The Wagg Pet Food brand have recently launched a social media campaign based around the fact that #DogsArentPeople. Whilst I do agree with this statement in general, I don’t agree with what their campaign is insinuating. It seems to be more focused on attacking pet influences rather than looking at the real issues of people humanizing dogs such as pet obesity and unhealthy diets.
Their instagram campaign has included lines such as ‘they deserve to be loved for what they are, a dog, and not an influencer’. They also made a post asking ‘is it only my dog that doesn’t have their own instagram channel?’ and captioned it ‘ Our fur-ends would much rather be running around outside, wouldn’t you agree?’.
All of these statements seem to be suggesting that dogs that have their own social media pages are simply being used for followers, being forced to do things that they don’t want to do and don’t have an enjoyable life. (I’d just like to point out that this is my interpretation of it and I am not speaking for the brand as I honestly have no idea what their aim was with this campaign, but whatever it was I don’t think it has translated properly onto social media.)
Let’s just skip over the fact that their whole instagram account is in collaboration with a pet influencer because that just baffles me on another level. Plus their whole following list is full of dog accounts. Why follow them if you believe their life is so awful?
So, onto something more positive – I wanted to highlight how having an instagram page for my dogs has really benefited both me and them.
1) Training – having a dog that will pose for a photo does require a certain level or training which doesn’t only make it easier to capture them, but also benefits them in other situations. Ted has a very high prey drive and finds it hard to resist chasing anything that moves. Working on his stay outdoors with distractions is something that I would be doing regardless of whether I was taking photos or not. He has also learnt several tricks for photos which is a great enrichment exercise for his mind. He was very nervous when I adopted him so learning these tricks really helped build his confidence.
I always like to treat taking photos as a training session so will only do it for 15 mins max before the dogs get a break. Although it’s usually more like 5 mins! Ted gets a lot of opportunity to run around inbetween and Amber usually sticks close waiting for more food.
2) Hiking – this is something specific to us but I know quite a lot of our friends have had the same experience. Seeing the amazing hikes other people have been on with their dogs really inspired me to get out there and start visiting new places with my two. We are lucky as both the Peak District and the Lake District are only just over an hour from us in the car so we have a lot of choice when if comes to long, scenic walks. This is a great way to exercise the dogs and really helps their fitness by walking on different surfaces.
3) Food quality – Most people who currently follow us don’t know this but Amber has been on Instagram for 5 years now. Before starting her first account I had never heard of raw feeding and just fed her crappy kibble from the pet shop. I learnt a lot about dog nutrition through instagram and Amber has tried a few different foods in her time. She did try raw but it didn’t seem to agree with her so she’s now on a cooked diet and Ted is raw fed. I definitely wouldn’t go back to the kibble brand I used when she was a pup!
4) Fitness – a bit of a follow on from the previous points but by increasing her exercise and feeding her higher quality food Amber is now in much better shape than she would have been without instagram. She did have a challenge with her weight due to health issues but losing the weight was definitely made easier by these adjustments. It’s also great to be knowledgeable on all of these things now that I have a high energy dog who needs much more exercise (despite his size).
5) Socialisation – my instagram profile had been vital to Ted’s socialisation. We are now in a group of instagram dogs who we regularly meet and go on walks/ hikes with. It’s been brilliant for Ted to meet so many dogs of different shapes and sizes and have positive experiences with all of them. I always find that instagram dogs are very well trained and sociable (and if they’re not their owners acknowledge this and work hard on training them and managing their issues).
6) Free Products – now I have to say I wouldn’t call my dogs ‘influencers’ as we’re not exactly up there in terms of follower numbers but we have been fortunate enough to colaberate with a few brands over the years. My two have been sent anything from treats to accessories to model on our instagrm page. They’re spoiled rotten!
7) Events – another thing that we have been lucy enough to do is attend events. We have been to dog fest several times and Amber had also been to Crufts with me. These events are always full of fun activities and treats for the dogs which gives them a positive experience in a crowded place. This is fab for training, Amber used to hate crowds and now she’s not phased at all as she associates it with treats and attention.
8) Pet Photography – as a result of starting Amber’s instagram profile all those years ago, I now have a Pet Photography business and am able to offer shoots to capture those special moments for other dogs and their owners. I always make my shoots very informal and fun for the dogs, I’ve never had a dog that hasn’t had a blast at their shoot.
I am aware that Wagg have now removed all traces of this campaign from their instagram… but I wanted to talk about it anyway as some people don’t realise how positive having your dog on social media can be. My dogs have a brilliant life and it’s only made better by the people I have met and the knowledge I have picked up online. It’s not such a hardship for these ‘influencer’ dogs after all!