Alright, friends—we've covered some pretty hot-button issues in this column so far (as evidenced by the super-fun "Fuck you, Alex!" emails I'm receiving), but we're going to go ahead and dig into one of the more divisive topics of our time—dog ownership. Honestly, we don't really deserve dogs in all of their loving and glowing warmth, but they also don't deserve us sometimes, especially in how we treat them. This is why I went to dog behavior specialists (who, as always, will remain anonymous) to ask how we might better serve these noble beasts, and how we might better incorporate them into our lives.
Know Their Brains
Our sources tell us that simply by understanding how our dogs learn, we can communicate with them more clearly and better understand their needs. Studies have shown that dogs understand us far more than we ever thought possible, we should probably return the favor.
Know Them on a Personal Level
From what we hear, picking up on what makes your dog uncomfortable and when they are or aren't having a good time will help you not only avoid incident, but can motivate them into adopting better behavior patterns. Bond with that fuzzy bastard!
You're Not a Pro (Unless You Are)
Obviously, the folks we spoke with have dedicated all or some of their lives to dogs, so believe them when they say that the internet—as awesome as it is for, like, finding pornography—will never replace a real-life expert who understands there's no one-size-fits-all methodology for dog stuff. Do yourself a favor and find a Certified Pet Dog Trainer with a CPDT-KA title.
Yo, Sometimes Dogs Growl … Dang
This is your dog setting boundaries, and our sources confirm that it's indeed OK for your dog to say "No." Turns out, if you snap at your dog for its growls, it might need to resort to more intense forms of communication—like biting you without that growl you punished it for.
Like Us, Some Dogs Are Loners, Dottie … Rebels
We now know that forcing a dog to spend time with other dogs is not OK. This probably falls under "knowing your miniature house-beast," but either way, if your best pal is visibly nervous during inter-dog hang-downs, it's best to understand that and let it chill alone on the couch.
The World is Ours, Not Theirs
Says our source, "We expect dogs to live in a world that is not designed for them, and if you have not taken the time to teach your dog a skill, don't be mad when they don't have that skill." In other words, if you get frustrated because your shiny new pup doesn't know what the hell "Sit!" means. That's on you to be more patient and help a dog out.
Not to Sound Like Oprah, But If You Can't Afford the Vet, You Can't Afford the Pet
Ah, yes—that thing people do where they adopt an animal and then can't afford to care for it properly. This one really steams a lot of folks' clams, so let me be plain: If you get a dog, through adoption or otherwise, it's your job to take care of that dog. The end.
And While We're at it, Feed That Dog The Good Stuff
Don't be surprised, our sources say, if feeding bogus-ass discount food results in illness, allergies or a shorter lifespan for your pup. Have you heard of Marty's Meals? We get that it's pricy, but again, it's your job to take care of this glorious house-wolf.
Get Your Shit Together
Yo, pick up after your dog. Just do it. Get some plastic bags and do it.
The Big One—Faux Service Dogs are Bullshit
Dog owners can easily find service animal paraphernalia online and outfit their canine buds with the regalia in an attempt to take it places it needn't be. We understand loving thy dog, and we understand the concept of emotional support animals, but when you game the system because you somehow think your dog wants to be every damn place with you, you're really effing it up for the actual service animals in the world. Please stop doing this, for everyone's sake.