As a devoted pet parent, you have likely made the comparison of pet parenthood to being a human parent. You have also likely heard human parents laugh and say that there is no likeness between the two. There are certainly plenty of variances between these two parental journeys, but non-pet parents may be surprised to learn of the many similarities as well.
Although parenthood and pet parenthood differ in terms of the species being raised, the simple fact is that in either situation you are responsible for another living being. You must feed them, shelter them, provide them with care, socialize them, and educate them. Certainly, the methods of doing these things differ, but ultimately your goal is the same – to raise a healthy, well-balanced individual with the skills needed to survive on their own later in life.
You’re Held Responsible for Their Behavior
Whether you have human kids or fur kids, you are ultimately held responsible for their behavior. What they do is a reflection on how you raised them, so you’d better hope that you raised them well.
You Probably Can’t Have Nice Things
With small kids or puppies in the household it doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s nice, you can’t have it. Kids will throw up on it, break it, flush it down the toilet, and puppies will chew it, pee on it, or bury it in the yard. When they get older, things might change but the chances are that you’re still going to be on edge because… they’re probably still going to break it.
The financial commitment of raising kids and dogs falls in both sections of this piece. When it comes to similarities, raising kids and raising dogs both require a financial commitment. While that commitment differs in terms of cost, the simple fact is that without a steady stream of income, you’re not going to be able to properly provide for either.
Communication is Lacking
New baby, dog, it doesn’t matter which one we’re talking about, your communication is limited to body language, interpretation, and past experience. Neither a baby nor a puppy can tell you what they need or what you can do to make them feel comfortable; it’s all a guessing game!
And Oh, the Embarrassment
When little Jenny shouts from the bathroom stall that she needs her bottom wiping and she shouts it loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear… When your dog gets so excited to mount another dog at the dog park that he simultaneously throws up and has diarrhea… Parental embarrassment doesn’t have species boundaries.
The Handbook to Raising… Anything
Walk into a bookstore and you’ll find plenty of books on raising children and raising dogs, but no matter how many of these books you read, you’re not going to find all the answers. Kids and dogs are both individuals and neither one will fall into a nice neat mold that will let you raise them perfectly. Bottom line – you’re going to screw up occasionally with both of them.
Yours is Always the Cutest
Whether we’re talking about kids or dogs, yours is always the cutest and while you can admire everyone else’s, yours is always going to be the best looking, most talented, most adorable… and you're not wrong.
You Do Everything You Can to Provide With the Best
There are different considerations when it comes to providing for your dog and providing for your child, but it doesn’t matter what those considerations are, you’re going to do your best to provide. You will research for hours, read reviews, unnecessarily go to doctors or vets when you think something might be wrong.
The highs and lows of parenting any species are emotional. You put your heart and soul into raising a healthy and happy living being and when things go wrong, your child gets hurt, you face dire circumstances – it hurts. Likewise, when things go well and your kid accomplishes something great, you celebrate.
You Question Your Ability to Parent
As a parent of a human child, you’ll have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. As a new dog parent, you’re going to feel the same way. Either way, you fumble your way through it and figure it out.
The Joys of Unsolicited Advice
Whether you bring a new puppy home or give birth to your first child, you should be prepared to be bombarded with unsolicited advice. You should also be prepared to nod and smile because you’ll find yourself doing it a lot when that advice starts coming.
You Can’t Just Be the Good Guy
If you want a well-behaved child or a well-behaved dog, you have to learn quickly that you can’t always be the good guy. Once in a while you’re going to have to play the disciplinarian and set limits, failure to do so will result in a problem child or a problem dog.
You Don’t Always Trust the Professionals
When you have children, you’re going to find yourself questioning doctors, child-rearing experts, and just about everything else. Should you go with anti-vaxxers or should you go against them? Should you go with an organic diet or not? The struggles are just the same for pet parents. Even if you have less training than professionals, your parenting instincts will force you to ask questions and seek out the best for your little one. And sometimes, the amount of questioning you do will drive you crazy, but no matter what you choose, you will find a way to do right by your kid or your furkid.
Housetraining Takes Much Less Time Than Potty Training
When it comes to potty training, the time spent housetraining your dog pales in comparison. It takes just a couple of weeks to get your pup accustomed to the routine. Kids? Well, it takes a few years to have everything down pat.
You Know Where Your Dog Is
As a dog parent, you always know where your dog is (especially late at night on a Friday night!) but as a human parent, once those teenage years hit, you’re left wondering where your kid is and what they’re doing, letting your imagination go wild.
You can spay and neuter your dog but you can’t sterilize your children. What does that mean? It means that you’re going to spend your child’s teenage years worrying about premature grandparenthood. As a pet parent, you can nip the problem in the bud with a simple surgery early in your dog’s life and never have to worry about it again.
Flexibility of Schedule
When you have kids in tow you don’t have the kind of flexibility that you had in your life without kids. When you have a dog you might face certain restraints on your time or schedule, but they just don’t compare when it all comes down to it. Why? Because you just can’t shut your kid in a crate for a few hours and run to the store, hoping he'll calmly wait in peace.
Although raising dogs and kids both require a financial commitment, the truth is that the financial commitment for raising a dog is much less per year and in most circumstances, your child is going to live much longer than your dog.
You Don’t Get to Pick Your Kid
When it comes to getting a dog, you have a choice of the type of dog you pick, the size of dog you pick, and sometimes you even get to pick the type of personality your dog has. With kids, things are much less certain. You have no idea what or who you are getting and you just have to go with it.
You Don’t Carry a Dog for 9 Months or Give Birth to Them
As much as we love our dogs, there is simply no comparison to carrying a child for 9 months and then giving birth. As dog owners, we only have to pay adoption fees or pay breeders and neither of those things involves the physical pain of pushing a tiny human out of our bodies. I am not saying that you have to go through pregnancy or birth to become a parent. I'm simply pointing out that when you have a dog, you don’t face either of these things.
So Much Can Go Wrong
Raising a dog you face illness and behavioral concerns, but the truth is that when you compare those problems with the potential problems faced by parents of human children, it all pales in comparison.
Your Kid Can Eventually Talk
When you first get a puppy or give birth to a child, neither one can directly tell you what they need. This changes as your child gets older, however, and they are able to vocalize what hurts, where it hurts, why it hurts, and what they need to make it better. As a pet parent, you can learn to read your dog’s body language, but you will never know for certain if you’re doing the right thing.
Your Dog Doesn’t Mean to Do Bad Things
When your dog poops on your newest edition of Scientific American (or Elle, same difference), you can be pretty sure they didn’t intentionally target the issue you haven’t read yet on purpose. When your kid does it… well, I'm not so sure.
Sure, if you have a child with long hair, you’ve experienced clogged shower drains and the frequent need to vacuum, but when it comes to hair, dogs win every time. When you own a pooch you will quickly find that dog hair is most definitely a condiment and an accessory.
Your Secrets Are Safe with Your Dog
When you tell your dog a secret or they overhear you say something in confidence, you can be pretty sure that your secret isn’t going anywhere. The same thing can’t be said for human children. Let slip that daddy is being a meanie and you can expect Junior to announce it to his entire preschool class.
Most human parents will fortunately not have the experience of having to say goodbye to their children. Unfortunately, pet parents will always have to face the reality of seeing their pets pass away. And no, I'm not comparing the grief of losing a dog to losing a child (though some say it's the same) simply saying that dog parents know that it’s coming.
The Next Time You Consider Making a Snide Remark About Parenthood…
The next time you consider making a snide remark about parenthood, no matter whether you’re a human parent, a pet parent, or not a parent at all, be considerate before you speak. Know that there are many types of parents out there and each faces their own struggles and rewards.