Advocating for your dog... what does that mean?

There is a backwards convention in our society that says all dogs and puppies can be mauled, harassed, smothered, hugged, kissed by everyone including complete strangers and they must like it... oh, and if the respond negatively then THEY are a bad dog.  Forgive me, but this is simply not true.  Dogs are entitled to their personal space and they are entitled to be treated with respect. 

You are under NO OBLIGATION to allow strangers, other dogs, kids, adults, dog lovers, other dog owners, pet people, non pet people.... do you see where I'm going here? 😉 or anyone or anything to touch, grope, chase, pet, hug, kiss, stare at, talk to, or fixate on your puppy/dog. If your puppy/dog doesn't enjoy these things (and most don't!) then just say NO! Remember that commercial back in the '90s?  'Back off! Get your own sandwich!' It's totally true, people need to back off and you are completely within your rights to tell them so (politely 😉) if they are making unwanted advances on your puppy/dog.  When I chose to adopt my puppy Louise, I didn't make that choice so that other people could satisfy there emotional desires to maul a puppy at Louise's expense. I adopted her because my husband and I wanted her to be part of OUR family. Think if it like this... you are at the grocery store and you see a cute toddler sitting in her Mom's shopping cart. So without asking you just walk over, pick her up, start hugging and kissing her.... the kid starts to scream because she hates this and you are making her uncomfortable.... but you don't care because YOU like playing with kids so you continue to hold her against her will. Is that acceptable? No, of course not!! And it's not acceptable with someone else's puppy/dog either! I'm pretty passionate about this point because I've seen so many puppies harassed by 'dog lovers' into having to defend themselves against the unwanted attention by growling, snapping, biting, etc.  If these folks don't have the skills to read and respect a puppy's/dog's body language when that puppy/dog is saying buzz off (long before it gets to growling, snapping, biting) then we as owners MUST step in and stop them.  To badger a dog/puppy who is trying to hide or get away, looking uncomfortable, growling, snapping, etc. ONLY servers that persons own emotional needs... not your dog/puppy's. In this scenario, they may be badgering your dog/puppy until he has to react aggressively to make the harassment stop.... But what's worse, your dog/puppy has now learned how to use aggression to control people. This is such an unfortunate situation that I see ALL THE TIME.  So, what can we do about it? Well, to start... practice what you preach. So if you don't want this to happen to your dog/puppy, don't do it to anyone else's puppy or dog. Always ask permission before touching, talking to, or interacting with someone else's dog. Give that owner a chance to make the right choice for their dog. And if they say no, just accept it and move on.... it's not personal. Next up is be prepared... take a buddy or spouse with you to 'run interference' if you have to go somewhere busy and are expecting unwanted attention. Take your crate! The safest place for your dog/puppy is always in his crate with the door closed. Advocate!!! Practice your polite 'No thank you's' and don't be shy about stopping people from advancing on your dog/puppy. You will get some odd looks and likely some back handed comments but just remember, they are being extremely rude with their unwanted advances (remember the toddler in the grocery store example?) and you are doing everything right when you advocate for your dog/puppy so who cares about a grumpy stranger, right? And lastly, focus on your training exercises. When I'm in public with a dog of any age my attention is squarely on that dog. I'm paying close attention to how he's feeling and behaving and I'm not inviting attention from strangers by making eye contact, saying hello, etc. It's just me and my dog in our safe little bubble.  To have a dog who can calmly and politely be in the presence of people, animals, distractions, out in public, etc. is all you need... it's not necessary for a puppy or dog to physically interact with everyone and everything he encounters... especially if he's the sort who gets uncomfortable in these situations. So remember to always advocate for our furry friends because they have the right to feel safe and comfortable in all situations ❤️

Kristen Cameron