I read this blog post today and thought I would chime in on the debate that having a dog prepares you for kids. First off, don’t get offended, I am not comparing YOUR kids to a dog. I feel that some moms freak out when you say that owning a dog is good practice. It’s as though you called their sweet, intelligent, bundle of joy a dopey, smelly, dog. Or it becomes a worst stories one up challenge; because my experiences with a baby are worse than your experiences with your dog.
I do feel that having a dog is good practice for some of the things you encounter as a parent. I found the following statement on The Mommy Psychologist blog amusing.
“If one more of my childless friends tells me that having a dog is good practice for having a child, I just might scream. At them. And not nicely.” Does Having A Pet Prepare You For Being A Parent? |.
While having a child is a much bigger responsibility I don’t think people should overreact like that. Yes your friend may not have a child, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t had some similar experiences. I think that owning a dog doesn’t prepare you for having a baby and becoming a parent. I just think it makes you more of a responsible adult. You can’t only think about yourself when you get a dog. You have to think about their needs as well. So maybe that statement needs to be rephrased to please some parents, but it wouldn’t offend me if you said it. Having a dog teaches you new skills as well.
I have two dogs and an 18 month old baby boy. Here are my experiences with owning a (2) dog(s) before having a baby. (Also why I think you shouldn’t get a dog if you WANT a baby.)
- Poop. Get used to it. Dogs poop and so do babies. Yes dogs go outside, once they are house trained. There is all that time during training a puppy when you will have to clean up pee and poop in your home. Plus you have to pick it up at parks and on the street if you don’t have your own yard. Weather you have a baby or a dog you will be getting used to handling poop.
- Repetition. When training a dog you have to repeat things over and over. That is how they learn. while you may not call it training, you definitely have to repeat things over and over when teaching your baby new things. That is also how they learn.
- Patients. Having a dog and training them will teach you patients, hopefully. It is another skill you need as a parent.
- Reliability and schedules. Dogs do well on a schedule and they also rely on you to keep to it and take care of them. You need to feed them at meals times, take them for walks, put them to bed. (Our dogs are crated at night) Babies thrive on a schedule. Some parents may not keep to one, but for us it has been so helpful. Our dogs let us know when they need to go out or if it’s a little past dinner and they haven’t eaten yet. They know our schedule and whats next. Our toddler also knows what to expect next. When things are out of order Squiggles will get upset and may throw a tantrum. Our dogs don’t really do that, thank goodness. But it was good practice having our dogs let us know when they needed something.
- Better with surprises… Not the happy kind. Toddlers get into things they shouldn’t and so do dogs. I’m sure you have all seen the pictures on the internet. It’s probably going to happen to you. I know it’s happened to me. It won’t make whatever surprise you find all better but at least you have gone through it and can hopefully keep a level head and take care of it.
I’m glad I had a dog before I had a baby. I think having a dog helped me develop and hone some of those skills that you need to be a parent. It makes you a little less selfish. When you have a baby you have to put your baby before yourself. You don’t have to do that as much with a dog but you still have to care for them and take care of their needs. I do not feel that just because you have a dog that makes you ready to become a parent. Becoming a parent is a much bigger step than caring for a dog. So for now enjoy having a dog and learn from caring for them. All your experiences in life shape the person you are.
As a final note I want to mention that you should NOT get a dog to prepare for having a baby. Get a dog to had a dog. A friend and companion. If you feel a little baby crazy coming over you take some time to think about what you want in your future. If you think there may be a baby in the near future don’t get a dog. Wait for the baby. Volunteer at a shelter, or baby sit a friends baby. I love my pets but found that having a baby changes your view of them. They really are your pets, not your baby. Now that I have a toddler, 2 dogs, and a cat, I find things more challenging. The toddler comes first and my pets are now second class citizens. While I feel bad about it because they used to be my babies, things changed when I brought Squiggles the baby home.