A dog is a man’s best friend. For thousands of years humans have had dog companions, from our hunter gatherer ancestors all the way up to modern times. While the wild dogs that were first domesticated have changed significantly and there are now hundreds of breeds to choose from, the partnership between human and dog remains a constant in so many of our lives.
Having a dog as a partner can be an incredibly rewarding experience — they love us unconditionally, make us laugh, and ensure that we get enough exercise, among the many other benefits that come with dog ownership. We adore our dogs and treat them like family, and they do the same for us, seeing us as their “pack” despite the obvious differences between our two species.
But what happens when your dog isn’t a joy to be with, or they even make you miserable? This isn’t as uncommon as you might think, and sadly many of us feel trapped by our dogs; bound to them even though they may get on our nerves so much that it feels like they’re ruining our lives.
This is never an easy situation, and can cause significant stress for dog and owner alike. Even though he can’t say it, your dog knows when you’re miserable, and it may very well be making him miserable, too. Dogs want nothing more than to please their owners, but unfortunately this isn’t always possible.
If your dog is making you miserable, having a negative impact on your mental health or otherwise ruining your life, don’t worry. There are ways to cope, and it is possible for you and your pup to love each other once again! Read on for some common reasons our dogs might make us miserable, along with ways to help you cope:
Dogs have personalities just like us humans, and sometimes they can be a bit too much for us to handle. There are more than a few different behavior issues that can make a dog owner miserable, and understandably so.
When our dogs behave in ways that we don’t particularly like, it can be extremely frustrating — and it doesn’t help that we speak different languages!
When I first adopted my dog Lola, her behavior caused me an extreme amount of stress. While she was perfectly behaved in the shelter and for the first two weeks we had her home, her reactive tendencies soon came to light — and it was not pretty!
Here I was, a first-time dog owner, and I had this cute little terrier that would turn into a Tasmanian Devil the moment she saw another dog or person. How could I possibly cope with this?
After six grueling months of sheer chaos (and many, many tears on my part), I figured out that her behavior was fear-based and started to research ways to help her. It didn’t happen overnight, but she’s calmed down significantly since then, and I’m really glad I didn’t give up on her (which I came very close to doing more than once).
Sadly, my personal situation is not uncommon — many dog owners feel stressed, depressed, or even like their dog is ruining their life because of these perplexing behavior issues.
Along with reactivity, behavior issues can range from over excitement to aggression, inappropriate chewing or urination, and pretty much everything in between. The important thing to know is that your dog isn’t trying to ruin your life or make you miserable, I promise!
He’s actually trying to tell you something, he just can’t use words to explain what’s bothering him. It’s up to you to decide whether the issue is making you miserable enough to do something about it!
How to Cope
For behavioral issues, especially those that have started recently, a trip to the vet is a good place to start. Even if a medical cause is ruled out, your vet will be able to recommend you to other people that can help, like a trainer or behaviorist.
Sometimes, a vet might offer medication to help calm your pup’s nerves while you get to the root of the behavior, but this is usually only in extreme cases.
If a medical issue isn’t the source of your dog’s behavior problems, it’s time to talk to a trainer. While it’s common to assume that trainers are overly expensive, that’s not always the case.
Doing a little research, talking to friends who might know dog trainers, or asking your vet or your local shelter might just unearth a great trainer (or behaviorist). They’ll be able to help you finally make sense of your pup’s unruly behavior and get it resolved — making life more enjoyable for the both of you!
As dogs age, their bodies wear down just like ours do. Depending on many factors like breed, diet, activity level and other factors, dogs can start to face health issues as they get older, too. If your dog has health issues that you’re already aware of, it’s understandable that you might be feeling miserable.
Not only is it hard to watch your best friend not feeling like herself, but the energy required to care for a dog with chronic health issues can make you feel extremely drained, and even depressed.
Part of this is simply the extra work weighing you down on top of your extra responsibilities, leaving you feeling physically exhausted. Another piece to this might also be that part of you knows you’ll eventually have to say goodbye one day, and your pup’s health issues (whether terminal or not) make this idea seem closer to reality than you’d like.
It’s important to take care of yourself in these tough times, too — so many of us forget our own importance when we’re busy caring for someone we love, but self-care can actually make this easier on the both of you. If your dog is younger and has health problems, it can be just as depressing.
Thankfully, nowadays we have access to all kinds of treatments that we didn’t even a decade ago, so young and otherwise healthy dogs have a better chance of enjoying their lives once their condition is under control. Still, the vet visits, medications and overall cost don’t make it any easier on you!
How to Cope
If you’ve decided to keep on treating your dog’s condition and are in it for the long haul, it’s super important to take time for yourself. Getting away for a few hours once in a while allows you to regroup, think about something else for a while, and come back to the situation with a clearer head.
While this can be difficult if your pup is dependent on you, try to make it a priority. Your physical and mental health are important, and no one can keep going non-stop forever!
Another way to cope with having a dog whose medical issues are seemingly ruining your life is to have other people to support you through your difficult time. Talking to friends and family or other dog owners who might know what you’re going through will help you feel less alone in the situation and might even help you cope in some way.
Also, spending quiet time with your dog might help rekindle your bond and could make you feel less depressed about the situation you’re both going through.
Many dogs require a good amount of space to stretch their legs, and having inadequate living quarters can become problematic in a number of ways. If you have a tiny Chihuahua or something similar this may not be an issue for you, but bigger dogs can cause major chaos if they don’t have enough room to move around!
If your dog is acting like a bull in a China shop and wrecking everything in sight, it’s very likely that you have space issues.
Many apartment dwellers own dogs these days, and a lot of the time it works out ok. However, some dogs are just not built for apartment living, and can make their owners lives miserable due to a simple lack of space. Knocking things over with their tails, lying across narrow hallways, damaging furniture can all happen when a dog has too little space in his environment — especially the larger, more active breeds.
If your home feels like a war zone because your dog is acting like a wild donkey, it’s understandable that you might be feeling miserable!
Dogs that live in small spaces can be annoying, and understandably so. It’s easy to be irritated when you feel trapped or stuck with someone who doesn’t seem to respect your space, whether they’re a dog or even a human!
Thankfully, there are ways to help you coexist peacefully with your dog in your close quarters. Don’t worry — contrary to popular assumptions you don’t have to do anything drastic like buy a farm in the country or give your dog away!
How to Cope
First things first, make sure your dog gets enough exercise every day. A tired dog is a good dog as the saying goes, and it’s true! Depending on your pup’s size, breed, and unique energy level, they could need very little exercise or quite a lot. Larger breeds like Shepherds and Collies have endless energy, which means they need a good walk, run, or play at the dog park every day in order to relax once they’re at home.
Giant breeds like Mastiffs and Great Danes need less exercise than you might think, but due to their size they can be the most destructive, so it’s important to tire them out every day too — just don’t overdo it!
If your pup has been well exercised and is still making you miserable, they might be bored and in need of some mental stimulation. Consider something else to keep them busy like a stuffed Kong, a bone to chew on, or a food puzzle toy.
These activities actually require dogs to use a good amount of brain power, and give them the mental stimulation that they need to work off any leftover energy they have. Plus, they’ll be quiet and stay out of your way while they enjoy their chew time, giving you the peace and quiet you so desperately need!
Just not a Good Match
Sometimes, despite your trying everything you can to resolve a situation, it becomes evident that you and your dog are simply not a good match for each other. This is nothing to be ashamed of, and happens to the best of us!
If you’ve had medical issues ruled out, seen a trainer, keep your dog well exercised and mentally stimulated and they’re still making you miserable, it might be time to admit that the two of you aren’t a good match.
I’ve seen countless cases of this very issue, in many different forms. Families with small children getting giant breeds that pose a threat based on their size alone, apartment dwellers with busy work schedules getting working breeds that need more exercise than most, and on and on.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of a lifestyle that just isn’t compatible with what your specific dog needs to thrive. Other times, the owner just isn’t capable of handling the dog they chose, through no fault of their own — it’s just not a good match.
In situations like these, it’s important to remember that you haven’t done anything wrong, and neither has the dog. You did a good thing by giving your dog a home, and he loves you for it, just as you love him. But if you’ve tried as hard as you could to make it work and your dog still makes you miserable, it might be time to face the truth.
This can be very difficult to do, which is why many people allow their dogs to continue making them miserable — they don’t want to fail the dog. However, your happiness is important, too, and it’s not making it better for anyone involved to ignore the facts.
How to Cope
If your dog is still ruining your life after you’ve tried everything you can to make things work, it may be time to consider rehoming him. I don’t recommend this lightly and of course it’s your decision, but if you sit down and weigh out the facts of the situation, you may come to this conclusion as well.
It’s nothing to feel badly about, it happens all the time. While you may miss him, over time you’ll feel better knowing that he’s in a home that’s better for his unique needs. You’ll also feel better not having the additional stress in your life, and after a while, maybe even find another dog that’s better suited to your lifestyle.
If you’re worried about your pup finding a good home, there’s plenty of help out there. Your local shelter or rescue, your vet, or even any dog trainers you know will have resources to help you find him the perfect fit, though it may take a while depending on your situation.
You could also ask around to see if any of your friends or family members might want to take him — this will reassure you that he’s in good hands and maybe you can even still see him once in a while. Just remember that rehoming is not failing the dog — if it’s best for everyone you’re doing the right thing, and after a while it will get easier.