I have heard people say that having a dog is like practice for having a child. I laugh because there is no way that having a dog is like a kid. Yet, when you stop and think about it there are actually times when being a parent to a two-legged creature or a four-legged one aren’t that different.
So here are the top 10 ways I find the two to be the same (in no particular order).
10. You never hit a dog or a child. No good can ever come from physical violence. In fact, actions speak louder than words and so you are teaching both your dog and your child that it’s actually okay to solve your problems with violence which is the exact opposite of the behaviour you want.
9. You need to focus on building a connection. Whether it’s your dog or your child, you want them to behave and listen to you because of the strong bond and connection they have with you, not out of fear of the punishment. Too often new dogs owners are so obsessed with teaching their dogs “tricks” when what they really need to be doing is building their bond. The rest comes later. It is the same with children. You need to build that bond until it’s so strong that when your child is given a choice behave and make you happy or misbehave and make you upset, they will opt for good behaviour because they value that over the chance to throw eggs on the floor or write on the walls with crayon.
8. Diet and exercise are very important. Tired dogs are happy dogs. Tired children (I mean physically) are happy children. Pent up energy is never a good thing and can manifest into frustration and come out in inappropriate ways like your dog tearing your sofa apart or your kids ripping apart all the books on the shelves. Turn off the tv, get outside, and play, with one, the other, or both! As for diet, obesity is a growing epidemic amongst kids and dogs. Whether its dog treats and table scraps or candy and pop consuming too many calories will make them fat. Not to mention, nutrition is key to overall health so it is vital to make sure they eat the right foods.
7. They always want what you are eating. No food hits the floor in my house because if it isn’t intercepted by a child it is intercepted by a dog. Just trying to eat a bowl of cereal leaves me with a crowd waiting and watching hoping they will get some of what ever it is I have.
6. Housebreaking vs. potty training. I took the same approach with both and it worked. Quick like a Band-Aid no turning back (ie. no pee pads, newspapers, pull-ups or training pants). While you have the added bonus of using your crate for training with a dog, I have found more accidents in a newly trained dog than Sawyer had once he had passed the three-day mark.
5. Nap time. While my dogs always want to be around me and play with me, there are times when they leave me alone to go off and nap. Depending on your children (mine not so much) you also get a (much-needed) break during nap time.
4. Going out with then in winter is a pain in the butt! In my case I start with the kids, their coats, jackets, hats, mitts, bottles, and then its time for the dogs, coats, boots, leashes. In the end, it’s a wonder we ever get out the door.
3. You will never leave the house with perfectly clean clothes. Whether it’s dog slobber and a mountain of dog hair or spit up, applesauce and glitter glue, there will always be some sort of giveaway that makes it on to your outfit even if it’s just in the time it takes to get from the bedroom to the front door.
2. They love to play with their friends. I have been dragged to many a park in my life. Before the kids I was always at the dog park so my dogs could run around and happily play with their friends and meet new dogs. Nowadays, its off to the playground so Sawyer can play tag with his friends and go on the slide.
1. They love you! I am the luckiest person in the world that I always come home to a happy crowd cheering me on. Whether it’s the kids rushing up to see me after work, or the dogs barking and doing their happy dance that we all just came home it is a great feeling. It’s also something to remind yourself when your dog is barking at ghosts right after you got the babies to sleep or your son announces that he is no longer your friend and wants you to move out because you wouldn’t let him have chocolate for dinner.
BONUS: You love them too! I love my kids more than anything in this world. Until my kids I loved my dogs that much (and now they are a close second). Being a parent of both requires hard work and sacrifices, but it will bring joy and happiness into your life, I promise.
Have your own? Feel free to share in the comments section.