Using Guilt to Your Advantage

When you do something you or another seeing as being inappropriate by a personal or societal standard, you often feel guilty.

Feelings of guilty for not meeting an expectation.

Feelings of guilt for believing (correctly or incorrectly) that doing the wrong thing made someone else feel disappointed.

Feelings of guilt for contributing to someone else’s pain or suffering.

Feelings of guilt are a sign a person is remorseful and have a sense of empathy. This is important in maintaining relationships with the ones you love.

Rational and healthy feelings of guilt are a motivator in changing your behavior and addressing past mistakes. This can lead you to your own personal growth.

Unhealthy pangs of guilt can be paralyzing and make you feel at a loss of what to do.

You become stuck believing you are a bad person rather than you did a bad thing.

You judge yourself for the actions of others in spite of knowing more and doing better.

Once you recognize previous actions and choices are in the past and there’s nothing you can do to change them, you can move forward.

You can move forward in taking inspired action in changing your today based on new and better information

You can utilize these learning experiences as a motivator in changing your choices in how you handle the concerns you have in your life.

I’ve been right in the thick of guilt.

When I was struggling with Jack and his distress with being left alone, I didn’t know what to do.

I didn’t have the confidence I was adequately helping him.

I felt his pain and blamed myself for his reactions.

I blamed others for not crossing the street with their dogs when Jack and I were walking together.

Silly I know.

But, I was so frustrated.

I finally recognized, I needed to do something different and use the energy I was wasting on these irrational beliefs in helping Jack have real change.

Long lasting change.

I made the choice of understanding Jack’s emotions and learning about what he enjoys and what he needs when things get tough for him.

I redirected my energy into finding solutions for Jack’s concern for being left alone.

I channeled my education and skills into building a routine Jack can trust.

Ultimately, I began meeting him where he needed to be met.

This is last piece is where it was a game changer.

It leveled the playing field and I made the choice every day in every situation.

It wasn’t easy. But it worked.

Taking the slow and gradual steps in changing your dog’s emotional response is cultivated through your relationship with your dog.

There are no quick fixes.

Seeing the progress to your goals will build your confidence and encourage you to continue on your journey with your dog.

Not sure how this works?

But you’re still open in exploring how to do it?

Set up your free Discovery Call with me: https://fourpawsandyoudogtraining.as.me/

Shifting your perspective can change the trajectory of your relationship with your companion animal.

Caring for Your Dog Into the Golden Years

Life is built with your dogs.

You travel together.

Celebrate milestones like birthdays, gotcha days and holidays.

Days lead into seasons changing and another year of life being celebrated.

Before you know it, you see your dog’s face graying, eyes getting a bit cloudy and your dog’s get up and go turned into let’s do that later.

It can feel as though your dog transitioning into later life stages can happen so quickly.

Sometimes we hold on to what was and the changes then slap you in the face when you notice new behaviors or changes in bodily movements and look to get your dog into the next vet appointment available.

As a pet parent myself, who is caring for a senior dog in their golden years, there are lots of emotions which bubble up.

Letting go of the attachment to what was and breathing into meeting Jack where he is at and where he needs me to be is his need right now.

Feeling my own grief of letting go of what was and the attachment to what this meant for me was and is in some respects difficult.

It was an important first step.

It opened me up to seeing Jack in the present and taking care of his needs regardless of the sadness and loss I feel.

Caring for a senior dog does take an emotional toll as it can be uncharted territory as it was for me.

Some things I gleaned from discussions with Jack’s vet which may help you as your dog transitions into those twilight years.

🖥 Find a veterinarian you trust. This is an invaluable resource as you will be able to have open conversations about next steps. Trusted veterinarians will see you as a member of their team when giving recommendations on how to address your dog’s medical needs.

🩺 Do your homework on understanding medical interventions and how mainstream medications can impact your dog. Inquire about their opinion as a medical professional about the pros and cons of those interventions as it pertains to your dog’s individual needs. Gaining information on the topic can help you make a well informed decision.

🕣 As with any life stage, there are new considerations and even new changes. Dogs entering their senior years may look different as they are a decade or more older. Talk with your vet about frequency of vet visits to monitor change you may not see on the outside. This is especially true if your dog developed any conditions which will stay with him for the rest of his life. In regards to Jack, he was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Disease in 2021. In conversation with his veterinarian, it was recommended he come in semi annually to chart his health and keep an eye on any changes.

🐶 Let your veterinarian know of any new changes to your dog’s mobility, if you feel any lumps or bumps that seemed to just “show up” and how your dog is eating and drinking and on the flip side of this, the patterns of urination and defecation. This can give your veterinarian more of a clear picture of what’s going on. Even discuss with your dog’s veterinarian if you observe your dog acting confused or disoriented. Dogs can experience cognitive dysfunction like people experience dementia.

⛑Dogs are masters at hiding pain. Asking your veterinarian to assess for pain can indicate arthritis developing and your dog can be started on therapies which help support the joints and bones earlier in the aging process.

👩‍❤️‍👩 As your dog advances in age, discuss with your dog’s other decision makers (spouse, partner, roommate ect) of what you all agree on in terms providing care to your dog as your dog grows older will help establish roles and responsibilities. If you are the one and only to your dog, reach out to others who experienced life with a dog and get support from them. Making decisions can feel like a burden and you may question, “is this the right decision”. Your veterinarian is also part of this conversation too. Open communication allows for all involved to share their own feelings and ideas of how to move forward. Doing so will also alleviate any resentment or regret which can interfere with thoughtful decision making.
Enjoy all the special moments with your dogs always. Their silliness, goofiness, how they show you love and how they keep you honest. They will always be the bestest friend you’ll have in life.

❤️ You are your dog’s best advocate. It’s a tough job, but the love and compassion you feel and show towards your dog makes it all worth it.

My Boogie!

Wagging Tails and Clapping Hands

I truly love coaching pet parents and their dogs in building a relationship together.

💕 💕 💕 💕 💕 💕

A testimonial from a recent client of the Growl to Grow Dog Training and Support Program:

Our story is a little long and convoluted, so to spare you from the details, I will share just a piece of our journey.
Arges came to us in March from a local rescue. He was a street dog in Mexico, the only survivor of his litter, approximately 8 weeks old. He was so young and fragile. Broken in a lot of ways, physically and mentally. His life on the streets were short, but left a huge impact on him, as you can see from his lack of eyeballs, and scars on his body.

He is a gentle, loving soul. We’re not new to rescue, but I haven’t been a pet parent to a blind dog before, so we were doing our best to navigate through this. Making sure Arges could be cool, calm, and confident no matter where we are. He loves other people, and other dogs so much, almost to a fault.
We had Katherine come and assist us with a number of things, some not pertaining to Arges.

Just the initial phone call with Katherine put us at ease. She is so incredibly knowledgeable, kind, and patient.
We went through the growl to growl program, and Arges (being a big ham) soaked up every minute of it. He has grown so much, not only physically as he matures into an adult dog, but mentally. He is still wild and silly (teenagers 😏) but he is really coming into his own.
He has flourished so much while we worked with Katherine, she has been so flexible and willing to assist us in so many ways.

We are going to be continuing our journey with Katherine.

I can’t express how grateful I am that I made that initial phone call.

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