Chihuahua in a teacup

5 Reasons Why Pet Ownership Will Prepare You For Parenthood

“Hey, wake up.”


“It’s your turn to take Mr. Kermit outside.”

“Oh, right. Just five more minutes.”

Two minutes later: BARK BARK BARK.

“Alright, alright.”

I’ve heard plenty of stories over the years of people who’ve used pet ownership as a test run for baby ownership. Is ‘ownership’ the right word? Maybe not, but the best pet owners treat their dogs with the same level of care they would a newborn baby.

Well, almost. But the truth remains that a dog can teach you and your significant other a lot about how you’d fare as parents.

1. Babies and Dogs Get Hungry

When a baby is hungry, he or she will let you know about it. Dogs operate on more of a schedule, but they need to be fed just like new tiny humans. The good news is that instinct will allow dogs to eat on their own, so it’s an easy warmup compared with the demands of a hungry infant who just wants to throw their food all over the kitchen.

2. Natural Business

Scooping up dog waste on the sidewalk might not seem like a lot of fun at first (or ever, really), but it pales in comparison to the experience of changing a baby after the deed has been done. Coping with a dog’s natural habits will break down any previously held discomfort for the act, so when the time comes to deal with a child, it won’t be so bad. Hopefully.

3. The Art of Teaching

Raising a dog and raising a child isn’t so different in the early years. Teaching both to behave in a certain way is based off a simple system of rewards. Want to teach your dog to sit? Use treats. Want to teach your child to clap? Perform the action yourself and then smother them with praise and affection when they’re successful. Children will grow out of this stage, but by this time you’ll have an understanding of how they learn and how you can communicate best with them. Pets? Just keep using treats.

4. The Art of Discipline

No one is saying that kids and pets react the same way to different types of discipline. Heck, different kids react differently – wait, the same child can react completely differently one minute to the next. Since kids lack the same logic centres as their adult counterparts, it’s tricky to teach them to respond to reason. What pets can teach you about discipline, however, has more to do with how you react to something bad, rather than how your pet or your eventual child will react.

5. Learning More About Your Parenting Style

Finally, the real benefit of pet ownership before owning a child is analyzing what type of parent you’ll be. Will you be patient? Supportive? Rigid? Creative? These are all attributes you might not be aware you possessed before taking pet ownership for a spin. And in the case of both dog rearing and people rearing, ‘a spin’ in each case is a life-long commitment to providing the care and attention required by your human offspring or your furry canine child.

Pet ownership teaches you what parenting is like when you don’t feel like being a parent. It’s in these instances we learn the most about how we’re truly going to react to the challenges of parenthood.

Owning a pet teaches us responsibility, compassion and leadership. Not to the extent required by actual children, but it gives us a headstart.

Just remember, once a child does come along, you’ve still got a responsibility to keep your dog happy. And by that point, chances are you’ll be well prepared for the job.

Puppy With His Toy

5 Steps to Take 2 Weeks Before the New Pup Arrives

The day is here! The new puppy arrives! Getting a new dog to join your family is an important event in both your life and the dog’s life, an exciting time for both man and beast!

Hopefully you’ve taken the time to consider the best breed for your lifestyle or the size of your home, particularly if you live in an apartment. It’s handy when your personalities match as well. Most of the time, anyways.

After all, puppies come with growing pains. The good news is you can avoid a lot of problems by following a few simple guidelines.

1. Puppy-Proof Your Home

Not only do you want to avoid the destruction of a pair of expensive shoes, more importantly, you don’t want your new pup to get his teeth on something that could harm him. Dogs chew for plenty of reasons, one of them being the simple desire to explore, just like a baby. Some breeds like to chew more than others, but all puppies will get their teeth into something they shouldn’t at some point. Get your pup a variety of toys and encourage chewing of ‘his’ things, not yours.

2. Respect the Neighbours

Your dog will bark. It’s going to happen. If you live in an old apartment with thin walls then it’s probably a good idea to look for a breed that doesn’t bark at his own shadow. Either way, it’s a good idea to slide a note under your neighbour’s door to let them know of the impending arrival. They’ll be a lot more likely to cut you some slack when the barking starts.

3. Set Up a Private Base

Everyone needs a quiet place to which they can retreat when they get tired or overwhelmed. A crate or a bed your dog can call his own will give them somewhere to nap or relax. The natural denning instinct in dogs is different than humans – we don’t like being confined, but dogs need their own space where they can feel safe and secure. If you have young children, it will also help them learn to respect their new roommate’s space.

4. Mental Prep

Before the new pup arrives, and even before you give strong consideration to adopting a new member of the family, it’s crucial to ask yourself the tough questions.

      • Can our home handle it?
      • How will we react when he chews up the remote control?
      • Will we be able to give him all the comfort and attention he needs?

Welcoming a new member of the family is always accompanied by good moments and difficult ones. There’s no need to hide from the those tough moments like barking, chewing, slobbering or bathroom accidents, but it’s just important to be aware of them and prepared for them.

5. Set Up A Support Network

This one is easy – people love puppies – and crucial. Finding a neighbour or a cousin or a co-worker to puppy-sit or take your pup for walks shouldn’t be too hard. Just make sure you prepare them for potential issues, like barking at other dogs or running wild off-leash. It’s ok to seek assistance with a new dog because we all need breaks sometimes. Plus, being busy with life and work shouldn’t make dog ownership impossible.

We need to make sure we’re prepared when a new pup arrives so we can spend time enjoying the new addition. Following these simple steps will alleviate stress for everyone.

Now, do you feel prepared? Yes? Then there’s only one thing left to do!

Beach Dog

What Our Pets Mean to Us (& Why It’s So Hard When They’re Gone)

Name the last week where you didn’t make some type of mistake.

Sorry for the negativity, but believe me, there’s a point to this.

So think about it, any mistake. A mixup at work, a speeding ticket, a dropped plate in the kitchen – mistakes happen, they’re a part of life.

Now, think of the last time your dog judged you for that mistake.

Empathy Minus the Judgment

What do our pets mean to us? First we should ask what we mean to our pets. Dogs, cats, hamsters, goldfish – it doesn’t matter what your pet is, they’re part of the family. They love us unconditionally no matter what happens. Well, cats might be another matter, but as long as we feed them, right?

Dogs are with us when we go for long hikes during gorgeous sunsets. They stand by our side when people break up with us. They comfort us when loved ones pass on. They even stand in support when our kids turn three and we start pulling our hair out.

Dogs are with us through thick and thin, a powerful symbol of family, love and support.

And they never have to say a word.

A Reflection of Character

Part of the reason we love our pets so much is how unique they become even though they look exactly like other breeds. Think about it – your Alaskan Husky, the big softy. Your Jack Russel, curious about everything. Your … cat. Just, angry at everything.

Our pets remind us that it’s alright to be unique in a world where everyone is supposed to buy the same clothes and the same gadgets. Dogs don’t care what they look like when they’re mindlessly chasing butterflies in the park, so why should we care what we look like when we pull the ol’ jogging pants out of retirement?

We shouldn’t care. If humans were more like pets then we wouldn’t be self-conscious about our weight, our hair or wearing that AC/DC shirt from 1982.

(I wasn’t alive in 1982, but still.)

Plus, your dog would most likely love to help you get back in shape!

When They’re Gone

Animals, with us to the end, teach us not only about their lives, but about our own mortality. They die earlier than us in most cases, and they remind us to live our own lives to the fullest.

They develop special bonds with our children, teaching them unmatched love and appreciation for the things we have while we still have them. Indeed, they inspire our children in ways we could never imagine and never hope to replicate.

But the hardest thing about watching our animals die? Well, it’s also the best part:

They don’t say anything. They quietly go to sleep without requiring anything from us – not a painful goodbye or another forced sentence. They let us live on with the knowledge we gave them a good life.

And in return, they gave us something we could never find anywhere else.

Police Dog

4 Reasons Why Dogs Are Boosting the Mental Health of Humans

Praising your dog and giving him treats does a lot for his self esteem. Can you imagine perfectly performing a trick and being gifted with a treat? Every time? That would be amazing!

Unfortunately for humans our emotions aren’t so easily swayed. Sure, we operate on a basic system of rewards as well:

  • We work, we get paid
  • We eat, we get full
  • We exercise, we get healthy
  • We watch Old Yeller, we get sad

But the human mind isn’t so cut and dry. Human beings’ self awareness means we’re constantly considering elements that have nothing to do with rewards. How long will we live? Why do I feel this way? Does life get any easier?

Now, the bulk of this conversation is just slightly too vast for your friendly neighbourhood dog blogger, but one thing we do know is that our pets go a long way toward improving our daily mental condition.

How, you ask?

1. They Make Us Feel Useful

Let’s start with the positive aspects of the human-pet relationship. We all want to feel useful in life – useful to our kids, useful at our jobs and useful to the world. Sometimes it just isn’t accurate though.

Except when it comes to our pets.

We feed our pets. We shelter our pets. We share a love with our pets that’s often stronger than the love we share with other people!

And for that, our pets are eternally grateful.

2. They Treat Us The Same When We’re Sick

There comes a time in everyone’s life when the ol’ clock starts to tick and we realize we’re getting older. Often it’s the same time things start to go wrong and we come down with different illnesses.

It’s why pet therapy is a growing practice in hospitals all over the world.

Why? Because pets don’t care if we’re sick. All they need is love and they’ll return the affection tenfold, enough to help us forget our problems if only for a moment.

3. They Can Be Jerks, Too

Just wait, hear me out.

When was the last time watching the news put you in a better mood? The petty crimes, the arrogance, the inconsiderate people out there – it’s frustrating to say the least.

Well, you know what? Dogs can be jerks, too. Dogs will tear up the couch just because. Dogs will go to the bathroom on the floor while staring you straight in the eyes.

But not all dogs. Heroes exist in the canine world just the same as they exist in the human world.

Plus, the jerk dogs? They can be trained to grow out of this jerk-tastic behaviour.

That gives me hope that humans can be trained as well. And hopeful is a powerful mental state in which to be.

4. They’re Family

Dogs are so much more than domesticated beasts trained to fetch sticks and balls. Dogs have a natural part to play in the overall family dynamic. When they arrive we celebrate. When they die we mourn.

The lifespan of a pet is an accelerated look at our own mortality. Sharing your home with a pet attaches us to reality, it reminds we’re human beings who will grow, learn and, if we have the desire, become anything we want to be.

Dogs are happy every day and all they really need is a comfy bed and a loving home.

And truthfully, do humans really require much more than that to find that same state of contentment?

Go hug your dog everybody.

photo credit: Kobold … 9-11 Therapy Dog via photopin (license)