Educating Without Alienating

By Lynn Stacy-Smith

As pet parents who believe in a holistic lifestyle and an emphasis on nutrition, we sometimes encounter pet parents among our friends and family who do not have the same level of knowledge or awareness of pet health and safety issues. As animal advocates and cat and dog lovers it is natural to want to educate them and share all the information that we have earned over the years. So how do we help friends without alienating them?

Use Social Mediadoberman with computer - dog lovers educating

Your social media accounts are a great way to share information without singling out a particular friend. You can educate friends on canine nutrition by sharing our blogs and links to Google Hangouts. Find Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that are linked to the causes about which you are the most passionate and share the articles that they post along with a blurb to share your own feelings.

Keep it Real

Sharing your personal experiences will go over with friends much better than a lecture on sensitive topics like puppy mills, spaying/neutering, nutrition, dog food allergies or other topics. By referencing articles and blogs that you’ve read or experiences that you’ve had or heard about you can spread information without shaming your friends. As much as the dog shaming memes are funny and popular, human shaming just doesn’t go over as well.

Volunteercat - dog lovers educating

Volunteering is a win-win situation for you and the charitable organizations closest to your heart, whether it’s fostering, transporting rescues, fund-raising, or other functions. Not only can you give your time and energy to the organizations of your choice, you have the perfect opening to talk about the subject when friends and family ask what you’ve been doing lately.

Take the High Road

Sometimes you just can’t help but chime in when a friend or family member is about to make a questionable choice relating to pets. No matter the topic, taking the high road and speaking in a non-judgmental way will help further your cause. For example, if a co-worker mentions that she wants to buy a puppy for her kids for Christmas and if that is not something that you would strongly recommend,  a non-confrontational response would be to “Oh, I hear you’re going to bring a puppy into your house! You know, a lot of puppies end up in shelters after the holidays. If I were you I would tell the kids that you are going to go to the shelter as a family and rescue a shelter dog this year and give him his forever home as a gift this year!”

Ultimately the more you talk to your friends and family about the issues that you feel passionately about the more they will likely seek you out as a source of information about taking care of pets. The trick is to stay positive and to be the type of pet advocate that they want to reach out to for advice and education.