Best advice I can possibly give….

“Be your dog’s advocate.”

That is, I think, the best advice I can give to people with dogs.

“Be your dog’s advocate!”

That is, I think, the best advice I can give to people who are handling dogs with a variety of behavioral issues or special needs.


Being your dog’s advocate will not, alone, rehabilitate a dog.  What it will do is protect him/her, keep others safe (if the dog is fearful/aggressive/reactive/etc) and really give your dog a reason to trust you.

We must be our dogs’ voices.  I see it so frequently in my everyday life where dogs are screaming that they are uncomfortable, fearful, or otherwise concerned in a situation and their humans do nothing positive about it.  They just let the dog suffer through an uncomfortable situation.  Equally as concerning is that the owners don’t just ignore the dog who is uncomfortable, they don’t even realized the dog is uncomfortable.  Depending on the situation, this could be potentially very dangerous.

This phrase rings in my ears every single time that I see a dog who is fearful during a dog/dog interaction and gets hard corrections or alpha rolled by an ignorant owner.  I struggle not to yell, “HEY! Instead of body slamming your dog into the ground, how about advocate for him and keep him safe!”  When a dog is barking and backing away from another dog, he does not need alpha rolled.  He needs his handler to step forward and make the scary thing go away or get the dog out of the situation ASAP (whatever the situation warrants).


I do not knowingly put my dogs in situations where there is a good chance that they will fail–when Shayne was very fearful of people and new places, I didn’t bring her to the pet store on Saturday afternoons to shop.

If an off-leash dog is approaching us, I try any number of things to get the dog to go away and leave us alone.  I do not just watch awe-struck as bad things happen

If someone is letting an on-leash dog invade my dogs’ space, I can be blunt and rude if I have to be to get my message across that my dogs aren’t friendly (which isn’t completely true but it is more effective in getting the other dog’s owner to listen).

I don’t let just anyone pet my dogs.  If the person seems drunk or high or something’s just off… I say no.  I don’t want to risk making my dogs feel uncomfortable enough to bark/lunge/snap or practice other unwanted behaviors

I base my decisions of  “pet or not to pet” solely on my what my dogs are telling me.  If they are indicating that they would like to interact with a person, then I let people pet but, if my pups don’t seem into it, I say no.

If I find my dogs in a situation that is making them overly uncomfortable I do everything I can to get them the heck out of Dodge.

On the occasion there is a breakdown and one of my dogs has a reaction, I take responsibility for failing to manage the situation well enough to allow my dogs to succeed and do my best to learn from the mistake.

It may be a stretch, but I think nutrition and vet care are just two more ways that I can advocate for my dogs.  Dogs eat what we feed them and have to accept the medical care offered by the people and I think making educated decisions regarding these two things is an important part of my dogs’ well-being.





About Success Just Clicks

I'm a dog trainer and enthusiast who moonlights as a blogger and custom tug-toy maker.
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5 Responses to Best advice I can possibly give….

  1. Jodi Stone says:

    I think SOMETIMES people don’t realize their dog is uncomfortable, they just don’t know the signs. Before I started blogging I didn’t know about lip licks etc

    • Jodi, I absolutely agree that many times people just don’t know what to look for in terms of stress signals. I would like to see all dog adopters sent home with a body language poster LOL so they know what things to look for if their dog is stressed LOL!!

  2. Pingback: Pup links! « Doggerel

  3. Tucker's Mom says:

    Great post! You know, for sixteen years, I lived with a Malamute/Chow mix who was, and remains, one of the great loves of my life, and who I miss keenly even almost four years after his passing. But the love for him that I felt was NOT because he was such an easy dog to live with. He wasn’t. He was a challenge in more ways than one – his awesome, off the charts energy level and his razor-sharp intellect were just two things about him that made him a dog that really forced me to elevate my “game.” But by far the biggest thing was that when he was in the midst of a fear period at about thirteen months old we were attacked while out walking by a very large, aggressive, off-leash dog. I didn’t do everything I probably should have to rehab him from this experience, mainly because I didn’t know everything I SHOULD do, though he did rebound significantly but was never entirely comfortable around dogs larger than himself, regardless of gender. But what I DID do successfully was be an advocate for him, and help him make his way in the world where we occasionally would meet dogs larger than he was, some of which were off-leash and infringing in his space. It did occasionally create issues, such as when a neighbor down the street adopted a St. Bernard that he would walk off-leash. The dog never ran off, but wasn’t really in his control either. It got to the point that anytime I’d see that neighbor coming down the street towards us, I’d do an about face and walk the other way. Which prompted my neighbor, not realizing the motivation for my behavior, to become offended and resentful. After hearing of his feelings from another neighbor, I had to go down and explain myself, and I don’t know that he ever really understood, but at least he knew that I didn’t hate him. He never did stop walking the dog off-leash, though, and he never really did get him under what I felt was sufficient control. So I just continued to turn around and walk the other way whenever I saw them coming, though I did try to remember to wave and smile as I did so.

  4. This is something we run into when there are little kids at the dog park. With our Beagle, kids can run up to her and manhandle her any way they want, she loves it. With our Terrier, though, he doesn’t know what to make of kids. He knows that the toddler we sometimes babysit is not to be chased or played with (he’s very mouthy in his play), but free running children, especially children freely running at him just freaks him out. Luckily, he has learned that he can run over to us if need be, but also, we do our best to pre-empt it by letting the parents (and the children, when the parents let them roam across the dog park) that he is not a dog who is good with kids.

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