Do You Ever Feel Overwhelmed By Your Pets?

My pets have always been the most important things in the world to me. I grew up as an only child with a mentally abusive mother and a father who was oblivious to everything. I had very few friends, so my pets were my world.

As an adult, I still have few friends. I have never been in a relationship and have no children. I have suffered from clinical depression since I was 15. My 4 dogs and 2 cats are my family. But in March I started a new job after being laid off for 10 months. It pays quite well, but it is the most mentally stressful thing I have ever done in my life. I have never had a job make me feel so blatently STUPID. Ever. I come home from work and feel like my brain is mush, and even tho I sit at a desk all day, physically weak and drained.

When I come home, my pets want my undivided attention, and I am too damned tired & stressed. I end up losing my temper at them, yelling and screaming, and occasionally I lose my temper enough that I smack them. This is not me. But my dogs are becoming wary of me, and this is breaking my heart.

It seems like they are acting out more and more; the other day, I spilled some tea on the kitchen floor and tossed a dirty bath towel over it while I got thee dogs in. After having been outside several hours, my female Gordon Setter waklked over to the towel and immediately pissed on it… she NEVER does that. That was one of the times I broke and beat the holy hell out of her. This morning I woke to find that one of my cats had got up on the table in front of the picture window and puked on my laptop then covered it with half a box of tissues. Thank God I had remembered to close the laptop before bed last night.

The dogs have gotten used to getting up at 6 AM, and in the next couple weeks I am going to be starting my permanant shift, 3 PM till midnight. Every morning they wake me at 6 AM, playing together, squeaking toys and licking me. When I start that new shift, that ain’t gonna work.

I have always said I couldn’t survive without my dogs, but at this time, I am wwondering if it wouldn’t be better for THEM if I found homes for them. I feel like a terrible pet mom and hate myself for it. They ask only for love and at this point in my life, I don’t have it to give them.

Have any of you ever gone thru anything like this? How did you handle it? Is my love for them going to come back? (Because quite frankly, if it’s gone for good, I have no reason to continue living.)

You sound totally stressed out from your job. Can you get a pet sitter or dog walker? You need some help, four dogs, two cats and a full time stressful new job? That’s a lot for just one person to deal with. I think it’ll settle down once you feel more competent at your job but you must nip this in the bud. A smack on the fanny for a real crime is one thing, but not smacking them just because you’re frustrated.

The only pet to “overwhelm” me is my young cockatiel. She’s about 2 years old and still does the baby “stress cry” on occasion. It’s the most annoying sound on the planet, and when I’m tired from work I just do NOT want to listen to it. If she does it when she’s out, she gets put to bed and covered up. If she does it when her cage door is still shut, I make her gut it out for awhile (don’t want to reward her for shrieking) and then as soon as she’s quiet for a few moments I let her out. I don’t feel particularly loving toward my dog when she pukes all over the truck, or my cat when she INSISTS upon chewing up the phone charger cord (RIGHT as I was packing it to go on a trip). Try to remember to separate what they do by accident, by what they are, just sweet dumb animals. They’re not trying to make you mad.

Your pets are probably also reacting to YOUR stress levels, which may be increasing their accidents and bad behaviour. Pets don’t get “mad” or get even with us, but they DO react to anxiety and they can be very sensitive to picking up on our moods.

Try to do the “10 minute rule”. Even when you’re SOOOO tired, spend at least 10 minutes just loving on them when you get home. If you still can’t function after 10 mins of doggie hugs and cat snuggles, send them off to the great outdoors and rest for a bit. I’ll bet having that snuggle time will help relax them AND you and will go a long way toward relieving their anxiety. And maybe even yours. As to the “love” coming back, remember, Love is a verb too. ACT loving, and you will probably start feeling loving too.

I’m sorry the job is so stressful. :frowning:

If you are abusing your animals - find other homes for them. NOW. I don’t care what your reasons are, they are not acting out or doing anything out of spite, etc. Animals don’t have the capacity for that kind of thought pattern. There is never a reason to “beat the holy hell” out of any living thing - especially one that is in your care and 100% dependent on you. Find them new homes before you kill them.

I am fully aware that they are not acting out of spite. I am an experienced dog trainer, and understand the canine mind.

I am not ABUSING them, other than mainly a lot of yelling that I do not normally do. I feel as if my world is closing in on me and don’t know which way to turn.

Canvasshoes, I appreciate your understanding and support. Just reading my vent meant a lot to me. What I don’t need is anyone telling me what a shitty person I am. If I lose my pets I will have nothing. What I am looking for are ways to COPE.

Papsett you are repeating the only coping mechanism you know but it is abusive. You are acting somewhat erraticially around your animals, and I KNOW you know this, lack of consistency makes animals insane. All of their behavior is directly attributable to your behavior. You need a plan, which in my opinion should start with boarding the dogs for a week and giving yourself a break.

I suggest that when your head is clear, you consider crate training the dogs at night, and shutting your cats out of the bedroom. Sure they are “used to” waking you at six; they can get used to something else. I think you would also benefit from a therapist because I think you need some new skills to cope with stress.

BTW, I had been where you are and found myself consumed with insane rage at my animals, and I have a lot of sympathy for your situation. You have GOT to check yourself before you get physical with them. You know that, I know that. Think about and plan what you will do the next time you feel that way.

PapSett, it sounds like an awful situation for you, and I empathise. The thing to consider is that your pets are not the problem - your stress is. In the scheme of things, your lovely and much loved pets are the most likely remedy, so to have them re-homed is maybe not the answer, but the first conclusion to come to when you’re feeling the way you do at the moment.
Maybe part of the solution is learning to handle your job more effectively; it is no life to have feeling so strung out when you get home. I have no idea what your job entails, but it’s not uncommon to feel the way that you describe when we are working at a level of conscious incompetence (i.e we’re aware of what we don’t know). It’s very taxing to have to spend day after day feeling like a fraud in aspects of our job that we fear will someday catch up with us. So if this is the case, see what steps are available to you to rectify it - whether it be internally at work, or something external (like a course of some kind).
You may be thinking of finding new homes for your cats and dogs in order to make yourself feel even worse than you do right now - sometimes we do that; have a driving need to continue punishing ourselves. Stop it - you’re important to people who love you, and you’re certainly important to your fur family.
The current situation (as with any situation that presents itself in a truly confronting way) is simply a challenge for you: it’s not a statement of anything, it’s not proof of anything - it’s just alerting you to the necessity to acquire another skill that you maybe don’t have right now; whether it be work related, or self-actualising like patience, or relaxation, or knowing how to prioritise what’s REALLY important to you and the way you want to live your life.
There IS a solution. And you have to be prepared to find it. Don’t give in, and don’t give up. If it’s possible in the world, it’s possible for you. It’s just a matter of how.
Please don’t hit your pets. It really achieves less than nothing for them, and for you. They are doing things at the moment to get your attention because their routine has probably been massively changed, and they don’t know what’s going on. For all intents and purposes you are their ‘mother’ and you need to be mindful of that. Respect them. Be kind to them. It’s not their fault you’re feeling confused right now. Maintain their routine, and it will help maintain yours. You are responsible for them, no matter what. Step up to the plate for them, even if you don’t feel like you can do it for yourself at the moment. THEY will help you get through this, as they’ve helped you get through things before. Thank them for that, and thank yourself for recognising that something has to change. THAT, PapSett, takes courage - so congratulate yourself for that. You’ll do fine. You really will.

Abuse perpetuates itself, doesn’t it? It’s insidious. It’s like a virus that will do anything to reproduce in succeeding generations.

Fight it. *Please. *Don’t touch those doggies and kitties in anger. Do whatever you must do not to let that happen. Your furbuddies will thank you and you will thank yourself. Stay strong.

Not judging. I grew up in an abusive household, and my impulse, whenever I am pissed off, is always to raise hell. This would shock anyone who knows me personally, but I am constantly tempted to screaming and violence. It’s in my bones. I went through a period of time, years ago, where I believe I was emotionally abusive to my husband. The last straw for me – when I realized I had to own up and take responsibility – was when I lost my temper and punched a wall. It absolutely sucks to realize you are doing the same damn thing your parents did, but it’s absolutely necessary to come to terms with it in order to get over it.

I don’t think giving your pets away is going to help you learn to deal with your feelings constructively. I’ve had periods of time where I feel excessively yelly and impatient with my cat, and there was a stretch where I didn’t spend much time with him at all. For me, it came from feeling like my needs weren’t met–how could I take care of something else if I was unable to care for myself? So you have to start with yourself. Maybe just take ten minutes or so to be on your own when you come home from work every day. Give yourself that compassion and love you are so desperate to have. THEN you can give your pets the attention they need.

FTR–my relationship with my husband, and my cat, is now great. It sucks to be that real with yourself about your flaws, but I think it’s the only way we can really change. The way I see it, this is the difference between them (my parents) and me – I can look at myself in the mirror, say ‘‘I did something abusive’’ and then make sure it never happens again. My parents could never do that, could never own up to their mistakes, and therefore they were doomed to repeat them over and over.

Sure you are.

The area I highlighted in red is actually the root of the problem, I think. I work in customer servicee for a large wireless phone company, and although I went thru 9 weeks of training, I simply feel like I can’t do this job adequately. The more seasoned reps keep telling me ‘fake it till you make it’ but I hate feeling that way. I want to do my job correctly… not faking it. I literally have nightmares about the job several times a week. Sitting here today, I keep thinking ‘I have to go back to work tomorrow…’ I have never been under so much stress in my life.

I have nothing to help me break that stress; no vacation to look forward to, no friends that I can call and say let’s go to a movie or shopping or whatever. Honestly? I feel like I am just living each day, waiting to die.

My dogs are crate trained, but I enjoy sleeping with them (until they decide 6 AM is quite late enough thankyouverymuch) They give me security and the physical touch I crave-my Nick sleeps snuggled up to me with his head on my pillow. I would miss that terribly.

I really am trying to curb my temper, honetly. I hate the person I am becoming. I swear it’a not ME.

And hey, Aclockworkmelon… thanks so much for your understanding and support. :rolleyes:

What can I say, I’m a lover of animals.

You beat the dog. Pretending that’s okay is not the same thing as ‘understanding and support’. Like olives said, if you want to fix it, first you’ve got to own it.

I wish you well and hope you feel better soon.

As am I. Which is why I am here asking for ways to cope, to get past this. I am not pretending that I am perfect and I am TRYING to corred=ct my behavior.

Telling me what an awful person I am is not helping me OR my pets, which I love very much.

I wasn’t telling you what an awful person you are. You were in denial about whether or not you were abusing your animals. You were. Are you defending your earlier statement? Are you going to insist that you weren’t abusing them again?

Crate the dogs for a few nights so you can get a PROPER night’s sleep – from the way you are describing it you sound sleep deprived on top of everything else. My worst interactions with my animals came when I was sleep-deprived AND they were the cause of my sleep deprivation. Sometimes even ONE undisturbed night’s rest can change your outlook and give you the energy to make real change.

The dogs need to be retrained into a different schedule anyway. They aren’t going magically know it isn’t time to get up at 6am, unless you establish a new routine with firm and clear actions. So crating them and changing their feeding time should be all part of the plan anyway.

I’m sure you will miss sleeping with them but it’s only temporary. In the meantime, book yourself for a massage, and try to think of something you can plan & look forward to. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or require other people. I don’t know where you are but you can PM me and maybe I could offer some suggestions.

I have some funny stories from when I lived on the farm. Isolation combined with exhaustion will make you do really, really strange things. Many’s the time I felt my knitting group (once a week on thursdays) was the savior of my sanity, even though I wasn’t particularly close to any of the other members. Just something to look forward to, someplace to go where people would regard me with friendly interest… it means a lot sometimes.

I can’t help with your animals, but I can share some advice on this. I’m currently a QA rep, but have been in customer service for over 15 years. Have a chat with your supervisor, or your trainer, or someone you trust. Let them know how much you care about the job and doing it right. And you do obviously care, because “fake it til you make it” is not good enough for you. Ask them to find someone that you can go to for help. IMHO, “fake it til you make it” is a crap excuse. If I ever heard anyone say that in my call center, I’d report them. That’s not fair to you, and it sure isn’t fair to your customers.

Let someone at work know. Ask for help. I know there has to be someone there who cares. As you learn, the stress will decrease: but you need to let some of this go now. Let me know if you need any kind of support here: programs and products may be different, but good customer service never changes.

Listen to these incredibly wise words. You are in a vicious cycle right now – the pets are behaving badly because their alpha is acting crazy, but you’re in no place to deal with behavioral problems so you act even more crazy and they honestly don’t know what to do.

What I would do if I were you is focus on something manageable that can improve the situation – you’re already overwhelmed, so right now you need to look for straightforward steps you can take that are realistic to stick to when you’re stressed.

Putting myself in your shoes, here’s the list I would write:

  1. This is a tough time for everyone, so behavioral / housebreaking problems are going to happen while we all adjust. For now, let’s cut ourselves and all the pets some slack – we’re not bad owners, they’re not bad pets, it’s just a turbulent time.

  2. If someone pees, poops or barfs on the floor, everyone goes outside while I clean it up and/or calm down.

  3. No hitting, for any reason. If I find myself wanting to hit, everyone goes outside. If I snap and hit, everyone goes outside. While they’re out, my job is to vent my anger and/or calm down. No one comes back in until I’m OK again.

  4. Take a few minutes to lay on the floor with the dogs every night. It will help remind you why you love them, and reassure them that the pack is still OK even if you’re a bit wacky lately.

Your own list will probably look different, but the goal is to get yourself into a routine where you cut yourself some slack, give yourself manageable ways to deal with upcoming problems without losing it, and make sure you have regular positive interactions with the animals (which will hopefully cut down on negative attention-seeking episodes).

Good luck – things will get better.

Yeah…my thoughts were maybe the animals were acting out because they know that you, the owner, is so stressed.

No one wants to hear, “I’m an abuser,” but it’s not like only cartoonishly evil people are abusers. Anyone can be one, and I think it’s important to hear that not as an insult but as fact–if it’s true.

I didn’t tell you were an awful person, but to say you aren’t abusing them when you twice admit striking them in your OP, once in a “beat the holy hell out of” fashion, is, at worst a lie, at best - denial. Whether you like it or not - that is the very definition of abuse.

You want ways to cope and correct your behaviour? Seek professional help. I’m not saying this in a “you’re a shitty person” kind of way, but if you’re so…whatever, that you’re taking your anger and frustrations out physically and verbally on innocent animals - you need more help to get past this than you’re going to find on a message board.

And as a fellow lover of animals, you should want to remove them from this type of environment.

I propose a moratorium on the use of the word “abuse” in this thread on the grounds it does nothing to fix the damn problem and quite a damn lot to make the OP feel even worse and increase her stress. Honestly, do you people really think she doesn’t know what she did was not okay? She knows, that’s why she’s asking for help. She wants to make sure it never, ever happens again. Again, that’s why she’s asking for help. So what, precisely, does squabbling about the label do to help her achieve her goals? Not a damn thing, near as I can tell. So what’s the point of beating this particular horse?

Papsett, I understand exactly where you’re coming from. I’ve been there–sleep deprivation due to schedule changes and chronic sleep disruptions, long days tending to people who are swirling vortices of need and suck you dry of every ounce of mental and emotional energy, and then you get the crew at home making demands you have no ability to meet, which makes you snap and do something you’re ashamed of, which just adds to the stress and makes things even worse. It’s a shitty, shitty place to be, but there are some concrete steps you can take to make it less shitty.

First, you stop beating yourself up for the past. You’re human, that means you get to make the occasional mistake, especially the kind that doesn’t do any long-term damage. And believe me, you haven’t done any long-term damage. Even dogs who have had the sort of abuse that will get your ass prosecuted under animal cruelty laws recover with kindness and consistent treatment; your dogs will get over a few smacks on the ass within weeks. The past is history, it can’t be changed, so let it go.

Second, stop dealing with the critters right when you get home. If they stay outside while you’re gone, leave 'em out while you sit on the couch and put your brain in neutral for 10 minutes or so. If they stay inside, greet them, pet them for a few seconds, and then put their hairy asses the fuck outside for a bit. They probably need to potty by then anyway. Then, when you feel a bit more able to cope with them, let them in and give them attention.

Third, get yourself a decent night’s sleep by any means necessary. Board the dogs. Evict them from the bedroom. Give them sedatives to make them sleep longer. Give yourself sedatives to make you sleep longer. Evict them all from the bedroom when they wake up and then go back to bed. Whatever it takes. Getting some decent sleep will make a huge difference in how much you’re able to cope with.

This stuff won’t fix the problem, your stress from work because you don’t have enough experience to feel confident in your job. There’s no cure for that but tincture of time, I’m afraid. But this will give you some coping strategies while you wait for time to take time.