Are You Harming Your Dog With Social Media?

This is no secret.  If you follow our blog, or are one of our million Facebook fans, you know that we take many pictures of our dogs.  So. Many. Pictures.  In fact, for the past seven years, I have probably posted more than a million videos, pictures, blogs and status updates on all of our social media platforms.  So why, you may wonder, would I even allude to the fact that social media may not always be a good idea for our dogs.

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When I started our blog and our Facebook page, I never expected it to grow to the extent that it has.  And while I am not complaining that it has, I also see the need to use these platforms and tell you that your dog is more than a Facebook page.  Your dog is more than an Instagram account or a Twitter feed.  My dogs are more than that.  My dogs are…shocker…dogs.

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Like people usually do, we seem to take everything to the extreme.  And while we use our platforms to raise awareness for animal rescue and the people doing this across the world, I also found myself veering a little off course.  It took one day on our 48 states, 48 rescues tour to see that I was about to be out of control.

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As we were standing on the edge of a trail at the Grand Canyon, I thought about the fabulous opportunity we had to take some awesome pictures.  Oh, our fans would love this!  It would make the calendar, it would be…so…amazing.  But the reality when we got there was that our dog Digby all of a sudden realized that he was afraid of heights.  Like, really afraid.  And everytime there was a break in the crowds, and we tried to take their picture while I dropped their leash for a split second…this was terrifying to me.  Brickle had no issues in standing there. But Digby was always, well, Digby.  And as I looked at the leash for the fourth time and about the hundredth picture attempt, I knew it.  This was not worth it.  This was plain stupid!  What was I doing?  Sacrificing our safety for social media gratification?  Even if by other’s standards we were far enough away from the edge, and not under any immediate danger, my standards were different.  Because they were MY life.  And I was done with it.  We took the one picture we had..with me holding on to their leashes and this was my learning lesson. I didn’t care about a stupid picture.  Yes.  I said stupid picture.

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So what is my point?  I think that most of us simply don’t realize that social media is not always the reality of life.  Sure, it is portrayed as such so that we all feel closer to each other, but is it harming our dogs in some ways? I feel that it is.  Some of us may see gorgeous pictures of gorgeous dogs in gorgeous places and think that hey, our dogs could do that. And maybe so.  But do they want to?  That picture you see may have taken hours to take.  I have tried to take a great picture on days that my dogs just don’t want their picture taken.  How do I know they don’t want their picture taken?  They turn away, or they put their heads down, or their ears back.  Do you see Brickle in the picture above?  That’s my point. For us, the way we make a living is through social media.  And yes, it is frustrating to me when I know that they are just not into working on certain days.  I used to get upset, which made them more upset.  And now?  I have realized that if they don’t want their picture taken that day, oh well.  If this gig doesn’t last forever, I don’t care.  I would rather have more time with them happy than taking the perfect picture.

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If you have known us for any length of time, you probably can see that we aren’t so professional in our approaches.

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Our pictures aren’t edited for the most part, we wouldn’t probably be featured in magazines.  But for us, the reality of who our dogs are and what we stand for is the important part.  We aren’t for everyone.  But everyone isn’t for us.

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Our dogs don’t know what we are doing. They don’t know about Facebook.  They don’t know about Instagram. They don’t know we care about how many “likes” we get on a post, or if our friends see our pictures. Seriously.  If they associate negativity with our phones or cameras, what is that saying about us?  Those things are extensions of how we interact with them. And if I could tell all of the people with dog social media stars out there one thing, I would say please…please…take your dogs into consideration more.  Treat them like family before you treat them like a paycheck or even a workmate.  Because the reality is that the wonderful picture you tortured your dog to get won’t be worth looking back at when they are gone. The funny pictures, the blurry ones, the ones taken in the moment are what you will remember.  Be real.  But be nice.  And use the platforms that you have to make a difference.

-Rachael Johnson, Owner, 2 Traveling Dogs

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