What does it mean to be an advocate for your puppy or young dog?
Dogs don’t have a voice to speak up when something is wrong. They may try to alert you by barking, howling, or whining, but they can’t say actual words. Dogs use behavior to communicate.
When dogs are young, they are very impressionable. Certain events or situations can impact the rest of their lives. A bad incident could instill a fear that becomes extremely difficult to shake as the puppy grows older.
As dog moms, it is up to us to protect our puppies and young dogs. As their advocate, we need to make sure that we don’t put them in a situation that could potentially harm them in any way. We have to be observant and willing to keep our dogs safe no matter what.
I believe that our dogs connect us to the heart and soul of what matters in life. One of the best ways that we can keep our puppies and young dogs safe is by being their advocate. This is what I’m talking about in this post, where I reveal how you can be an advocate for your puppy or young dog.
Why puppies are so impressionable
I have an eight-month puppy called Harry, and he is hysterical. He makes me laugh every day, and I love him so much. Harry inspired me to talk about this topic of being an advocate for your puppy or young dog because puppies are so impressionable. Certain events can significantly impact a puppy’s life and not always in a positive way.
We must start building trust with our dogs at a very young age. To make our dogs feel confident, we implement the Safe, Calm, and Happy Protocol that I teach inside the Brilliant Partners Academy. When your dog feels safe, calm, and happy, you two can get through anything.
Yet, it can be challenging to be the type of advocate you want to be for your dog when you’re thrown into an unexpected social situation. How often has someone (who doesn’t know your dog as well as you do) told you the “right way” to train them? Maybe it was a friend or family member or a groomer, dog trainer, or your veterinarian.
When people give you unsolicited dog training advice, it can be tempting to turn on your heel and ignore everything they say (and who could blame you?). However, some people get offended if you ignore their advice and continue doing your own thing. Worst case scenario, they’ll take matters into their own hands and “train” or correct your puppy or young dog for you. If you are not prepared to be your dog’s advocate, this situation can get out of hand fairly quickly.
So, what should you do when other people step on your toes…and your dog’s paws?
Stand your ground as your dog’s advocate
Someone might feel like they have a right to stand in and take over the situation with your dog. This can often happen when your dog jumps up on somebody, and that person reacts by pushing them down aggressively or even hitting your dog. In their minds, they think they’re doing you a favor. They’re training your dog and showing that they are the ‘alpha.’
Another example of this is when you’re in a puppy training class, and your puppy is excited. He is having a great time barking at the other puppies. Tails are wagging, and everyone’s having a great time. But then the instructor demands silence. All of the other puppies stop barking and sit obediently next to their owners…all but yours. Your little puppy is still barking at the top of his lungs. Suddenly, the instructor marches over to you, grabs your dog’s leash and disciplines your puppy. Your puppy bows his head and pulls his ears back. His tail is tucked between his legs, and you are furious.
When events like this happen, you and your dog become disconnected from each other. Your dog is fearful, anxious, and they definitely do not feel safe, calm, or happy. Technically, it’s not your fault. The other person did it, so they are to blame, right? However, they are not your dog’s mom, you are. It’s up to you to advocate for your dog and be their voice.
How to be an advocate for your dog or puppy
As dog moms, we are responsible for building our dog’s confidence and trust. Being an advocate for your dog is so important, especially when they are young and impressionable. When they get older, they will find it easier to bounce back after an unpleasant experience because they will be more confident.
We must be very mindful of our puppies and young dogs. One bad experience is all it takes to affect our dog’s life negatively. Unless we’re sure about how our dog will react in certain situations, we need to do everything we can to protect them from events that could impact them negatively.
For example, if you don’t like how your vet treats your dog, look for a new vet. I recommend searching for a fear-free veterinary clinic in your area and switching. Doing so will be an act of kindness towards your dog because you’re removing them from a potentially upsetting situation. It would help if you worked with people (vets, trainers, groomers, etc.) who have morals and values that align with your own.
Another way that you can be an advocate for your puppy or young dog is by showing compassion. When your dog has had enough, remember that it is okay to pause and take a break.
Foresee potentially harmful or stressful situations
As your dog’s advocate, you must foresee situations that might put your puppy or dog in harm’s way. It’s difficult to predict when something bad might happen. But you may be able to anticipate such events. If your dog is nervous around other dogs off-leash, consider taking them to private training lessons rather than group training where lots of dogs are running around off-leash.
I’ve heard of so many heart-breaking stories about off-leash dogs attacking another dog who is on a leash. It’s unfortunate, and if your dog is young, an experience like that can leave them feeling very anxious and nervous around other dogs in the future.
Try your best to foresee potential threats before they become a threat. Arrange social outings with friendly dogs or stick to quiet parks for your daily walks. If you can avoid putting your puppy or young dog in potentially harmful situations, do so!
How to handle unwanted opinions
What should you do when somebody gives you their unwanted opinions about your puppy or dog?
It’s super frustrating when people think you want to hear their opinion when you really don’t. You’re busy focusing on keeping your dog safe, calm, and happy, and all in honesty, you have no interest in punishing your dog, hitting your dog, or correcting them in a way that goes against your values
Whenever someone offers their advice and you aren’t interested in hearing it (never mind putting what they say into action), the best thing to do is smile, nod, and say thank you. Let the person know that you are currently working on a plan with your dog and leave it at that. If your puppy or dog is behaving “badly,” and you’ve been given opinions as a result, apologize if it is warranted and again, let them know you are handling the situation.
In moments of high stress, you and your dog must stay connected. Your dog uses behavior to communicate, so try to be vigilant about that. If your dog needs support, be there for them and don’t feel obligated to explain yourself to other people. Try not to get distracted when you’re with your dog and make a conscious effort to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically connected with them.
If strangers approach you and your dog while you’re out for a walk and you know that the situation will make your dog excited, over-aroused, or fearful, you do not have to let them pet your dog. Just explain the situation briefly and they will understand.
Being an advocate for your dog will help you to bond with each other. Your dog’s trust in you will grow because you have kept them safe, calm, and happy.
I hope that you have a better understanding of what it means to be your puppy or dog’s advocate. With you by their side, supporting them and being their voice throughout their early life and beyond, it won’t be long before you develop a brilliant partnership that will be unbreakable.
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If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrolment!