For those who own pets, we are on the same team. We love our furry companions and consider them a part of the family. Many pet owners can tell you just how important their furry family members mean to them with an array of stories, photos, and smiles.
Pet parents can bond over their animals and share their feelings of closeness that they have with their animals, help each other with advice on pet parenting, and go on pet play dates together. On the same note of pet parenthood, it’s important to remember what not to say to other pet parents as well as what you do say.
Your Animals Are Not Your Kids
This can be a hot button issue for people on both sides of this argument, some people believe that referring to animals as children is demeaning to children and is downplaying the act of parenting human children. If you feel this way, that is your prerogative, but it’s not helpful to share that opinion to pet parents that call their animal their fur-child. Chances are it’s just a term of endearment for their pet that they care so deeply for, but it’s understood that dogs are not humans and that parenting a human is much more difficult than raising a dog.
The sentiment is not meant to offend, but to show how close a person is to their pet. So, instead of feeling personally attacked by the idea of someone else referring to themselves as a pet parent, understand that the word use has nothing to do with the comparison between babies and puppies, and is definitely not meant to downplay the difficulties of parenthood.
You Should/Shouldn’t Let Them Do That
“You let your dog on the couch? You should let your dog sleep in your bed. Don’t let him lick your face!” All of these statements are huge pet peeves for many people with pets. How you choose to train and take care of your animal is up to you, not anyone else. Therefore it becomes difficult to handle these questions and from other pet parents on both sides of the argument. Some dogs are allowed on the couch, some aren’t. It’s best to be respectful of other pet parents and what they choose to allow or not allow their animal to do.
If the animal is visiting your home, on the other hand, you are completely in the right to request that the animal not be on your furniture, for instance. The only time that it is acceptable to express your concern for how another pet parent raises their furry friend is if safety is a concern. Some common safety issues for pets include problems with swimming pool safety, toxic plants, and proper vehicle safety. If you have these concerns, SPEAK UP, otherwise, it’s okay if another pet parent allows their pup to kiss them on the mouth.
You Aren’t Punishing Your Animal Correctly
This sort of stems from the issues regarding telling another pet owner what you can and can’t allow your animal to do, but on a more extreme scale. The ways in which to punish your pet vary by pet owner and have been discussed extensively among pet experts everywhere. It’s generally been agreed upon that positive reinforcement and a focus on correction are the best and most effective ways to go about fixing bad behavior and training. However, some pet owners utilize punishment in a different way.
A slap on the butt or raised voice is used by some pet parents to let their animal know they have done something wrong. This can be an issue for many pet owners that know there is a better way to communicate a behavioral issue in an animal. On the other hand, some pet parents believe that correction isn’t a strict enough technique. Regardless, it’s important to be aware of the freedom that each pet owner has.
Depending on the circumstance, it might be helpful to give advice to the other pet owner about a technique that has worked for you in correcting bad behavior and the pet owner might really appreciate the advice. Each state has a different view on what constitutes as animal abuse as far as punishment goes, but use your gut and speak up if you feel like the punishment being used is abusive. Talk to the pet parent or contact the authorities in your area if you suspect abuse or neglect as punishments in any way. However, if the pet owner is not abusing their animal and they have a different take on behavioral correction than you do, allow them to have a different method than you do.
I Heard a Stereotype About That Breed
There are a ton of unhelpful stereotypes about nearly everything anymore. In the animal world, and the dog world specifically, there’s a ton of work being done to help certain breeds get past their stereotypes. Some of the most common breeds that have a bad rap are Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Chow Chows, among others. Many of these stereotypes stem from the intended use in breeding some of these animals. Many of them are bred for protection, military use, or police use, which creates an aggressive correlation for many people. Pit Bulls, specifically, reached the height of aggressive dogs in recent years due to their connection in dog fighting animal cruelty cases.
If you run across a pet owner with one of these breeds, they are probably sensitive about the stereotypes associated with their pup, so make sure not to assume aggression or confront them about the possibility of their animals being aggressive. As animal lovers it’s important that everyone come together in getting past these stereotypes in order to help those breeds that are being negatively affected by it.
My Animal Doesn’t Do That
Just like people, every animal is different. Some animals are shy, some are gregarious, and some are lazy. Some are stubborn, some live to please, and some are sassy. When comparing any animal or the behaviors of any animal, it’s best to remember that animals have personalities. They like different things, live differently, are trained differently, and have different backstories.
It’s generally just a good rule not to compare animals or judge the pet parenting of other owners. Discussing an animal and saying, “My animal doesn’t do that,” in a negative way is a very judgmental statement. It’s best to avoid any statements comparing a negative thing that another person’s animal is doing with the good behavior of your animal, it’s unhelpful and combative to the other owner.
Animal lovers are all on the same team and it’s best to keep that in mind when dealing with these little annoyances. Try not to offend another animal owner or be too sensitive about the comments from someone else. We all love our animals, try to do our best to raise them correctly, and spend a lot of time making sure they are happy. The community of pet parents and animal lovers should work to stay positive, offer help to each other, and focus on the safety and happiness of our pets before anything else. Communicate with that community, share stories, ask advice, and bond over your mutual love for your furry family members while being cognizant of what not to say and focus on helping one another instead.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about animal rights, bad television, and white wine. She is a volunteer at Simply Cats in Boise.