When you're a dog lover, you tend to analyze each detail of your relationship with your furry friend. You wonder what they think when they look at you, if they get mad at you, or if you're their favorite person. Sometimes, you wish you could explain to them what you're thinking or why you're doing something, so they know that you have their best interests at heart. Unfortunately, dogs don't speak human, and humans don't speak dog, but we can communicate in other ways. When we need to know how to tell a dog you're sorry, or that this is for their own good, can only be communicated through action.
There are myriad reasons you might want to apologize to your dog. Maybe you accidentally stepped on their paw. Maybe they stopped carrying your dog's favorite food brand and you have to change it. It could be that you're dropping your pooch off at a new kennel for the first time. All of these reasons and more might spur you to want to say you're sorry to your very best doggo. Thankfully, it doesn't need to be some long, drawn out affair, because, according to dog expert Cesar Milan, dogs do not hold grudges.
Milan noted that while dogs do build guarding behaviors when they are routinely and repeatedly mistreated, for the most part, they're a forgiving lot. Dogs are just too pure, too good to hold your mistakes against you. Also, it might have something to do with the fact that dogs are easily distracted, and have a terrible short term memory. Anyone who has ever played "fetch" with a dog and faked them out by not really throwing the stick can tell you that attention to detail is not a dog's strong suit.
However, there are some circumstances when things aren't as easy to gloss over than an accidental bump on the nose, or a step on a tail. Sometimes, the apology is as much for yourself as it is for your dog.
A few years ago, my akita, Brownie, started acting erratically. She'd fall over when she went to lay down like a fainting goat, and would bump into things. At the time, we chalked it up to being a nearly 15 year old akita, but things got worse. Eventually, her symptoms worsened, her personality changed, and she started snipping at us. She was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor.
I was ashamed I'd let her deteriorate so long. Saying "I'm sorry" seemed an impossible task. But on the day she would make her final trip to the vets, we did a tour of her favorite things. A walk in the park with the kids, a meal of fresh meat and jerky, and a long brush. I'm sure that I was crying and apologizing to her the whole time. That was my way to tell her that I was sorry.
Thank heavens that not everything is so deep, and so utterly sad. Most of the time when you need to know how to say sorry to your dog, it's because you accidentally jingled their leash with no walk forthcoming, or you're throwing away their most disgusting toy. In those instances, Dr. Jeannine Berger, DVM, DACVB said on the website 7x7 that when this happens, she just says, "Oops, I’m sorry,” then she gives her dog some love and moves on to happier things.
For the most part, dogs are a happy, resilient bunch by nature. So as long as you're giving them attention, and keeping them warm, fed, and clean... they're just happy that you're alive.