We love our dogs right? They love us too and bring us so much joy and happiness. In return for the joy and wonder they deliver us there is something very important which I'd like you to pledge to do……
Make it your mission to understand your dog and be the voice which they don't have. Ok, I know, speaking up can often feel a little uncomfortable but is it ok for your dog to bear the brunt of that discomfort instead?
There are numerous situations where we might avoid confrontation or put the pleasure of others ahead of our dogs. When that sweet old lady down the road wants to give your dog a fuss but he doesn't really like it. When that bouncy puppy comes bounding over and jumps all over your dog who is not enjoying it one bit. When your dog can't settle in the vet's waiting room as the rabbits, cats and other dogs are just too much.
So what am I suggesting you do? I'm asking you to practice stepping a little out of your comfort zone perhaps and politely but firmly start speaking up for your dog.
'Sorry sweet old lady, he's not that keen on being petted I'm afraid, have a lovely day' …. And walk on!
'Hi lovely puppy owner, my dog isn't keen on bouncy pups I'm afraid so please could you call him back/put him on the lead.'
'Hi wonderful vet receptionist, my dog can't really cope with the busy waiting area and I don't want to stress him out. We'll wait outside in the car until you're ready for us so we can come straight through. Thank you!'
These are just a few examples where your dog needs you to advocate on their behalf. So many people either ignore or don't understand dog body language. They're not intentionally making your pup uncomfortable. By speaking up you can help your dog's confidence and comfort but you are also educating people so that next time hopefully they''ll be a little more aware of the dog's perspective.
I get it, we're British and we really don't want to be rude. Perhaps it doesn't feel a big deal for your pooch to tolerate things he doesn't like for a period, he won't bite so it's really no biggie. I disagree. As humans I would hope we have boundaries for ourselves which we ensure others respect and accept and I don't feel it should be any different for our dogs.
If you read my blog about dog body language then perhaps you're also familiar now with trigger stacking. There is only so much anyone can tolerate before they blow, please do your best to protect your dog from that stress and anxiety.
Next week I will be talking about the yellow dog campaign. Perhaps if my own dog didn't suffer with arthritis and hadn't become reactive I would not have become so aware of why respecting dogs need for space is so important. I hope that by sharing these thoughts and experiences you and your pup will benefit in some way.
Happy Advocating Folks! Please do share your own experiences with us in the comments!