Dear Dog Whisperer, You’re Not Really Whispering

I didn’t think it was possible. I thought — surely — nothing was more annoying, aggravating, eye-roll inducing than unsolicited parenting advice. I’ve been the recipient of so much of it over the years that I’ve learned to tune most of it out, but sometimes I still have to remind myself not to punch random “you should do it this way, honey” advice-givers in the face.

But it turns out there’s something slightly more annoying that unsolicited parenting advice.

It’s unsolicited dog advice.

Holy moly, you guys! It seems that everyone and their brother is a Board Certified Dog Expert! I even have a few Dog Whisperers on my hands. I don’t know what to do with all the genius, all the intellect, all the know-it-all-ed-ness that is being thrown at me as of late. Other than blog rather snarkily about it. Obviously.

My husband tried to prepare me for it shortly after Callie joined the family. “Be prepared for a bunch of advice on what to do with the dog,” he whispered as we answered the door. I looked at him like he had 12 heads. No one was going to get all uppity about dog raising, right?


Never, ever feed your dog table food. Sometimes feed your dog table food, but not from the table. Always feed your dog table food; that dog food is crap. The dog food you’ve chosen is crap; we only feed our dog imported, wine-marinated deer meat. That expensive dog food is crap. You should have a retractable leash. You should have a longer leash. You should have a shorter leash. You shouldn’t ever use a leash! Your dog’s collar is too thin. Too wide! COLLARS ARE FOR SISSY DOGS! Why did you get such a big dog? My dog is bigger than your dog! Big dogs are too much work. Big dogs are lazy; small dogs are so much better. Get her spayed! Don’t get her spayed! Did you register her? Registering her is stupid if you’re going to spay her. Pick up poop. Don’t pick up poop. (And then, just because we need unsolicited parenting advice to boot…) Make the kids pick up the poop! Crate training is the best way to house train a dog. Don’t put her in a crate; that’s animal abuse. Tie her up outside. Don’t tie her up outside. Get an invisible fence. Invisible fences are cruel and your dog will eventually run away anyway because you guys are jerks for getting an invisible fence. Just let your dog roam at will and poop in the neighbors’ yards. (Okay, no one said that, but there’s a lot of that going on. And not by us.) Don’t yell at your dog. Be firm with your dog. Don’t tell your dog no. Make sure your dog understands the word no. No squeaky toys. No chew toys. No balls. No fun.


In the past three-and-a-half weeks, we have been inundated with How to Raise Your Dog 101, though the advice coming from absolutely every person contradicts what someone else said, leaving me with the belief that our dog will be a child-eating, shoe-chewing, floor-pooping, muddy-feet-jumping, bark-and-howling, yip-yipping, mean and nasty dog no matter what we do. In short: Just like parenting, we’re doomed.



Like any new mom of a human child, I was taking all of it to heart. The what to feed, when to feed, how to train, how not to rain, what to do when x happens, how to respond when y happens. Oh yes, I was trying to do it all, which probably only served to confuse the stuffing out of poor Callie. When something didn’t work, I was soul-crushed. She hates me! She’ll never listen! She’ll never be trained! DOOMED!

But I’ve decided I’m Over It. I got to the I’m Over It point much faster with the dog than I did with the boys. Years and years faster. Maybe it’s the whole “Dog Years” thing that sped up my understanding… or the fact that arriving at Over It with regards to parenting taught me a few things about how to be Over It in general. About anything. What you think of my hair color. What you think of my nose ring. What you think of my clothing, my husband, my house size, my car, my butt size. Over It.

And so, I will just say this:

Callie is our dog. She may not respond like your dog to a type of food, a toy, a version of training, a way of discipline. She may not like to do things like your dog. She may not like you; I’m okay with that as long as she doesn’t bite you. We will work with her as best we know how. We will make mistakes. I might even come to you with a question, to ask your opinion about how to deal with the jumping or the every third day accident or what time of day is best for a long run… but not if you first tell me, “Don’t do that,” or, “You’re doing it wrong,” or, “Are you stupid?” Because then I just won’t want to talk to you about her at all. Or let you pet her.

And trust me, you want to pet her because she’s the sweetest thing. Ever.

Callie, 12 Weeks

When she’s not trying to puppy-gnaw on your hand while you’re trying to pet her because she’s the sweetest thing ever. That kind of removes some of the sweetness.

So please, tell me my dog is cute. Tell me that our family is lucky to have a dog. Tell me that someday she will calm down and stop driving me bonkers in the middle of a rainy fall day when the only thing she wants to do is go outside and bite at raindrops. Tell me I’m doing a great job getting her to walk on a leash. Tell me she looks clean. Tell me I’m a great dog owner.

Or simply shut your yapper. It’s your choice. Unless you want to whisper to my dog — not to me — that she should love me best. Then I will bake you a pie in the shape of a dog bone. Or maybe just let you pet her more.


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24 Replies to “Dear Dog Whisperer, You’re Not Really Whispering”

  1. I had a German Shepard growing up, and some of my fondest childhood memories are with her. They are a great family dog, and you will, no doubt, do a great job of making her a part of your family.

    Also, her ears kill me.

  2. wait. you mean german shepherds are supposed to outgrow wanting to go outside and bite at the falling rain? no one gave me that advice and ludo STILL is a fan of playing in the rain. (and chasing leaves when the wind blows. goof.)

    anyhow, i hope i didn’t dog whisper at you. i am pretty certain all i did was half ass answer a question on twitter about feeding before or after a specific event. if i did something other than that on a different occasion, i’m sorry.

    and i really do need to pet her and whisper sweet nothings into her ears soon, before she outgrows that gloriousness that is a german pup.

    1. Oh, no. Not you. You and Mindy both have been a great resource to me the past few weeks! I do honestly have lots of questions, but it’s the random people that come out of the woodwork, people I don’t even know by name, who get all High and Mighty on me, that make my head spin. Also family! WEE!

      She is starting to get in some adult hair; you can see it in spots on her tail and one on her back. She also has six white hairs sprouting off of the tip of her tail. Very long. And yes, omg, the leaves blowing. She should be a MESS when they really start to fall. She also loves moths that come out of the grass when we go out at night. Everything is very #shiny to her. LOL

      I am loving having a German Shepherd and I am so glad I have certain people I can turn to and ask, “Uh, is this normal?” And, “OMG THIS GETS EASIER, RIGHT?” (I say that three of my weekly coffee friends every week as they’ve all had dogs muuuuch longer than we have. They assure me it does. Heh.)

  3. A dog is like a child. Do what works best for yall. On the bag of dog food it says our Border Collie needs 4 cups of food a day for her age and weight. She eats MAYBE 2, BUT the vet says she’s healthy and not for us to be concerned. It doesn’t matter what the bag says or anyone else for that matter, our dog is healthy and happy.

    She looks like she is happy with her new family and that’s all that matters!! I wish I could snuggle with her. She looks like a fluffy bear. So stinkin cute!

  4. Ha! I feel your pain!
    Though I would like to know when Millie will stop jumping up and WALKING across our kitchen table. Are you kidding me? Meanwhile, I am convinced that when she’s sleeping all stiff legged, you can actually see her grow. Holy Moly, what happened to my baby puppy!?

  5. Your dog is cute, but she is going to be a jerk no matter what you do. You are going to screw it up!
    Why are people so crazy? Why do they have opinions about things that don’t matter to them.
    Crazy. Enjoy your dog – she really is adorable! We had a G.S. growing up too, and I loved her. Her name was Trista!

  6. People are crazy! She’s adorable and will be just fine. Dogs all have different personalities and needs just like kids. If you lived closer I would totally whisper in her ear. I love puppies, especially when they are not mine. :) The puppy stage is fun and hard work!

  7. I know nothing about German Shephards. Our family always had Spaniels of one sort or another.

    I do know some breeds have an extended puppyhood. I know that your vet will tell you if Callie is under or over fed. I can tell you that Ruby’s digestive system does better on the expensive no grain type food. Otherwise – ZOMG her toots would kill you! I stink at dog training so no advice there whatsoever except a harness makes it easier to control her when walking and – oh look a squirrel – since she can pull me over when she bolts.

    Just do what works for you, the boys and FireDad. Which may be different for each person too.

    Ruby listens to me better than Charlie or Robert. She loves me best! :)

  8. You probably have one of the cutest puppies…EVER, try telling that face no :) Maybe I took it wrong – but when people dished out doggie advise, I just handed the leash over. Opps! Good luck (not with the pup, but with the know it all people :))

  9. LOL! Wonderful! Terrific! Well said! I am so glad that Denise added this to Facebook, or I would have missed it. Thank you for the laughs.

    What I remember hating the most, about these so-called “dog whisperers,” was having someone dare to reprimand my dog, while I am standing not 1-foot away. It is my dog, don’t tell me what he should or should not do! Grrrr!!


  10. <3 your dog! I know we got the same thing when our family first got a dog. I was just a kid, but now our dog is 8 years old. Like kids, dogs will be dogs. We never taught our dog to stay in the front yard with out running away, but he does really great with other stuff. Love Callie, she's great and I know your kids will love her too. It will be the memories that count. :)

  11. My Mom works for our vet. She has for the last 26 years.

    She is the annoying advice giver.

    She also pays more per day to have her dog go to daycare, than I spend for my child to go to daycare. Crazy.

  12. She is plain cute!
    Our dog mainly raised herself, because she’s smart and stinkin’ cute like that. Now we have an adorable little princess that hates to go outside when she could get her feet wet. And sleeps all day, preferably on your lap. And follows you like a ghost the moment she thinks you’re preparing food. Her or ours, no difference. She won’t beg, she’s just very present. And sneaky quiet as hell. She loves bananas and yoghurt.

    That wasn’t in any advice we got :D

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