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I’m Messy and Disorganized. Can I Still Be A Good Dog Parent?

I’m Messy and Disorganized. Can I Still Be A Good Dog Parent?

There’s one thing in dog training resources that have always given me paws pause. Dogs need structure. Dogs need a schedule. Dogs need consistency.

Just typing that out has my palms sweaty. I don’t know if that’s from coffee, or if, after seven years with Matilda and Cow, I’m still doubting myself.

Can you relate?

We don’t work on training every day. Some days all structure goes out the window. And sometimes we have perfect days where we get plenty of exercise, time for training, playtime, and fresh meals, and I remember to brush their teeth before we go to bed.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with ADHD-Inattentive type, but I don’t want to get into that too much here. And I realize that you don’t have to have ADHD or depression or anxiety or any particular mental health condition to relate to this.

No matter what flavor of brain you have, it’s hard to juggle making meals, caring for yourself, caring for human family members, making money, keeping your home clean, and brushing your dog’s teeth.

If you’re struggling to “do it all” as a dog parent, and you feel guilt on a regular basis because of that – you’re a friend of ours. And if you don’t – you’re a friend too, but please teach us your ways.

Keeping Our Home Clean

I have to admit, I’m insanely jealous of pet influencers on Instagram who can take an impromptu shot of their dog eating breakfast, and their surrounding home environment is clean, bleach white, and free of random clutter.

I take so many cute photos and videos of my pets, but when I go to upload them, I realize there’s gross fuzz on the carpet, a shoe in the corner, that scrunchie I’ve been looking for, a phone charger, plastic bags… just stuff. And it feels awful.

One thing that has been a huge help is our robot vacuum. I have this Kenmore one. It was about $150 bucks, a relatively cheap model. I’d never had one before so I didn’t want to spring for a more expensive one.

Though basic, it has helped. When I run it, I have to supervise it and pick up loose dog leashes, shoes with laces, dog toys, or anything else on the floor that it might “choke” on.

As a result, my carpet is cleaner and my living room floor is more clear than it once was.

But it’s still hard. Decluttering, donating unloved dog toys, and cutting back on useless purchases has helped a bit, too. Having less to clean = less cleaning, of course.

Doing Less

I don’t think I’ll ever regret not cleaning more often. I’ve found a decent groove for keeping our home clean and odor-free, which is much more important than just removing clutter and making it look nice. We’re healthy.

No matter how much time I spend with my dogs, I know that the day I lay them down on the vet’s table for their final visit, all I’ll be thinking about is if only I had done more with them. If only we went to the park more often, and if only we had played every single day.

But I’ll also regret not taking more photos because I’m embarrassed about clutter.

When To Ask For Help

It’s okay to be messy, spontaneous, and you. Your dog doesn’t care if there’s fur on the couch or dishes in the sink.

But this struggle can affect you and your dogs.

If you’re constantly overwhelmed, you might not have time to set aside for going to the park, reaching training goals, or basic grooming like nail trims and tooth brushing.

When the mess is at its worst, there’s not as much room for them to run around and play or get their zoomies out in the living room.

One of the worst effects of my clutter that still haunts me… about four years ago, both Matilda and Cow got into dark chocolate that I had left around, and they had to go to the emergency vet in the middle of the night. I almost lost my dogs. I feel a little sick thinking about it. And that’s definitely not from the coffee. That was the hardest night of my life.

Getting help with my ADHD has helped a lot, finding shortcuts and tools and resources have also helped, but admitting that I’m still struggling at times… just admitting it is a step in the right direction.

So… it’s all out there.

If you’ve ever felt guilty about managing responsibilities and clutter and life as a dog parent, please tell me you can relate!

And if you can’t, any advice is appreciated.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

Thank you for this. I'm 6-weeks into being a first time puppy mom and this is the first training blog I've read that didn't exacerbate my training fears/send me into a spiral of barely contained panic. While I do appreciate the opportunity to get better at making/sticking to healthy routines, if I were any good at that I would be in a much different life. We stick to the Things as routine, but the Time as maleable. Seems to be working just fine. Peace!

Thursday 3rd of February 2022

I found your blog very helpful. You described every point very clearly.plz, give me some flow treatment.

Gail & Roxie

Thursday 27th of January 2022

Thank you for this article and being confident enough to share. I would imagine I also have some sort of disorder. House work is never ending, briefly rewarding however, short lived satisfaction before it starts all over again!. Such is life. The mental work it takes to give our fur kids the very best is exhausting. I'm right with you in feeling guilty. our dilemma was not knowing enough about vaccinations, trusting a 24 hr walk in clinic when I first acquired her.....results vaccinosis. very scary. I've forgiven myself (not the vet) and made sure to educate myself. You are not alone :)


Tuesday 25th of January 2022

I knew I couldn't guarantee routine for my two so have been careful not to have a set order or things ingrained because I figure it must be quite stressful if a strong routine is broken, even if it's just too go on holiday or a vet check.

Lindsay Pevny

Tuesday 25th of January 2022

I totally agree! Our routine is... not having a routine. :)

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