Dog Mom Guilt is No Joke
No one adopts a pet expecting to suck at being a pet owner.
How hard can it be? So many people do it.
And you weren’t going to be like those crap dog moms out there. You did your research. You did everything Google said to do, and you nailed it.
Except maybe the part about the ideal diet. The vet-recommended food that came in a can seemed like enough. But that ad on YT said….
And brushing their teeth every day? Who does that?
Walks twice a day. Checked that box. Except that time it was raining for three days straight. Maybe skipping one is okay. Or is that just the fast track to weight problems, anxiety, and rebellion?
Maybe this dog will need therapy. Maybe you’ll both need therapy. Shit...
Take a deep breath.
Being Perfect Isn’t Realistic
Adjusting our expectations seems a lot like accepting what shouldn’t be acceptable as long as it’s good enough. But who set the bar in the first place?
Who decided that being a good dog mom meant transforming pasture-raised beef and organic veg into gourmet puppy chow twice a day?
That frolicking in wildflowers after a half-day hike is a totally reasonable alternative to a quick walk or three around the block?
Life is hard. Frozen burritos pass for dinner. And some people are allergic to fucking pollen.
Social media is a sonofabitch. Another way to put that is comparison is the thief of joy.
When we only have a glimpse into the most manufactured-for-public-consumption moments of another pet owner’s day… we suddenly feel less than. Not good enough.
But perfection doesn’t happen IRL. If you’re making progress and doing your best, then trust that you’re handling your shit like a boss.
Next time your dog starts wiggling its little butt so hard you’re worried it will break something… all because you put on your shoes and grabbed the leash… switch up that internal dialogue.
Wondering how to be the best dog mom ever? Spoiler alert: at least one dog thinks that you already are. Own it.
Self-Care Matters for Dog Owners
Does the idea of self-care seem kinda selfish? It’s not. Taking care of your own mental and physical wellness will ensure that you’re ready to show up for your dog.
They’re intuitive little buggers and they know when you’re not running on a full tank. If you’ve been putting yourself last for so long that you don’t know where to start, look to your pup for inspiration.
Live in the moment. Nap like it’s your job. Prioritize play. Embrace curiosity. Teach yourself new tricks. Get dirty. Relish that piece of cake. Chase your tail. Just close the blinds first.
Dogs Need Alone Time, Too
Getting a new dog is a lot like the beginning of any new relationship. It’s thrilling to get to know each other’s quirks, make new memories, and spend every second together.
Then the novelty wears off. And that’s okay. Here’s what you are responsible for as a good dog owner:
Food and water
Safety and security
Love and acceptance
What’s not on the list? You’re not expected to be a constant source of entertainment. You’re not required to stand watch 24/7. Your life does not revolve around your dog. Because that would be weird and totally unreasonable.
No one needs round the clock stimulation and social interaction. Not even dogs.
No more guilt-tripping over leaving for work (or closing the door to WFH), running errands, or zoning out to crappy reality TV. Your dog is intelligent, resourceful, and perfectly capable of entertaining themself for a few hours.
An added benefit is that when time is segmented, it’s easier to stay present. If playtime is all about playtime (and only playtime) it will be that much more enjoyable for you both. Quality beats quantity, always.
Find Your People
Trust. They’re out there.
COVID has made the world feel incredibly small. But it’s also expanded our access exponentially. Sharing stories, asking for help, and giving help back is a reminder that we actually don’t suck at this.
Dog mom guilt is totally real. A little is not a bad thing as long as it’s not all-consuming… it just means that you care. That’s allowed to be enough for now.