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Self Care as Dog Care


March 4, 2015 by Julia

Recently I’ve been going through some turmoil in my personal life. I tried to keep up a normal schedule for the dogs, especially Delta who was feeling the effects of our miserable, snowy winter. I attended the seminar with Dash because it was too good to pass up and went to all of Delta’s classes (that weren’t canceled by a snowstorm). I thought I was dealing with the upheaval pretty well but I felt a bit rundown, like I was constantly on the verge of a cold that never came.

One night agility class was canceled but the building was supposed to be open for drop-ins. I was tired, but I wanted Delta to get some work in a bigger space than our basement. When I got there, the building was closed so I turned around and headed home. I felt my energy draining as I drove, by the time I got back I felt awful. I ended up spending the next two days home sick from work (and dog training too).

Early on in this upset, the dogs started fighting literally <em>over</em> me in the middle of the night. In the space of two weeks, I was woken up by a screaming match 4 times. Imagine jolting upright with a vicious sounding squabble happening nearly on top of you.  Then groping around in the dark to physically break it up. Thankfully neither dog inflicted any damage on the other (they had time if that was their intent), but it certainly took a toll on me. I’d spend a long time laying awake with my heart pounding, too adrenalized to sleep.

When I was consulting with someone about the issue, she reminded me that taking care of myself would help my dogs. Being physically and emotionally run down didn’t put me in a good position to deal with anything. They are also pretty tuned in, so my stress was adding to (or causing) theirs.


So, I started taking a little more time for me, trying to rest, breathe, and just “be.” Sometimes this means less training or fun for the dogs and I have to remind myself not to feel guilty. But I am also more present in the time I do spend and I find small ways to “be” with them – every day when I get home from work, I change out of my work clothes and sit quietly on the bed with them. I sit until I feel recharged enough to continue on with the business of the day. I can’t be sure that my changes are what ended their issue, but I am certain they helped.  They seem more relaxed. If I feel them tensing up, I am more ready to be calm and help them through it.


Remember to take care of yourself. Your dogs will thank you for it.


This post is part of the quarterly DABAD under the theme 
"Health and Wellbeing"


  1. What a great post! I think our dogs definitely sense our state of mind and your transition time from work to home sounds like a perfect routine!

    • Julia says:

      It helps that it is winter and that room is the coziest one in the house. We all get to warm up a little before braving the big, open downstairs.

  2. Laura says:

    This is such a great point that I think is easy to miss! I definitely have noticed that if my dogs are more “wound up” it is during a time that is busier or more difficult for me too. Thanks for sharing!

    • Julia says:

      I also think that Delta is more sensitive to it than Dash. Which is funny because I’d say he’s the more sensitive dog in many cases, but her “emotional contagion” level is high when it relates to me. I suspect she started the screaming matches but, since it was the middle of the night, I can only guess.

  3. Doranna says:

    This is quite awesome–and is a lesson I seem to need to learn over and over… Maybe this time?

    • Julia says:

      I think this is one of those lessons we’re destined to relearn over and over. Unless you become a monk or something, then you’ve probably got it down pat. 🙂

  4. Really glad to see this discussion!

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