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It feels so wrong to resent your beloved furbaby. Or furbabies.
Oh, that shame. And guilt.
Suddenly they seem so needy, and the behaviors you found amusing or didn’t care much about drive you nuts.
You find yourself screaming at them because you are so frustrated. And so tired and overwhelmed.
Many new parents feel frustration, guilt, grief, and resentment toward their dogs when this big change happens in their family.
"I have 2 dogs and a cat, and they were on my last nerves! They all of a sudden seemed so needy even though nothing had changed. Now I’m mostly back to my loving self to them all."
Along with pregnancy or becoming a new mom, you are experiencing many changes. Resentment may show up in different forms.
It can be tough to navigate these new emotions when your dog used to be your whole world.
I spoke with Caitlin Slavens and Chelsea Bodie, registered psychologists specializing in perinatal mental health and authors of Not Your Mother’s Postpartum Book. They shared that one reason new moms may resent, become overwhelmed with, or become angry with their dogs is postpartum depression and anxiety.
"In these situations it is important to give yourself compassion, your whole world just changed, and so did your dogs. It is essential to give both of you some grace as you adapt to your changing world. Reach out for support when you need it, whether it's asking someone to take the dog for a walk, or someone to watch the baby while you take the dog for a walk. Connection is key, take a moment to rub their bellies, look into their eyes, you both will get through it, you both got this.”
"I had a bout of being a germaphobe when my baby was born; I felt my dog was the nastiest and dirtiest thing. I was so overwhelmed with having a NICU baby and being cautious about everything. Thankfully my parents were willing to help out by having my dog stay at their house. Once my PPD and PPA were in check, she came home. I still feel guilty, but I’m working on it ❤️ special pets and cuddles after the baby is asleep, solo walks with her outside."
If you are struggling with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, or even the “baby blues,” always reach out for help.
Postpartum Support International
I know you have heard it many times before, but when you start resenting your dog or dogs, ask for help with your dog.
"It’s been a difficult transition for us and our dog. The middle ground I landed on was carving out 1-2 walks a week with her and hiring a dog walker for the rest so that she could get exercise and companionship. One thing I’ve eased up on is allowing our dog on our bed at night - it’s our time to cuddle and catch up at the end of a hectic day."
"Our dog was the apple of my eye, and all of a sudden, I’m too scared to let her near the baby. I’m so worried she will hurt the baby. She hasn’t displayed any concerning signs. She friendly wags her tail, tries to sniff the baby, and tries to sniff the head. It’s when she jumps up to see the baby that scares me."
I was surprised by how protective I was of my babies. Granted, Lola’s predatory reaction was very scary, but I was a full-on mama bear and really didn’t want her to be near my babies for a very long time while she perfectly ignored them and was overall very gentle around them.
Many parents get extremely annoyed with their dog's typical behaviors or feel like they are always in the way. Some parents can’t stand the licking, even if it never bothered them. Or barking; this one can really get on new parents’ nerves.
If you are reading this before you’ve had your baby, focus on preparation and training. I can’t stress enough how much of a difference living with a baby and a well-trained and well-prepared dog makes. You will feel so much more at ease. If you need help, I will walk you step by step through the preparation and training in my Preparation Course.
"I have two dogs, and I started to resent one of them. The younger husky is very stubborn. She also sheds the most and isn't very cuddly. As much as I love my husky, I have honestly considered rehoming her."
There are dogs and situations where safety is a concern, and you may consider rehoming your dog.
Often, when you suddenly wish you didn't have a dog, it’s because:
"I don’t know anyone obsessed with their dogs more than me; I’m an ‘if my dogs can’t come, neither can I’ kinda girl. During my pregnancy, I was sick all 9 months and found myself frequently frustrated with my dogs for needing me so much. I didn’t have the energy for the daily walks and playing like I used to. Then the baby came, and he was colic. I resented them once again for needing any more of me when I was already running on empty. We’re 4 months in, and I’m finding the time for them once again and new ways to incorporate them into our new life, and it’s been awesome."
You can’t give if you are running on empty. That’s a valid reason to feel what you are feeling. You are going through an extreme change in your life, and so is your dog. Whether you feel resentment, guilt, or grief, none of those make you a bad mom.
Embrace the change and know that you are doing a great job during this new stage of life! Give yourself some grace, ask for help, and connect with your dog by setting aside time to cuddle or go on a walk, just you and your dog.
The short answer is very unlikely.
The long answer - let me have Deanne and Luna’s mom share their experience and perspective.
"After having my daughter, I felt very alone and confused about my frustration with my dog. It gets better ... or at least it did for me. Time and patience, and support. ❤️🤎❤️"
"I think any demand on your time and energy in the early days of having a bub is really hard as you are just so depleted and coming to terms with being SO needed by the small person 24/7. We have a very low-maintenance greyhound, who literally sleeps all day, and even then, I had times when I snapped at her for wanting me too much (and by that, I mean just wanting her usual food or a walk). 8 months in, and we are starting to find the time to cuddle again. It was super hard at first, though, not gonna lie, and there will be times when it’s hard again, I’m sure.
The upside for her, though, has been for the first time, she has me at home all the time, gets lots of walks with bub, and gets to clean up after the baby has eaten, which she loves. So while she was getting slightly less intensive attention and cuddles from me, I think overall, she’s been happier since the baby's arrival. And I always tell her she’s still my “first baby” and the best long girl in the world ❤️."
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Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only. Please contact your veterinarian, a certified dog trainer, or a veterinary behaviorist if your dog's well-being is at risk or your dog's behavior poses a threat to you or other people.