It would seem that owning, training, caring for and loving a dog would be simple. It should be a basic, straightforward process. You have the dog. The dog wants to be happy. You, the owner of the dog, wants to be happy also – and you want the dog to be happy.

The same is true for every single owner; we all have the same goals in mind, so why do we keep differing so much? And is it good for our dogs – or potentially having negative effects?

There is no straightforward answer. It’s human nature to disagree, or even to think that we have found the answer and everyone else is wrong. Some of the things to be discussed might even irritate you, because they go against what you think to be the correct way. Or – most likely – you’re going to think none of this applies to you. And maybe it doesn’t! But visit any online forum, Facebook page, or dog-centric discussion during walkies at the park – you’ll find the same thing happening. Dog owners, disagreeing with one another about the best way to be a dog owner. So what’s going on?

Dog with Ball

# 1 – There’s A Lot Of Bad Information Out There

The simple, undeniable truth: some owners just aren’t doing what’s right by their dogs. It’s unavoidable. Dog owning is incredibly popular; for most people it’s just something they grew up with, unable to remember a time when there wasn’t a dog around the house. They’ve transferred that to their own home. In the midst of this, there’s been no learning process – they do what they have always done, and inevitably, some of that is going to be wrong.

That means when they encounter someone who knows more about dog management, feeding, and training, there’s going to be a clash. The instinctive owner will just mutter: “well I’ve had loads of dogs and they’ve all been fine!” while the more knowledgeable owner tries to explain that could just have been luck.

Fighting back against tides of misinformation is difficult when you’re a knowledgeable, conscientious dog owner. Your love for dogs can mean you find the idea of just staying schtum unthinkable – you feel compelled to speak up for the sake of the dog, even if you offend the owner. But here’s the thing: offending the owner isn’t going to shame them into doing something! It’s just going to make them defensive. So keep it light and friendly, making suggestions rather than outright telling them they have been doing something wrong.

Dog Resting

#2 – Different Strokes For Different Pooches

If you have always had hyperactive, easily excitable dogs, then you will have one perspective on dog ownership. You will have your opinion on utilizing training collars, commands, instructions, and how to react to certain situations. If someone wants your advice, you can point them to a vet for neutering or more on training collars here. That’s your wheelhouse; it’s what you know and have lived.

Then take someone who has always owned placid, relaxed dogs who don’t chew half the house up if left unattended for five minutes. They might find some of the usual methods employed by the hyperactive dog owner as being unnecessary – because in their experience, with their calmer dogs, it’s not necessary. They’ll direct someone dealing with hyperactivity problems to training games or talk about the use of pheromones to calm a stressed pooch.

Golden Retriever
On the flip side, the hyperactive dog owner will think that the relaxed pooch parent is being too mild and not taking the situation seriously.

Is either approach wrong? Not at all! Vets agree with both, as do behavior experts (though they, too, can have their biases). It’s important to understand that your experience of a dog is not universal. Dogs have strong personalities, quirks, and differences – it’s part of why we love them! So saying that every case should be handled in the same way is unhelpful at best, and just plain naïve.


#3 – We Want To Feel Superior

Yes, it’s time to acknowledge one of the less pleasant sides of human nature: sometimes, we just like to feel superior.

It’s important to see how this can be a factor because, if we don’t address it, then we can make life unpleasant for the “non-believers” who don’t subscribe to our specific methods. If we have a happy, healthy, content dog that rarely barks and doesn’t cause trouble, then… we’re going to be smug.

And to an extent: we totally should be! What’s been described there is a happy dog who is enjoying their life, and that’s a true testament to the time and effort that you have put in. Being smug isn’t necessarily a bad thing; most of us are guilty of negative self-talk, so it’s great that there’s a part of your life that you’re proud of.

However, that can transcend into feeling superior. Before you judge someone for their methods of caring for their dog, try and remember that not everyone is equal. They might not have the same level of intelligence as you; they might not have your experience; you might have different money and time to spend on learning about advanced canine care. These things don’t mean their dogs aren’t happy – dogs are relatively simple creatures, to an extent – it just means they’re not quite so robust as you are.

While you can offer help, you have to be sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Do you want to help for the sake of the dog, or do you want to help because it makes you feel good? The two can go hand-in-hand of course, but if you continue to offer direction even when it’s been rejected, then it might be time to bite your lip and let be. If you fear for the well-being of the dog, there are plenty of avenues to explore to get the dog the help you feel it needs. But if it’s just a disagreement on what type of food is best or if one walk a day is sufficient, it’s important to acknowledge your help might not always be welcome.

We all love our dogs and we want the best for them, so sometimes, we’ll clash heads about how we should go about doing that. So long as our dogs are happy and healthy as we perceive them, then there’s no need to go giving someone a ruff time!

(Sorry – couldn’t resist.)


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Filed under: All About Dogs

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