I suppose anytime people are having a good time doing something silly, someone has to come along and be the party pooper, right? Think of the “scaring cats with cucumbers” craze of 2016, where the veterinarian came along and said that traumatizing our cats may be funny for a second, but may be psychologically damaging going forward. Or the grooming our dogs into pandas or lions craze of 2015, when we realized that hours of forcing our dogs to stand still for microgrooming and dyeing of their fur wasn’t the most practical way of canine beautification.
In the summer of 2017, we faced the challenge of “Squat Your Dog.” People were grabbing their dogs, putting them over their shoulders, and proceeding to do a few squats on camera. So is this really so bad?
Well, maybe not. But let’s just, for the sake of conversation, assume that perhaps your dog may not necessarily love this. Maybe he’s a little uncomfortable about the fact that as a large breed dog, he’s not normally picked up and held. Maybe he’s a little uncomfortable, especially with the fact that when you do pick him up, you’re putting him behind your head with his legs hanging over your shoulders. And maybe he’s just a touch uncomfortable with your hands holding his legs in place over your shoulders as you shakily go up and down and talk into your camera during the 14 takes that you go through to get the perfect shot.
Are any of these above scenarios going to permanently damage your dog? Of course not, but it could definitely decrease his trust in you going forward. And it certainly will make him dread ever being picked up again.
Instead of following this silly fad, why not come up with an exercise plan that involves both of you and helps increase your bond with your pet rather than serve to fracture it? Go for a hike through the woods. Chase your dog around the backyard and play fetch. Go for a long walk to your favorite restaurant for lunch al fresco. Schedule a few sessions with a trainer so you can both learn some new tricks.
Do something together that doesn’t involve your dog being fearful. You won't regret it, and you’ll be much less likely to hurt your back, drop your dog, or frighten the creature who loves you unconditionally.
Dr. Katy Nelson is a veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Washington, D.C., and a medical advisor for petMD.