Let’s face it –- for many of us, our dogs are the closest things we have to real children. They have lots of the same needs, and we often dote on them in a lot of the same ways. However, at the end of the day, our dogs are still just, well, dogs! They sniff strangers’ butts and eat poop. Hopefully, your human child will not engage in either of these behaviors.
My husband and I have a lifetime of experience with dogs and other animals, but we’ve finally taken the step to have a human baby. With less than 10 weeks to go, I’ve been frequently reminded that having a baby is a “huge responsibility” and “there’s no take-backs.” Whether these well-meaning people know it or not, my dogs through their behavior have spent quite a bit of time training me to be a good and patient mom, and yours probably have, too.
Here are 10 ways my dogs have prepared me for having a child:
1. Dogs don’t wear diapers
Maybe you’ve succeeded at this task, but I never did. They run around bare-bottomed, a constant pee and poop risk until you get them house-trained … or litter box trained. If you’re crate-training, they may even mess in their crate and smear it all over themselves like warpaint.
Believe it or not, you’ll thank your dog later for introducing you to this level of nastiness. You may expect that those diapers will contain all that is gross, but your dog has spoken –- expect the poop.
2. Dogs never get old enough to be left alone
Your kid will become a teenager one day, and while it may not be safe for your refrigerator or phone bill, it will be okay to leave them home alone for a day or maybe even a weekend. Not so for your dog. He still needs to go to the bathroom and be fed and have attention. Hopefully, this will remind you that your newborn needs the same.
3. Dogs will always do gross things
While your child will grow out of picking his nose and sticking boogers on random strangers in Wal-Mart (We hope!), your dog will always lick her butt in front of company. ALWAYS. If you can deal with your dog’s lifetime of grossness, you are prepared for a few years with a kid. I believe in you.
4. Dogs need social time
You know how tired they are after healthy interaction with other animals/dogs? That’s how your kid will be, too! I’ll know you didn’t listen if I see you walking your kid with a muzzle on one day in the future …
5. Dogs can’t talk
No matter how much we love Mishka from YouTube, dogs can’t really speak our language. Instead, we learn to read their body language. Until your child can tell you what hurts or what they need, you’ll have to read their body language, too!
6. Dogs can be dognapped — and your kids can be kidnapped
It’s the same thing –- someone steals your dog or kid. You know how you keep your dog safe by locking the doors on your house and car and keeping a close eye on them out in public? That’s exactly what you do for your kid!
Oh, and get this — you know how safe your dog is when he’s on a leash that you’re holding? Yeah, they make those for your kids, too. Seriously! No, it doesn’t attach to a collar –- it’s usually a Velcro leash that wraps around your wrist and attaches to a harness or piece of your child’s clothing. You may think that’s crazy now, but have you actually been to Disney World?
7. Dogs need good food, and they need to be fed regularly
In kid care, that translates to three meals a day with healthy snacks in between. No, ice cream does not count as a food group, for your kid or your dog!
8. Dogs go to the doctor
They need yearly physicals and vaccines. Even if you’re against vaccines (your dog still MUST have the rabies vaccine), it’s a good idea to have a physical every year just to keep an eye on your dog’s overall health. The same goes for your kid. Preventive care, like physicals, can help catch diseases early and keep your child on track to lead a long and healthy life.
9. Dogs are messy
They track mud on your floor, they destroy your favorite things, and they leave marks on your walls and furniture. If you’ve had a dog for a long time, you’ve realized that these messes just come with the territory of having dogs. It’s the same thing for kids, only your child may continue these behaviors a whole lot longer than your dog!
10. Your dogs will always need you
The same goes for you kids. I’m a grown woman with a good job, a household to manage, and a baby on the way, but I still look to my parents (when appropriate) for guidance. (I also call them when I’m really sick!) Even when your dogs and kids have gained more independence, they will always look to you for guidance, so it’s important to set a good example and be consistent with your expectations.
Even with my extensive “training” with dogs, I know I’ll never know all I need to know about parenting. Some things just have to be learned as you go. However, I like to think that my experiences have helped prepare me for the ups and downs of parenthood.
Seriously, if I can handle cleaning up wormy dog poop that a puppy smeared all over a dog crate at two in the morning, surely I can handle a diaper change!
Read more about dogs and kids on Dogster:
- Pro Tips for Navigating Life with Dogs and Kids
- Dogs Are the New Kids: Trite for Some, but True for Me
- So People Regret Owning Dogs After Having Kids? Really, Slate?
- Science Agrees: Having Dogs is Like Having Kids
- The Only Way to Test Baby Carriers: With Dogs
About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of two dogs (one being very dumb) and one cat. I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.