How to Handle Unsolicited Advice About Your Pet

woman on bed with dogs

As of 2020, about 67% of American households include a family pet.[1] Including a pet in your household has many benefits, including lower blood pressure, less stress, decreased triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness, more opportunities for socialization, and increased exercise and leisure time opportunities.[2] Whether you're out and about with your pet or sharing a cute photo of your furry friend on your social media accounts, chances are good that you'll end up receiving some unsolicited advice. While the people giving you this unwanted advice probably mean well, listening to it could result in harm to your pet. Keep reading for some tips on how to handle excessive amounts of unsolicited advice from other pet owners.

Set Boundaries

The most common reason why people get unsolicited advice from others is that they have ill-defined boundaries.[3] Setting up clear, strong boundaries demonstrates to others that you're not looking for or interested in their opinions. Even if you've already received unsolicited advice about your pet, it's not too late to start setting up some personal boundaries for yourself and for your pet. The first time people give you unwanted advice about your pet, shut them down. Tell them you're not interested in tips on pet care, nutrition or anything else. If they continue, repeat yourself. Be polite and firm. Try, "Thank you, but I don't need any advice." Know that EquiVet Care will give you honest, professional advice about pet care.

Don't Take It Personally

It's easy to take unsolicited advice personally. Don't feel as if the person offering advice is insulting your ability to care for your pet. Put the onus on the person who's giving you the advice you don't want. It's possible that people offering advice just want somebody to listen. They might have low self-esteem or a big ego that demands attention. Shut it down, and don't give them what they want.

Validate Them

When you receive excessive advice from people regarding your pet, give them validation. Let them know you've heard what they have to say. Avoid sarcasm or taking offense. Take a proactive stance, and make a statement that demonstrates you don't want any more advice. Here's an example: "Thanks for the ideas. I have a plan for handling this, and I'll let you know if I need some help in the future." Doing this will avoid an argument and lower the risk that your words will activate the person’s fight-or-flight response.[4]

Maintain Control Over Your Situation

When you respond to a person delivering unsolicited advice on social media, maintain control over your situation. Don't give away the power that you have over your narrative.[5] You could respond with, "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind." Another polite but firm way to answer is, "Good idea. I'll consider whether that's right for me and my pet." These responses show other people that you've heard what they had to say. It validates them, but it keeps control over the conversation in your court.

Move on Quickly

Dwelling on the unsolicited advice could cause you undue stress.[6] If you're not used to speaking up and keeping the power in your own hands, another way to deal with excessive unsolicited advice is to move on as quickly as possible. If you receive unwanted advice in person, you could nod, smile, and change the subject. If the advice comes through a social media page, just give a noncommittal response. Something to the effect of, "You may be right" allows the advisor to feel heard, but you retain the power.

Following the advice of untrained individuals could at best lead to problem behaviors with your pet. At worst, it could put your pet's health at risk. EquiVet Care's skilled veterinarians offer sound, scientific advice on how to take care of your pet, including their behavioral, nutritional, exercise, and preventive health care needs. To get more information or schedule an appointment for your pet, contact us at EquiVet Care today.








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