This story begins like many of my days. I’m standing in the office and a customer comes in to pick up his dog who had been evaluated for the very first time. The dog was…we might call her an old Golden Retriever (breed changed to protect the innocent). She was a beautiful and very friendly older dog. The owner was absolutely enamored by this dog; she was his pride and joy. He wanted to make sure that I knew she was a full-bred dog and that she was very special.


Of course, my business is dogs, so I take people saying this stuff to me with a grain of salt. I am more interested in what I can observe about you and your pet. To me, if an animal is that important to you, then you are mindful of their needs. You don’t have to say a word to me, I can see it in the way you behave together.

Let’s be clear, I don’t start lecturing people when they are a brand-new client because I don’t want to be like “Hi, nice to meet you! Here’s what you need to change.” Most dog owners don’t even realize what they are doing that we may disagree with, so I consider it an honor to be able to educate them.

In this case, the dog came inside with the customer. She greeted everyone and greeted him a little bit, and the first thing I noticed was that she was obese. Very, very fat. So heavy, in fact that I could not feel her ribs, or any loose skin.  She was just like a little pig about to burst. Get the picture? Here’s what I need you to know:

Overweight dog huffing and puffing1. Your dog may be overweight.

Seriously, a lot of people have really fat dogs. The problem is, a lot of people think they have to feed their dog diet dog food and that’s actually not the case. The truth is your dog just needs less food and more exercise. Likelihood is, the dog owner might need the same thing, which is partly why it’s even more difficult to talk about! There is a great website called Dog Food Advisor that discusses how to help your overweight dog lose weight, and if you are worried that your dog may be heavy, this is a great resource for you.

The second thing I noticed was that this dog needed grooming.  She had mats all under her ears, and her nails were alarmingly long. At DogBoy’s, on evaluation day we do a free rinse and nail trim for the new dogs that come through. This dog’s nails were so long that they were curling to the outside of her paws. When nails are that long, we can only cut off a little bit at a time. For the sake of your dog, please remember:

2. Your dog needs frequent grooming and hygienic maintenance.

When a dog’s nails get too long, the “quick” grows out with the nail. In order to remedy that, you have to cut the dog’s nails just a little bit every week for about six weeks so that the “quick” has a chance to recede. Otherwise, you have to take your dog to the veterinarian who will sedate your dog and cut the whole nail off, “quicks” included.

Trimming your dogs nails this way would be extremely painful if they were awake. Thankfully, they’re asleep and they don’t feel anything…except the possible pain of recovery after the surgery.  But still, it is in your dog’s best interest to take care of this stuff in a timely manner. A lot of people avoid regular nail trims because their dogs “don’t like it”. We are happy to help you take care of this, as is your local veterinarian or groomer. 

The third thing I noticed was right before he left, when we had this conversation:

He looked at his dog and he said, “Oh…I know that look”
I said, “What look? I don’t understand.”
He said, “Oh you know…she’s mad at me.”
I said, “Mad? Why would she be mad at you?”
He goes, “Because, I left her for three days.”
I was like, “No, actually she might be tired, but she’s not mad at you. You just left her in dog heaven for three days. She’s happy!”
And, he said, “No, I know that look. She’s mad.”

Here’s the deal:

3. Your dog is not mad at you.

Dogs have a very short memory span. Generally, they have the mentality of most toddlers. So, whatever you think your dog is mad at you for (which they aren’t), they have likely forgotten already. Also, dogs are not like humans – dogs are not passive aggressive, and dogs are not plotting their revenge. This mentality in dog owners is called anthropomorphism. Basically, when humans attribute human qualities to something that is not human. In this case, dogs.

Dog owners say things like, “my dog is mad” or “my dog is jealous” or something to the tune that their dog is going to hold something against them. Dogs don’t do that. Dogs are not humans. That’s why we love dogs, because they love us no matter what. So the dog owner in this story was just feeling guilty about his own trip and he can just let that go.

4.Don’t worry about having your dog sit when you drop them off at a boarding facility.

Dogs sittingPeople come into our office and they say to their dog, “Sit Fido, sit,” and they say it over again, “sit, sit, sit, sit!” Meanwhile their dog is just like, “WOW! There are so many smells here! There are people I want to greet! YAY! There are other dogs! WOOHOO!”

Your dog is most likely so overstimulated that they have a really hard time sitting still. People are so afraid, especially at a boarding facility like ours that does so much training, that we’re judging them because their dog isn’t obedient. We want this to be a happy place for your dog, so we’re not concerned with obedience when you are dropping them off for a stay with us. We want you to be able to relax and enjoy the process, without the stress of trying to impress us.

“Am I a terrible dog owner?”

If this post made you angry, afraid, sad, or just doubtful and now you’re wondering if you might fit into one of these categories:

  • bad dog owner
  • neglectful dog owner
  • oblivious dog owner
  • novice dog owner
  • beginning dog owner

DON’T WORRY! You are definitely not alone. Maybe you just don’t know everything there is to know about owning a dog. Or, maybe you were incorrectly taught about the regular care that goes into owning a dog. In any case, we are here to help. Until then, keep this list handy when you are in doubt.



Photo Permissions:

Huffing and Puffing by swong95765

A little better than the last group by carterse