The action of advocacy is woven into the very fabric of our society. Any issue will likely be advocated for by groups, individuals, or government bodies. It’s how we help initiate change and how our society moves forward. Advocating for issues can challenge us to think, reevaluate and question our position as well as our own moral and ethical compass.

You can see advocacy at work in virtually any issue facing modern society from race & ethnicity to criminal justice and policing. We each choose to advocate in different ways and under different conditions. I personally use my social media accounts, personal interactions with pet owners during lessons and courses and my work with pet professionals at PPG, DogNostics and The DogSmith to advocate for the issues I am most passionate about.

I acknowledge that my advocacy messaging for these two different groups, professionals and pet owners, is going to be different and the messaging tailored to suit each audience. But I am always open to having discussions with both groups, albeit in different ways perhaps.  This is my choice and my preference. It’s where and how I feel I can best advocate for pets given my limited resources.  What does remain constant is I always strive to keep my messaging polite, based on facts, intellectually honest and I never sink to personal attacks.

For example: If I share a well written and factual blog about Prong Collars on my own Facebook page, I do so with the hope of educating pet owners and helping guide their choice of training and management equipment for their own pet. In this situation this is not the forum for “professionals” to jump in and bash my post and try to argue their own position favoring this equipment. The equipment I spend my life advocating against.

Contrary to the accusation of “You are close minded”, I received yesterday in response to the above-mentioned blog article, there was nothing in any of my statements or responses that indicates I am close-minded. I am always open and available to have discussions with other professionals about tools, equipment, and philosophy. Much of my time is spent doing this. A day does not go by when I don’t engage in a professional discussion with other trainers about some aspect of our industry that we do not agree on. I just choose to do it one-on-one and privately.  I opt to do this privately, so my ongoing advocacy message does not get clouded or lost in the fray of differing opinions that often transgress into rudeness.

How you choose to advocate is your very own professional and personal prerogative. All I ask is that we share the same meaning of what Advocacy actually is and that we don’t conflate advocacy for bullying or harassment.

A few definitions of advocacy:

  • Public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy – Oxford Languages
  • Any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others – Alliance for Justice
  • one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal – Merriam Webster
  • One who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group- Merriam Webster

Now some definitions of bullying:

  • Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm – National Center Against Bullying
  • Bullying is the use of force, coercion, hurtful teasing or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate – Wikipedia

I believe that advocacy is about acting, speaking out in favor of humane, ethical approaches to pet care and training. It incorporates making recommendations for our cause on behalf of pets and their caretakers.

My focus on this issue is deliberate and with long term goals. I will also passionately advocate and support those who advocate for the same purpose. We need to support and value each other, be open to different ways of sharing our message and be committed to looking at and responding to positions on important issues.

Advocate to your heart’s content. Choose methods and approaches you are comfortable with while always remaining rational, reasonable and respectful.  Do not sink to personal attacks or logical fallacies and don’t be pushed off your advocacy game with accusations or bullying or harassment. These types of actions are not advocacy and demonstrate the very cause they seek to dismiss.