Does your dog hurt your feelings? Because I think that’s what’s going on with some Something Wagging readers.
Lately, common search terms that bring folks to this blog are along the lines of “Why doesn’t my dog greet me more excitedly when I come home?”
Sounds like someone needs to be told to not take their dog so personally.
Insulted by Dogs
I blame the dog propaganda machine.
You know what I mean. The ad agency that cranks out all that “unconditional love,” “dogs are man’s best friend,” and “be the person our dog thinks you are” crap.
After a while, we all start to assume that every dog is going to love us. More than anyone else in the world. Because that’s what dogs do.
I’ll never forget how hurt my sister’s boyfriend was that no matter how often he visited, my dogs Agatha and Christie barked at him like he was a burglar. Luckily he wasn’t too insulted by the dogs to marry my sister and become Agatha and Christie’s “uncle.”
If anyone deserves to feel insulted by their dog, it’s me. Because Honey saves her most excited greetings for strangers.
When I come home, Honey picks up a toy in her mouth and comes over for a gentle wag. When the meter reader comes, she can barely contain her joy.
It’s a good thing I don’t take my dog too personally. And that I’ve had a string of foster dogs who really know how to throw a big greeting at the door.
How You Know Your Dog Loves You
Instead of getting insulted when our dogs don’t respond to us the way we think they should, we need to understand who our dogs really are. And figure out how they show us their love. Not whether they fall short in our expectations for how a loving dog behaves.
Even when I went away for a month, Honey did not greet me excitedly at the door. Does that mean she doesn’t love me as much as someone whose dog goes insane jumping with joy when they get home from work?
Of course not.
It might mean that she’s not anxious when we’re away and has less nervous energy to disperse. Or maybe she shows her love in other ways.
Honey likes to be with us. And she’s happiest when the whole family is together.
Honey loves to walk in the snow. But when I walked her to drop off Mike at his office the other day, she stood at the corner looking after him until he disappeared into the building. She continued to stand on the corner for another ten minutes in case he came back. She didn’t want to miss the chance to have us all together again.
If I work at my desk too long, Honey comes over for lovies. She settles in contentedly if I switch to the laptop where she can cuddle up next to me while I work.
So although Honey doesn’t spin like a maniac and bark with joy when I come home, I know she still loves me. In her own way.
Let Your Dog Be Your Dog
I’d advise the person who is worried about why her dog doesn’t greet her with crazy joy is to let her dog be her dog.
Our dogs don’t watch the dog food commercials that share the man’s best friend script. There’s no dog manual just like there’s no human manual. We just do what seems right to us at the time.
Some dogs are less sociable. Some are sociable on their own terms. Some are more sociable at some times of day than others.
As dogs get older, sometimes they change. Aches and pains may make them less cuddly. Perhaps they have a form of dementia that changes their personality.
Or maybe, like humans, they decide that life is too short to do what other people want you to do all the time. And if they feel like taking a nap when you feel like cuddling, tough for you.
Don’t Take Your Dog Personally
If the only reason you got a dog is to heal your low self-esteem, that’s a bad idea. No wonder you take your dog personally.
But take a lesson from your dog.
After all, they don’t get insulted when we have a bad day or act like jerks. If our dogs don’t take us personally, maybe we need to stop taking them personally. And just let them be who they are.
Your Turn: It’s human to feel hurt when someone doesn’t want our attention. Do you take your dog too personally when she doesn’t want your attention? How do you deal with it?