I recently taught a seminar where I asked a participant if I could handle her dog to demonstrate a specific technique.
She said no. Nicely but…No.
I doubt this comes up more than a handful of times a year – that someone pays money to get my input, brings a dog to see me, and then chooses not to let me handle their dog.
That handler believed that her dog would not benefit or might be distressed by going with a stranger. So what did she do? She advocated for her dog.
GOOD FOR HER.
If more people would do that – stand up to their friends, instructors, judges, presenters, and advocate for their dogs, then I would hear a lot less of the story that starts…
“He was fine until my instructor took him and ____”
You fill in the blank.
If you opt to own and train a dog, you are also opting to advocate for your dog. It doesn’t matter how “nice” or “well-respected” or “force free” that presenter is – it’s your dog. Your responsibility. At the end of the day, will your dog still see you as an advocate or will you have become part of the problem?
That handler has the right – the responsibility – to do what she thinks is in the long term best interest of her dog. I have enormous respect for her. Honestly, I wish I saw that sort of advocacy more often.
If you’re not sure you can do it; stand up to a person in a position of authority, then that’s fine. Leave your dog at home when you attend a seminar and then you won’t find yourself in that difficult position. Don’t be naive. Just because someone is well known doesn’t mean that they’ll behave in a way that is in the best interests of your dog.
And if it’s already happened? You made that mistake? Fine – put that in the past, learn from the experience, and do right by your dog as you go forwards.