Guild of Shepherds & Collies

Why You Need To Be Your Dog’s Advocate

Did you know that some herding breeds are sensitive to anesthetic medication?  I didn’t either until I became a helicopter dog mom and started doing my own homework on our dogs’ health and nutrition.

When we brought home our first two puppies, I quickly realized that my “experience” raising a dog when I was a kid didn’t count.  My mom raised a dog, I played with him.

Once I realized that I didn’t have a clue about raising dogs, I became a helicopter mom and often searched online about dog health and called (harassed?) the vet every time something new happened.  My obsession inspired a pet blog where I share what I learned with others.

Be Your Dog’s Advocate

Raising littermates helped me learn how to navigate the Internet to get the answers I needed quickly, how to form intelligent questions for our vet, and introduced me to a community of dog lovers like myself.

I also learned that our dogs count on us to be their voice with the veterinarian, dog trainer, and strangers we encounter.  I’m not a fan of conflict and tend to run away the moment someone raises their voice.  My dogs have helped me get over my discomfort with tension and I power through for their sakes.

Because our dogs can’t speak, it’s important that we speak for them.

Do Your Own Homework on Dog Health and Nutrition

One of my dogs developed arthritis at an early age (before two years) and the veterinarian at the time mentioned amputation and told me that he’d have a shorter life.  I believed him and started educating myself about arthritis in preparation for this painful life.

Thank heavens I did my own homework, because I learned that (1) our veterinarian wasn’t correct about our dog’s diagnosis and (2) I learned that there were many things I could do to help my dog live a full, healthy life.  He’s gone from a dog that wouldn’t put weight on one leg to a dog that races around our property like the Border Collie mix that he is.

Take Recommendations, but Follow Your Gut Too

It’s easy to allow a pet professional take the lead, because they have the education and background.  Although their recommendations should be considered, how we raise our dogs is our choice.

A dog trainer recommended forcing one of our puppies into a social situation with other puppies to help her get past her fears.  I knew this wasn’t the right course, but I trusted her insight and sat my puppy down in the middle of a puppy playdate.

She was swarmed by puppies, ran to a corner, shaking while trying to hide.  I immediately pulled her out of the puppy pile and calmed her down.  I knew that I was reinforcing her fear, but I also knew that I had created the fear by not trusting that I knew my puppy better than the trainer.

Today, Zoey is well socialized.  She does better with smaller groups and likes to take her time when meeting new dogs.  Taking her (and her brother) to the dog park during non-peak hours provides her with the space and security to meet other dogs.

You Are an Expert in All Things Related to Your Dog

Over the past five years, I’ve learned that it’s important to take in all advice from people who mean you well, but in the end, my dogs are my responsibility and if something goes wrong, it’s me who pays the price.

Finding pet professionals who respect your authority in all things about your dog isn’t easy, but it’s important.  We have the fortune of being part of an immense dog lover community – take advantage of that resource and ask for recommendations for veterinarians, dog trainers, nutritionists, doggy day cares, groomers and more.

Leave reviews for the professionals that you work with – positive and negative – as this act is paying it forward for other dog lovers.

And don’t be afraid to be firm and raise your voice.  I’m okay with offending someone today, as long as I don’t regret failing to speak up tomorrow.  I can apologize for the offense; I’ll never forgive myself if one of my dogs is hurt, because I didn’t open my mouth.


Article By:
Kimberly Gauthier
Keep the Tail Wagging

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