The "Remorse Period"
There is this dirty little secret that almost everyone I know who gets a new dog has. After a couple hours, days, or weeks, you are having a frustrating moment with your new dog. Maybe it's their obsessive need to try to pee on every table leg in your house or your exhaustion from running from one room to another every single second your dog is awake and moving around the house. In that moment of overwhelm (usually mixed in with a lack of rest), a little thought rolls into your head, "Was this a good idea? Was this the right decision?" Sometimes mixed in with, "Oh boy, what did I get myself into?"
It's a thought that I know a lot of dog parents have at some point. Over the last decade of working with clients, I have empathized with hundreds of people on this "remorse period". It doesn't make you a bad person. In fact, I thought this to myself several times last week as I was tired, hangry, and exhausted from adapting to Bruce's personality and energy fully coming out, now that he is more adjusted into our home and routine.
I always try to remind people that for the first couple of weeks, your dog is still not fully themselves yet. The first week or two, Bruce was quiet, sleepy, had no problem taking a nap on my lap, and was very predictable. As we approached middle of the second week, that was no longer the case. You may have seen the funny video I made highlighting that we need to normalize dogs doing shit that isn't ideal. It is normal. Depending on what is happening, sometimes it's hilarious, sometime's it's cute, and sometimes it stresses me out!
I think it's important to remember that so many people have these types of moments with their dogs at some point and I wanted to write this entry to help others not feel as guilty about it. It's ok to be overwhelmed with a new puppy that won't stop nipping your family, or feel frustrated by an adult dog that was never properly potty trained and you're cleaning up accidents all day, or feel disappointed that you got a dog who you didn't realize was reactive when on leash, or even just the pressure of having to deal with training your dog after a long day of work. There are days we will feel there is too much on our plate and that is totally ok. A better moment is on its way, a better day is coming soon, and a good week will be present again.
The next time you're having a remorse moment, take a deep breath and remember that almost everyone I've ever met who has gotten a new dog has had similar moments - and the good news is, it'll pass. I think back to when I first got Jade as a puppy and felt it within the first week when I realized she had chewed the corner of the expensive TV stand. "What the hell did I get myself into?", I thought to myself. I also remember when we first got Freddie and he was 100% not potty trained and he was showing signs of severe separation and confinement anxiety (SUPER FUN!). So I look at Jade and Freddie now and see how absolutely amazing they are and remind myself what I preach to the dog community - that relationship-building, working with your dog on new skills, and building trust with your dog will take effort over time. A good reminder, indeed.
So all in all, last week was a bit more challenging for me, but as I finish writing this entry now this week, things are already better! We haven't had an accident in over a week, Bruce and Freddie are playing really well together, everyone is able to relax in the same room, we have a solid routine down with all three of them, and I am trusting Bruce so much more that I'm allowing him way more time outside of his crate/pen. He's thrilled about it.
Every relationship has its ups and downs, ins and outs, and the good and the not so good. Stick in there. :)
Share your "remorse period" moments in the comments and any update on how things are now. I'd love to hear more about your journeys with your dogs.
Here's one of the first pictures of all three of my babies. <3
Bye bye, pumpkin pie.