We all love our dogs — at least the vast majority of us do. And don’t get me wrong, if I ever see anyone being mean to my dog, Animal Control will be pulling me off the person before my pup can even think about fighting back.
It’s possible to completely overreact, though. I know you’ve seen at least one person step over the line. Here are 4 common scenarios where pet parents have totally overreacted.
1. Breed Stereotyping
You see a guy walking his dog through the park, and another dog walker comes up beside him with a pit bull. You can see that this first guy is flashing back to every media story he’s ever heard about how “dangerous” pit bulls are.
He starts screaming at this other person to get away while dragging his confused pup off at the speed of light.
OK, whoa. A lot of dogs get a bad rap in the media, and pit bulls are certainly one of them. Others include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, and mastiffs. None of these breeds of dogs are “bad.” You know what causes aggression in dogs? Human interference, poor training and abuse.
Dogs may fight with one another no matter their breed, but it’s a pretty safe bet that if this pit bull parent thought his dog was dangerous, he wouldn’t be out walking him in a dog park where there are prime opportunities to have a bad situation happen — and a potential lawsuit.
In addition, it is the responsibility of everyone to know their dog, their tendencies and whether the dog will react well to the presence of other dogs.
2. Smashing Car Windows
A dog is left in a car with all the windows rolled up, and a passer-by is horrified by this abuse. So she smashes the car windows in an effort to get the dog air. Then she calls the police, the Air Force, the National Guard and, depending on where the driver lives, his mother.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I will never advocate leaving any animal in a car for even a minute. It’s incredibly dangerous for the dog; the temperature in that mini-greenhouse soars rapidly even if it’s not all that hot out. However, the right reaction here is perhaps not one that is going to get you arrested for vandalism (at best).
The proper way is to stop and immediately call the authorities. Stay by the car and monitor the dog’s well-being until the police or Animal Control arrive. Yes, if you remain by the car you may run into the driver, and he will probably be less than thrilled that you ratted him out. If he drives off, take down the plate number and inform the authorities when they arrive.
Never walk by and do nothing, but unless the dog’s life is in imminent danger, I would not smash the car window. Let the police do that. Not only is it their job, but they probably won’t end up getting punched in the face by an irate person.
3. The Hypochondriac
Another overreaction by people who have dogs is racing to the veterinarian for every mild sneeze. Do dogs get sick? Absolutely they do, and in some cases they get very ill indeed. I must point out, however, that a slight sneeze, cough or even episode of vomiting is not always cause for panic.
When dogs eat something that does not agree with them, they’ll regurgitate it. While it’s really gross, in most cases it means nothing to their overall health. Like people, dogs will sneeze if something irritates their nasal passages, and they’ll cough if something get stuck in their throat.
What you need to watch for is repeated instances. Is Mr. Sneezy constantly sneezing and/or coughing? Constantly vomiting? That is cause for concern and warrants a call to the veterinarian. Your vet is the go-to person to determine whether your pup has fallen victim to the flu or just a lot of pollen in the air.
Common sense and knowing your pup is key. Having dealt with a special-needs dog, I can tell you that a lot of determining if your dog is ill is down to you just as much as the vet. You know your dog — she doesn’t. Keeping up to date with critical vaccinations is also a crucial step in keeping your pup healthy.
4. Obsessive Grooming
However, bathing is not something that absolutely must happen every day. Bathing your pup too often can cause skin irritations.
Don’t get me wrong — if you bathe your dog and then she finds a dead animal and rolls in it, definitely bathe her again. One or 2 back-to-back baths aren’t going to hurt her. But excessive bathing not only possibly causes skin irritation; it’s just not necessary.
So please, on behalf of all dog parents out there, stop and think before you react. A little common sense goes a long way in all these cases. Proper grooming habits, up-to-date vaccinations, understanding dog behavior and breeds, and being responsible about other dogs all have right and wrong ways to be handled.
Now, let me get off my soap box. Get out there and play with your pup — and get a little dirty. That’s what they made the vacuum cleaner for!
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