Whether you just brought home a puppy, adopt a dog or are working with your current dog(s), it is important to advocate for them at each stage of their life. It is up to you to make sure they have positive interactions with professionals they will encounter. Sometimes it is important to become a leader BEFORE you get a dog, so you have that mindset within you. Don’t be afraid to tell people no! No, they cannot pet your puppy. No, you don’t want them to have that vaccination, get spayed or neutered too early or take that supplement. No, you have specific grooming requirements.
Think about your expectations BEFORE you bring your dog home. The more clarity you have in your mind, the easier it is to tell people what your goals are with your dog. You don’t have to explain WHY. It is your dog. Don’t apologize! Don’t let people bully you! Don’t let people undermine your goals with your dog.
I believe it is important to develop confidence and leadership BEFORE you bring your puppy/adopted dog home and as they grow up. If you don’t see yourself as a leader, how is your dog going to view you? Think about that – if you don’t believe in yourself, how will your dog believe in you?
I talk to a lot of dog owners and many of them have regrets about a situation or encounter with their dog. They wish they would have spoken up about a vet procedure, grooming style, interaction with a trainer or a neighbor’s dogs. Some wished they would have just taken time to think about the options before consenting to a procedure or recommendation without researching it first. Don’t be afraid to gather recommendations before making a decision. Some things are unfortunately out of our control BUT don’t dwell on those encounters. Focus on the positive, focus on your goals and focus on YOUR DOG! With support may come stress and that is OK. Dogs need stress to learn and grow but it needs to be positive stress in short amounts. We need to find the perfect balance of challenging and supporting them!
During December, take time to come up with some goals for you and your dog in 2020. Take time to read about different foods, medical procedures, vaccinations, supplements and dog sports. Talk to various professionals and learn from their expertise. Think of ways you can encourage and support your dog and have FUN!