8 Ways to Support Dog Owners

8 Ways to Support Dog Owners Who Are Struggling With Behavior Problems

Male with glasses and a blue shirt looking concerned, hugging a brown dog.

Most dog owners didn’t deliberately select dogs with behavior problems. Behavior issues can arise in rescue dogs after months. Dogs from breeders may develop behavior problems with age. Regardless of the situation, owning a dog with behavioral problems can make owners experience guilt, stress, frustration, and loneliness.

Well-meaning, unsolicited advice

If you know someone whose dog has behavior issues, it’s natural to want to help. However, it’s best to support them without imposing your advice or opinions. As a certified canine behavior consultant, I’ve learned to support my friends and family without offering unsolicited advice.

Everyone has an opinion

Dog owners receive tons of tips and suggestions from the internet. They might also get advice from random people who have no clue about their situation.

Sometimes, people just need to be heard and understood, rather than given advice. Want to support your family member without being too opinionated? Here are eight ways to help.

Shepherd mix with their head on a laptop that is on someone's lap.

8 Ways to support a dog owner who is struggling

1) Ask them “how can I best support you”

Sometimes, when someone is struggling, all they want is for someone to be there and understand their perspective. They may just need time to process their feelings or an event they went through. So, stop and listen. Do they want advice or just a listening ear?

2) Focus on the positive things about their dog

Many dog owners experience grief for the dog they had or the dog they imagined. In both cases, there is a sense of loss. It’s important to acknowledge the uniqueness of their dog and remind them of the special bond they share.

3) Go out and have fun

Everyone enjoys a distraction. Sometimes, the best way to overcome negativity is by taking a break and doing something completely different.

4) Drop off a bag of goodies

Everyone loves a little gift to show you’re thinking of them. Surprise your friend with a little gift to let them know you care. Provide a suitable toy for the dog.

5) Help them find a suitable canine behavior consultant

Behavior issues in dogs require a different approach from teaching new skills. To understand these issues, you need a knowledge of genetics, development, physiology, and more. Finding a qualified professional can benefit both the dog and the owner.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

6) Show respect and appreciation for the boundaries they have established

While you are great with dogs, it is crucial to understand that every dog has different needs. Please respect the needs of this dog. This is not open for debate. Remember, this dog does not belong to you.

7) Share and be honest about any challenges you faced

Now, more than ever, we all want to feel connected to others. When you open up about your own dog’s struggles, it can empower both you and the other owner. It’s good to feel like we’re not the only ones.

8) If you are a professional, do not act like you know everything

Remember, you’re not the entire human population. The dogs you’ve interacted with do not represent the entire population of all dogs and their owners. Just imagine how much we could learn if we replaced criticism by asking questions.

Do you want to talk more about this topic?

If you are interested in my experience and educational background on this topic, click here to review the about me page.

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