How Do I Advocate For My Dog?

Advocating is a bit of a buzzword in the dog world right now – but what is it? And what’s the best way to be your dog’s advocate?

Luckily, I’m here to help you with that!!

Advocacy is essentially knowing what your dog is trying to communicate, and communicating it on their behalf. ⁠It’s looking after the emotional well-being of your dog.

⁠Part of why we don’t advocate for our dog is something relating to flock mentality, and the human reluctance to question authority.⁠

Often times, pet owners can find it tough to say what they think their canine companions need. Sometimes this is because of the fact that sometimes we put too much respect in a qualification, and forget to ask the questions we should – let alone to say to someone who is very qualified “Uhm, sorry, but Fido doesn’t like it when you’re doing that, is there another way we can do this?”

Yet, this is massively important because our dogs don’t have a voice, and until recently, they’ve been drastically misunderstood. (shocking, huh? We’ve been to the moon, but we’re only NOW understanding man’s best friend.)⁠ It’s something that social media is pretty passionate about, but that the internet is still a little behind.

For that change to happen, for that change to further, for more people to learn what our dogs are? Advocacy must begin.⁠ So here’s a few simple ways that you can be a good advocate for your dog.

Shelby redbone coonhound hound wearing olive green wilderdog harness
One of the way I advocate for my dogs is to ensure that even when we’re not home, that their care and exercise is not compromised. We’ve struggled to find a trustworthy pet sitter, but it’s been worth it.

Why Should You Advocate For Your Dog?

A lot of dog owners don’t realise that they can sometimes neglect their dogs needs – and whilst this often isn’t animal abuse – it’s also not the optimum for either the dog or the dog parents.

Advocating for your dog can decrease your dog’s stress, and yours.

  • It can minimise bite risks.
  • It creates a more optimistic dog.
  • It creates a more sociable dog.
  • And the most important part?
  • Is that it definitely creates a dog who is more confident because they know you have their back!

I mean, yeah, I’m humanising that a little, but it definitely has an impact on the bond between you both.

7 Ways To Advocate For Your Dog

1 – Advocate At The Vet or Groomers

Oh gosh, it’s so common for dogs to gain an intense fear of that particular vet practice. It can happen so quickly too. Because oftentimes, your vet and your groomer aren’t required to

It’s in your dog’s best interest for you to inform your vet or groomer the best way to handle your dog during your vet appointment, or groomers visit. Even little things like “She’s being odd about you touching her tail at the moment, so just be careful” – simple!

But also things like the waiting room at the vet’s offices, advocating might be as simple as finding your dog a little extra space, or opting out of the waiting room, and asking reception to grab you outside when the vet is ready to ensure your dog has a positive association with the vet and positive interactions at the groomers!

2 – Learn Dog Body Language

Your dog’s entire body is a dictionary. Your dog’s body language is a huge part of how they communicate. And to be an effective advocate, knowing and understanding your dog’s body language is the first step. Because the more you understand, the more you can work it in to how you and your dog work together, and how others work with your dog.

It’s also really important to listen early in their signs of stress. Small stress signals like a lip lick, looking away or showing whale eye.

If you want help with things like canine body language, I have a good chunk of content on it, or Doggie Language by Lili Chin is a fantastic investment!

3 – Restrict interactions as appropriate

Whether it’ with a small child, or with a family member, or keeping your smaller dog away from a larger dog who might be intimidating for them. It might even be a specific situation or a specific event, but if you’re noticing signs in your dog’s behavior that they’re not comfortable in their current surroundings? Then opting out of interactions is totally acceptable.

This is also something you can manage with the 3D’s also.

yellow bandanas for nervous dogs can highlight a nervous or anxious dog who may need space
yellow bandanas for nervous dogs can highlight a nervous or anxious dog who may need space – but do they actually work?

4 – Use Flags & Coats To Highlight Your Dogs Needs

Flags, capes and coats are not just for your local service animal! You can totally take this one into your own hands and purchase them for pretty cheap, whether it’s a collar that says “Do Not Touch” or a cape that says “No Dogs” or “Deaf” – these can even go on your dog’s leash. This way you’re allowing your dog display their own needs! This way, whether you’re deterring off-leash dogs or giving more personal space to allow your dog to feel comfortable in their current situation.

5 – Muzzle train

This is one of those important foundation skills that a lot of people underestimate. Because, the time a dog needs a muzzle, it’s added training that you may not have done. So, whether you have a grumpy dog, or a social dog, teaching them to wear a muzzle comfortable is definitely the best thing you can do before it comes to that emergency situation.

If you want to find the best muzzle for your dog, head over to the best muzzles list.

6 – Opt For Force Free Practices

Its no secret that in the learning in a positive manner fosters optimism in dogs, but it’s also a phenomenal way to advocate for them. Attending a positive training class will give you a variety of ways to teach good manners, to integrate your and your dog’s life together fully such that they’re a perfect fit for your life at home.

spaniel chasing ball
of leash dogs in the park are a pain in the butt, and sometimes you must tell the other dog parent to recall their dog in order to advocate for your dog.

7 – Give Guidance To Your Dog Sitter/Dog Walker

Give instructions, and getting someone who follows those instructions. It sound so simple, but a huge way to advocate for your dog is to ensure that the care your dog is given is as consistent as possible. Guidance for your sitter or walker would cover everything from how much to feed, to the best way to walk them or similar. This way, you’re giving the carer the clearest instruction to provide the best care for your dog.

Simple stuff, but super effective.

Where To Start

It’s easiest way to start in your own home. Start with simple things by satisfying your dogs needs with enrichment (Consider your dog’s breed characteristics). And beyond that? Learning to say “no” at public events, or explaining to your vet that “Actually we’re just going to do vaccines today, if that’s okay” is the simple way to start becoming your dog’s advocate.

Also, Don’t Forget You’re Human.

Aka, you’re going to make mistakes. Heck, even after years of training, I still make errors and walk away from a situation going “Ah, I could have handled that better…”. Afterall, sometimes it’s hard to communicate our own needs, let alone our dogs. But, I do know, that for me? I find that advocating for my dog was the like a gateway for me to become my own advocate!

Be Your Dog’s Advocate

These are small things, but they can give you a hard time – and I totally appreciate that. But every step you’ll take will help you to improve your relationship with your dog, an give them more confidence in you.

If you want to know how to become your dog’s best advocate then why not get in touch and book a bark day with me and we can discuss exactly how to do that.


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