If you never listen to another thing I have to say, listen to this. It applies to you directly. Yes, every single person who reads this, this applies to. Don’t let things happen to your dog that you KNOW are bad for them. Just don’t do it. Just stand up and say “No.”
Here’s a story for you. The other day, I took Maggie, the baby, out to the barn to feed the horses. She was in a super mega fussy mood, and she was crying her little heart out. There were a few people there who were also taking care of their horses, and one man, Dan, had brought his dog Rascal with him. Rascal is a little Rat Terrier, about 10 years old. Great little dog.
So we’re standing around, talking, remarking upon the sadness of Maggie’s life, and Rascal is sitting by my feet, giving me that semi-accusatory stare that I often get from dogs while the baby is crying. As if they are saying, “If you were any sort of mother, you would be able to HELP that child.” Dan sees his dog looking at me and the baby, and he scoops Rascal up.
“What’s that baby doing?” he coos to his dog, and proceeds to try to hold Rascal up so that he can sniff and lick my screaming infant’s face.
Advocacy in action. Listen and learn.
“Nope,” I say, and immediately, before the dog is within a foot of Maggie, turn my back to them.
Rascal’s wide eyes and leaning away from the baby told me that I made the right choice. Dan huffed quite a bit about how mean Sarah wouldn’t let Rascal see the baby, but I could see the dog visibly relax when I moved her away. By doing that and putting up with a little huffing, I saved us all from a potentially dangerous and tragic situation. Things could have been fine. Or, Rascal could have bitten my child in the face, causing a hospital trip for us and potentially death for him through no fault of his own.
Advocacy is important. I advocated for Maggie here, as well as a dog who was not mine to advocate for, really. Your dog is your responsibility, and you know him better than anyone else, even your friendly neighborhood dog trainer. If someone is trying to do something to or with your dog that you know, or even just feel queasily, that will not go well, tell the person, “No.”
You can make up a story. Tell the small child trying to pet your dog that he is sick and needs some rest. Tell the people trying to let their dog sniff yours that he has mange. Tell the trainer attempting to examine your dog, ignoring all of your dog’s body language, that you’re using an alternative method and you’d prefer not to work on this exercise yet. It’s okay to tell people NO.
Please tell people NO.
If you never do anything else for your dog, please tell people NO. Your dog can’t tell them No. The only thing your dog can do is run away, growl, or bite. Let’s make it easier on everyone involved.