I recently had a breakthrough around my Guilt, and i think it is relevant to how we interact with our dogs as well.
I have big goals, and am attracted to so many awesome projects happening in the amazing Bay Area. So i tend to have a super busy schedule.
Because my job revolves around dog care, Pepa gets plenty of stimulation. So my Guilt doesn’t manifest with my dog so much.
Instead it comes up around my relationships with people. Friendships and romantic relationships are where i tend to feel guilty for not putting enough of my energy. If the relationship is about to fall apart, I’m all on it. If we need to talk and feel bad about how busy i am, I’m all on it. Well that just feels crappy, and isn’t a sustainable dynamic.
The same goes for guilt in our canine relationships… When the dog has acted out so badly that the we’re is forced to do something, we’ll put energy into it. And so many people are content to spend a bunch of time feeling bad and talking sad about what they need to change about their dog’s life, and all the reasons they’re not able to.
We get comfortable in the Guilt stage. Then we make exceptions to the training protocol, to feel less guilty. And we spend a bunch of energy dealing with the fallout from these exceptions.
My breakthrough came in adjusting how i deal with my Guilt. I’m still busy as hell. But i don’t spend time putting this guilt into my relationships. I’m making a conscious effort to instead spend the limited time i put into relationships in a positive and enriching manner only.
In the case of my human relationships, this means being present and positive when i DO finally have time to hang out. It means not spending time feeling crappy, or processing crappy feelings, about something that i won’t actually change. It means high quality interactions and positive dynamics!
In dog terms, it means taking those guilty feelings and turning them into quality time with your dog, and quality planning. Why layer the guilt of not following training protocol on top of the guilt of not having enough time for your dog? And if you have limited energy to put into your dog, why set yourself up to spend that energy working on the fallout from not following the training protocol?
When you DO have time to spend on your dog, if you spend it in ways that enrich your dog’s life (not just temporarily relieve your guilt) i think you may find your guilt fading away, and your relationship with your dog blossoming.