Thursday, August 14, 2008

You (don't) gotta fight, for the right....

In my puppy classes I teach the humans that they have the right to control who interacts with their dogs and how they do it. They need to realize that their puppies rely on them and if they think the puppy will be overwhelmed by a person or situation it is their responsibility to help the puppy through it and get the heck out. One of the most common, and potentially most damaging, situations is when children swarm a puppy and love on it without asking. I tell people they are within their rights to step in front of their dog, tell the children to slow down or back off, and refuse them the privilege of petting the dog if the children can't or won't follow instructions. How nice they are about it is up to them. :) There are just too many dogs in the world who are skittish around children because of a bad experience during an impressionable time and that makes life so much more difficult for the dog and its owner. There are many other examples of times that owners can and should step in to control a situation with their dog as well, and no one should feel guilty about doing it, regardless of the response of other people. Maybe that makes you the crazy dog lady/guy, but hey they don't have to live with your dog - you do. You need to do what you feel is right for you and your dog.

Parents also have the right to insist that certain behavior is or is not allowed around their child. If you feel strongly that TV time should be restricted, then the babysitter that you pay should not allow unrestricted access. If you feel that adults should be referred to as Mr. or Ms So&So, then it's ok for the child to not use the adult's first name even if invited. And if you feel that racist or denigrating comments should not be used around an impressionable child (who likes to do impressions), then it is completely within your right to request that those comments not be said in front of the child. You may be accused of being over protective or overly sensitive in these situations, but ultimately, YOU are the parent. You make the decisions.

Puppies and babies don't come with owner's manuals. As the ones responsible for these lives all we can do is the best we can. We do what we feel is right and it is our right, as the responsible party, to insist that certain reasonable behaviors be followed in our homes or with our vulnerable responsibilities. And there is no reason to feel guilty about it.