Please Don’t Tell Me How To Raise My Dog

A Jack Russell Terrier dog relaxes in the grass with his tongue out

Your dog is not my dog, and my life is not my life.

If you’ve ever met me, you’d know that I’m somebody who barely has a moment to myself. If I’m not blogging, I’m running the family home, out with the dog, or spending time with my family. Even my Google Nest Minis are programmed to wake me up at 7am on a weekday so that I can maximise my efficiency with my time. Fitting it all in matters to me.

Unfortunately, in the nearly five years that we have had little Hugo, I’ve encountered a lot of advice from people who think I live my life exactly the same as they do- except that I don’t.

One of the biggest assumptions about bloggers (by people who aren’t bloggers) is that we have plenty of free time. You just write a piece, stick it up and carry on with your day. So few people really take the time to look at an article that they’ve read and understand quite how much work goes into it. This is what I love showing people.

When you read a blog post, it’s not just text. It’s images, layouts, links and SEO. There is so much more to blogging that goes on, besides just writing. Even if we’re not reading, we might be researching, recording or sampling. Maybe we’re working on a book or a new product. Whatever it is, there is always something!

One of the people that I have had run-ins with is, dare I say it, my own Mum. Mum loves to walk her dog in the morning, and that’s completely understandable because that’s what works for her. For me, I like to get up and get my blogging done in the mornings, then have lunch and take Hugo for a walk before I get on with the housework. It’s a kind of meditative practice for me, a chance to shift the gears from appealing to my audience, to becoming a housewife and dog mom.

While I write, Hugo is having his first meal. He has the first half of his daily kibble allowance in a Kong Wobbler, so that he is both fed and mentally stimulated while I work. That works for me, and I’ve made it work for him, too, which is why I don’t like to be told when I should be walking my dog.

Sometimes, getting out with Hugo is physically impossible for me. If it’s icy or muddy, a slip or fall could aggravate my Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I know this, so on the days when I can’t walk Hugo, I have to explore other methods and means of exercising him. Sometimes, that means that we play indoors with a tennis ball, or we do some scent play. Whatever we do, it’s all about tiring him out, bonding together and having some fun,

One of the best things that you can do for your dog is to vary their routine. Give them something new and exciting, a new game or a new activity. Hugo loves the Nerf Tennis Ball Launcher, and for so long as I remember to only pull back the launcher to about halfway, it’s been seemingly quite safe to use indoors. As long as he is getting some form of exercise or play and he is having fun, it’s not essential that we make it to the park everyday. It’s preferred, but it’s not essential. He still gets play and plenty of breaks outside.

In the upcoming months, I am going to be recruiting an ‘accompanying dog walker’ to join me on dog walks. Hugo’s welfare does matter to me, but I am limited by my own disabilities. A dog walker was not an option for me, Having a companion will mean that I get exercise, too. As much as saving time sounds great, a dog walker can’t exercise both of us for me.

Perhaps my biggest grievance is the people who tell me how to train my dog, as though the way I train my dog is wrong. The way I train my dog is through positive reinforcement, and that’s the way that it’s going to stay.

Not so long ago I received some unwelcome advice about using an old rolled-up newspaper to train my dog by hitting him, but one of the other examples I can recall all too well was at a Summer Fayre. My beloved late Jack Russell mix, Milo, was barking at an Irish Setter, and I was trying to move him on.

“You want to get him a shock collar” came the voice. I spun around, a man in a long trenchcoat and a flat cap was behind me.

“I use them with my Collies to stop them going through the fence. It soon stops them” he went on. I was disgusted.

To me, and many other dog owners and lovers, electric shock collars are nothing short of cruel and inhumane. I may crate train my dog (which some people regard as cruel), but the crates I use are always bought in accordance to the dogs size, and they are given a Kong full of tasty treats for, typically, the car journey. I want my dog to want to do what I ask them to do, and I want them to be happy to work or to do as I ask, for me. If my dog isn’t happy, then I will endeavour to work out what’s wrong and what I can do to resolve it.

At our local dog walk park, there is another lady who seems to like approaching strangers and telling them how they should care for their dog. It isn’t just me, on my last encounter, she was lecturing the poor owner of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Even as I write this post, Hugo is led behind my chair. He’s not there because he’s been tied to me or the chair, he’s there entirely of his own accord. Periodically, I’ll lean down and fuss him and tell him that he’s being good, which in turn makes him happy to lay beside me quietly. Doesn’t that tell you something about the bond that we share? No harsh methods and no aggression needed.

Don’t forget, your dog is not my dog, and your life is not my life. If you’re tempted to dole out some unwanted doggy advice, please bite your tongue and remember how you would feel if someone did it to you. Even if we aren’t perfect, many dog owners are trying their absolute best.

I hope this post has given you some thought and maybe you too have some experience of unsolicited dog advice. Where have you had unhelpful guidance from? Why not share your stories in the comments?

Sending you lots of fuzzy cuddles,

Until next time,

Stay safe & have fun,

Helen xx

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