Dear Dr. Spot,
Here’s my problem: I have an overprotective owner who is “afraid” to let me outside. I’ve been told that I’m a very small dog, but I sure don’t feel small! In fact, I’ve always felt quite brave and bold inside, until my new owner started treating me like a fragile, helpless creature. Now, he’s almost convinced me to be afraid!
As you might guess, he’s “afraid” that I’ll be attacked on a walk by a big dog (even though I’m on a leash), and that I might get injured if I run through the yard…like all dogs love to do. The enclosed picture, where I have a joyous look on my face, was taken by my dog sitter who actually let me out in the yard and encouraged me to play. Mysteriously, this wonderful lady has never returned…
Oh, did I mention that I’m forced to pee and poop indoors on “potty pads”? It’s soooo embarrassing…
Please help me convince my owner that I’m not a weakling just because I’m small, Dr. Spot—I just want to go for walks and romp in the great outdoors…even if it is just my backyard!
Your biggest fan,
PeeWee, Santa Clara, CA
PeeWee, my friend, you sure got yourself a doozy of an owner! In medical terms, he’s the one who is afraid of everything, and is projecting that fear onto you. So don’t blame yourself— any canine, or human for that matter, would start to feel afraid with an owner hovering over their every move.
The poor fellow needs some serious counseling—let me suggest a few books you can give him for a gift that might help him up his confidence level: Finding Inner Strength by Sophia Metropolis, or Being Bold: The Gateway To a Happy Life by Leopold Turner. If you’re short of cash, check them out of the library—he’ll surely be impressed to see you’ve been able to get your own library card.
In the meantime, PeeWee, here’s what to do to turn this thing around:
1. Immediately stop responding to “PeeWee”, and try to get him to change your name to something like “Brutus” or “Hercules”. This is sure to give him a different mindset when he sees you, and in turn, you will respond differently to him. Brave name equals brave owner and dog, I say.
2. And stop eliminating on those stupid potty pads! Instead, choose the carpet, or better yet, his favorite chair. This may cause him confusion for a while, but he’ll soon blame himself for not properly “housebreaking” you. After you’ve done your business as recommended, stand by the door and whine. He’ll get the picture after a day or two, and I guarantee you’ll be spending more time outdoors. Just make sure you “act out” like this for only a short time, or you might find yourself permanently outdoors.
Good luck, PeeWee, er, Brutus. I’ll look forward to hearing about all of your outdoor adventures!