Your dog isn’t a right.
In my line of work, I see a lot of excellent owners. People who put in the time, money and effort that goes into having a dog. But I also see many more who aren’t on the same page as their pets.
The guy who leaves his dog tied in the yard all day, and then complains about barking. The parents who bought a dog as a toy for their kids (sorry, to “teach them responsibility”). The woman who tells me that her obese pug doesn’t need to go on a diet because “that’s just how they look”.
Customers who completely miss major stress signals in their dogs - lip licking, backing away, even shaking. Who roll their eyes and tell me “trust me he’s fine” when I point out that the dog isn’t coping (usually in the context of “no, I’m not comfortable fitting a jacket on that dog” or “no, I’m not going to give him a pat just now. I’d like to, but he wouldn’t like it.”)
I just wish there was a license, a test, for owning dogs. A compulsory course in breed selection, enrichment, training, socialisation, desexing. I want owners to see the statistics: that “behavioural problems” are the overwhelmingly leading cause of euthanasia, and that the average age of an Australian dog is 3 ½ years because owners weren’t prepared. I wish puppy school or early private consultations were mandatory, and that trainers were better regulated. I wish that benchmarks in socialisation had to be passed before dogs were sent out for things like grooming (one of the most dangerous facets of our workplace, in my opinion!).
Dogs aren’t a right; they’re a privilege. They’re an intelligent animal with high demands in terms of enrichment, exercise and socialisation, arguably higher than any other pet. And they’re also more than capable of harming or even killing you, if driven to it. I wish owners had to earn the right to keep a dog, had to achieve a special license.
Well-meaning owners who don’t quite have the resources for a dog should probably get a cat instead. Cats are generally less expensive, more independent, whilst still quite a lot of work and still up for cuddles and pats. Although to be honest, a lot of owners I meet would be better with a fish or something.