Dog Guardianship Guilt
As humans we do all have a cross to bear of our own and no-one is free from intentional or unintentional psyche issues gathered from the people around us when we were growing up. Before the age of seven we are little learning machines, and our brains do two things:
- They believe everything they are told without question.
- They blame us for everything that happens around us.
What does this have to do with dogs I hear you say?
Well, it has a lot to do with dog guardianship because of dog guardianship guilt – a phenomenon I’m seeing more and more of and recognising because I have it too. Domestic dogs are in the eye of science, those of us who want to keep learning about them are starting to question the ethics of keeping animals. We question their choices, their capacity to live natural lives within our four walls, we question whether they like what they eat and where they sleep.
Most of all though, the thing I see continually is we question ourselves and whether we do enough with and for them.
The thing about this kind of guilt is that it’s a useless, yet crippling emotion. It can lead us to doing more and more with our dogs in case they are bored, dissatisfied, sad or depressed. It can lead to us doing more with them than they need or want. It can lead us to project our guilty thoughts onto them and assuming they want us to be interacting or playing, even if they are just glancing our way, checking what we are up to and that it’s the right time for them to relax. Dog guardianship guilt can flaw a perfectly lovely relationship with our dogs, by adding unnecessary pressure, where there need not be any.
There’s a common belief in human psychology that any issue we have today is 20% now and 80% set in the past. So, if you do feel guilty about your dog’s life, it might be worth remembering that.
The reality of the situation is likely to be this. Your dog has a fantastic life with you and has dropped lucky. You are already more aware than many dog guardians who still consider themselves owners and their dogs as the pet. You have a monkey mind (just as we all do) and that monkey mind can be a cruel and nasty voice in your head who tells lies. Take a look at your dog right now, do they look hard done to? I bet the answer is no.
Then give yourself a break.