Pet Parent Guilt is Real: 5 Ways to Overcome it
Any dog parent knows “the look”: that look your dog gives you when you’re walking out the door, keys in hand, and promising profusely to “be back soon.” You may have left your dog with an assortment of toys and treats to alleviate boredom, but what you’re really trying to alleviate is the overwhelming guilt you feel leaving her alone while you head out into the world.
When my husband and I adopted our “firstborn” as a 13-week old puppy, we threw an absurd amount of time, money, and energy into preemptively assuaging our new pet parent guilt: fancy toys, treats, modified work schedules, you name it. We even hired a “puppy nanny” for a few weeks so that she wouldn’t be alone (that’s a post for another time…). But at the end of the day, here’s what I learned actually helps alleviate pet parent guilt (and no, a puppy nanny isn’t one of them):
1. Find a system that works for both you and your dog. We bought a top-of-the-line wire crate that I quickly grew to hate: it was rickety, hard to operate, made a ton of noise, and made my adorable fur baby look like she was behind bars. I hated it so much that I hardly used it, and my dog, unsurprisingly, never warmed to it. We couldn’t find the right product on the market, so we decided instead to use a baby gate to keep her in our small kitchen. Living with a now-permanent gate isn’t ideal, but it’s far better than the alternatives. My dog loves her space and readily goes in, both on her own and when I ask her to. I feel much less guilty knowing I’m leaving her in a space where she’s comfortable and happy.
2. Create a home within a home. Before becoming a pet parent, I mistakenly assumed dogs were the happiest when they had full reign of the house. But I soon learned that my puppy was overwhelmed with too much space: she bounded around from room to room and wouldn’t settle down. That changed as soon as we started limiting her space. She immediately settled into “her” room, which gave her the cue to relax and, more often than not, go to sleep. You could tell she loved—and craved—the safety and familiarity of her own space.
3. Safety is a must. I’m not going to lie, I rushed home from work on several occasions convinced that I had left an appliance on or left some unknown hazard within my dog’s reach (can she reach those vitamins I left on the table? Can dogs have vitamins?!). Nothing alleviates pet parent guilt like knowing your dog is safe and secure while you’re away.
4. Visibility is key. I invested in a WiFi video camera to monitor my dog while I was out of the house, and I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to pull up a live feed of my dog snoozing away, comfortable and secure as can be, whenever my pet parent guilt starts to strike. Because she spends her days in a safe space that she loves, I’ve never observed any issues, but it’s still nice to know for sure.
5. Physical comfort for your pet = emotional comfort for you. My dog likes the finer things in life, and she will always seek out a soft, comfortable surface on which to nap and lounge. We invested in a high-quality dog bed that she loves, and I’m comforted knowing that she’s comfortable while I’m gone.
My own experiences with pet parent guilt would have been made so much easier if we had found a crate that was safe, easy to use and actually looked like a comfortable space for our pup to spend time. That’s why I’m so excited for the Diggs Revol crate to launch. The Revol crate is a game changer for pet parent guilt: it creates a safe and secure, comfortable home-within-a-home for your dog to enjoy both when you’re there and, because it has to happen sometimes, when you’re not.