Guilt

by Hannah Roundy

“I feel bad leaving my dog at home alone. What should I do?”

Dog parenting guilt is real! You might feel it when your dog flashes their puppy eyes before you leave the house or when they anxiously whine in the vet’s office. Learn how to avoid dog parent guilt and practice mindfulness when it comes to your pup. 

Reasons Why Dog Parents Feel Guilty

Feeling guilty as a dog parent is absolutely normal. When your dog is anxious or upset, you may feel insecure about your ability to take care of them. Dog parenting guilt can even arise out of nowhere and make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. 

Here are a few reasons why you might experience dog parent guilt:

  • Leaving your dog home alone (regularly or for any period of time)
  • Hearing your dog whine or whimper
  • Missing their daily walk or exercise time 
  • Overreacting when they misbehave
  • Telling them “no”
  • Accidentally stepping on your dog
  • Giving them less attention after having a baby or bringing home another dog
  • Seeing your dog sick or injured
  • Going on vacation without your dog 
  • Frustration with training and behavior correction
  • Feeling like you generally aren’t giving them enough attention 

If you feel like a bad pet parent sometimes, you aren’t alone. A survey showed that out of 2000 pet parents, 59% felt like they weren’t spending as much time with their pets as they’d like to. More than half of these pet parents also felt guilty for missing walks due to bad weather or seeing their dogs injured or sick. 

Dog parent guilt isn’t really a bad thing. In fact, it probably means you are doing something right. Pet parents have to do things their dog doesn’t like to keep them healthy, like nail trimming, vet visits, bathtime, and brushing their teeth. 

Why do I feel bad leaving my dog at home?

Leaving the house without your dog is a tough task for pet parents. Dogs provide companionship, unconditional love, and emotional support. It’s hard to leave that support behind, even if you’re just running out for a quick errand.  

“I feel bad leaving my dog at home” is a very common feeling because we can’t communicate the details of our departure with them. Humans and dogs don’t speak the same language, so they can’t understand how long you’ll be gone or where you are going.

Some pet parents don’t like to leave their dog home alone because they are anxious something will happen to them. Hypothetical situations can mess with your head and make you feel like you are abandoning your pup. 

Although it would be so reassuring to have your dog with you 24/7, it’s not practical for most people. That’s why it’s important to learn how to avoid dog parent guilt and cope with those feelings. 

5 Ways to Stop Feeling Dog Parent Guilt

Tell your dog “I love you.”

The next time you feel the pet parent blues, stop and take a moment to tell your dog “I love you.” It’s such an easy way to slow down and remember that you are doing your best to show love to your pup. There’s even science to prove that dogs love hearing how much you love them! A study showed that dogs’ heart rates increased by 46% after hearing “I love you” and they recognized the positive attention they were receiving. 

Create a safe, welcoming space for your dog. 

If you leave the house for long periods of time, try to make your dog as comfortable as possible. Set out a bowl of water, plenty of chew toys, soft dog bed or blanket, and try turning on some soothing music for them to listen to. Learn how to create a comfortable environment for your pup with dog organization ideas from a feng shui expert on our blog

Cry when you need to. 

It’s unhealthy to ignore the emotions you are feeling, no matter how unpleasant they are. Sometimes dog parenting guilt gets so intense that you may start to cry. Take a moment to yourself to release those emotions and have a good cry. Remember that these feelings will pass and open yourself up to the happy emotions you feel with your dog. 

Take your dog for a walk or run. 

The best way to make it up to your dog is to go for a little stroll. Dogs have a much smaller mindset than humans and they focus on the present rather than the past. They are more focused on discovering new smells than dwelling on the past. A walk can also be a beneficial change of scenery for you to reset your mind and stress less. 

Plan a doggy date night. 

Treat your dog to a whole day or night dedicated to activities you love to do together. Make a dinner reservation at a restaurant that welcomes dogs. If you live on the coast, find the best dog-friendly beaches to splash around in. You can even just stay home, spoil them with Sundays food, and hours of snuggle time.

Try Healthy, Easy Sundays