Last night I came home from work and my saw that my dog had destroyed three photo albums with irreplaceable pictures of my family. I lost my mind and started screaming at her and she ran under the bed. Now I feel so guilty, and even though she acts like nothing happened, I think she secretly hates me. I keep hugging her and apologizing, but I still feel terrible. Have I destroyed our relationship?
OK, take a deep breath and repeat after me “dogs don’t secretly feel anything”. If your tantrum had emotionally scarred her, you would know it. She would be skulking around the house, head down, avoiding you like the plague. And even with a dog who was that emotionally sensitive, with time and patience, you would be able to repair the damage done to the relationship. Your dog, however, has weathered the storm and moved on. Most dogs (those who have been emotionally or physically abused and those who have emotional issues are a different story) are able to shake it off and move on. They don’t post “FML” on Facebook, and send texts to their friends, ruing the day they came into your home. The hard part is for you to let go of the incident – smothering her with hugs and apologies may actually cause her anxiety, or, in the case of a dog who doesn’t like a lot of physical contacts, just plain annoy her. THEN she would avoid you, and then you would say “See, she hates me for yelling at her”. Sometimes we humans create our own reality. Look, here’s the scoop – first, don’t scream at your dog for anything. Dogs fear anger, ignore it, or it amps them up and makes everything worse. If you’re about to pop your cork walk away and cool off – may I suggest counting to 10 or higher. Second, and most important, keep heirlooms out of reach of your dog. A good rule of thumb is “if you wouldn’t leave it out with a toddler, don’t leave it out with your dog”. Finally, resume acting normal around your dog – you said it yourself “she acts like nothing happened”, which, translated, means she’s over it. You need to be, too.