Has your dog ever stomped off because you said he couldn’t share your dinner? Or stopped talking to you because you stepped on her tail? Or threw his toys at the wall when you came home late and didn’t immediately feed him? Dogs ability to forgive and not hold grudges is one the biggest lessons we can learn from them.
Think about it. One stressful day I took it out on my dog when I yelled at her because she ripped her toy apart. Nothing she hasn’t done plenty of other times. But this time it angered me because I had just finished vacuuming the house and was waiting for guests to arrive. She didn’t hold that against me. In fact, if you believe dogs ask for forgiveness, that’s exactly what she did. She sat down by my feet and nudged my elbow trying to get me to pet her. Which I did. And told her I was sorry. Later that night I apologized again and gave her extra belly rubs and kisses. She probably thought I was crazy, I seriously doubt that incident was still on her mind a couple of hours later. But it was on mine.
They say dogs’ short term memory is a mere seconds to minutes long. Which is why when your dog meets someone new and finally accepts her into your home, but after a trip to the bathroom, she goes through the greeting ceremony all over again. This also explains why you punishing your dog hours after they had an accident in the house doesn’t work. They have long forgotten they did this and have no idea why you are so angry.
Humans on the other hand, can remember details for days, weeks and even years later. If it was something that caused feelings to be hurt, we’re very capable of holding a grudge. How many times have you let your day be ruined because of a petty fight with a co-worker? Or showed up at the office angry because a driver cut you off on your way to work? Or snapped at your child because the store clerk was clearly upset that she had to stop what she was doing to ring up your purchases?
Our dogs are excellent teachers. I’m sure I’ve given my girls Izzy and Kita plenty of reasons to be mad at me and hold a grudge. But they never do. In fact, I’m going to take a cue from them and work harder on being more forgiving.