Does Owning Dogs Prepare You For Raising Kids?

We can all agree that dogs are family.  Dogs bring happiness and joy.  Dogs need to be taken care of and trained.  Dogs need to be loved, and in turn love you back.  And when dogs pass on to doggy heaven, we lose a large part of us.  The whole family does.

Dogs need tons of attention if you want to be known as a responsible dog owner.  When I take my little man, Sherman (the German), to the dog park, I teach him park etiquette.  When we go on walks, I teach him leash manners.  He isn’t allowed to beg, he’s not allowed to jump, and when I mean business, he knows to stop what he’s doing.

But doesn’t everyone’s dogs?

Hell no!  There are tons of houses you walk in, and you’re like… does it smell like piss in here?Where’d my food go?  The dog just chewed up my shoes… I mean seriously?  I just took these motherfuckers off!!!!

That’s because not everyone puts complete energy into training or “etiquette.”  That is a serious statement.  Please understand when I say this.  Not everyone puts the same energy in training their dogs to be “Canine Good Citizens.”

That’s a real thing in case you were wondering.

It takes a special type of pride or determination (or getting lucky with a naturally well behaved dog), that gets you to a point where people go out of their way to let you know they recognize that your dog is well-behaved.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m no dog-whisperer.

So my ultimate question is, does owning dogs prepare you for raising kids?

How preposterous right!?!?! How dare I ask such a thing.  I mean, only an asshole would compare raising his stupid dogs to raising a kid.

See, these are the things I had to hear when I did compare raising my dogs to raising kids.  When I was in the Marine Corps, I used to get scolded by parents when I would compare how well behaved my dogs were to people’s kids.  Scolded.  I would say things like “my dogs know not to run in the street,”  “Bosco (my pit) knows better than to leave my sight,” and it wouldn’t be far from the truth.

There is knowledge that dog owners coincidentally share with parents;

Dogs need to be fed;  and I mean good healthy food if you’re looking for your kids… I mean pups to have the best health and life longevity possible.

Dogs need shots;  and even after the shots, you need to be careful to follow the doctors advice in order to keep your dog from dying from parvo at an early age, or rabies from other parents’ owners’ dogs who don’t necessarily take care of their dogs, or follow the rules like you do.  Chicken pox or lice anyone…?

Dogs need attention;  Like all the time.  If you don’t pay attention to your dog, they will find a way for you to pay attention… by ripping up your shoes, clothes, furniture, photos, dvds, trash, homework… coloring on your walls, carpet, wrecking your yard… are you catching my drift?

Dogs need love; You need to love your dog, because if you raise your hand to your dog (and I’m guilty), your dog will develop a certain fear that you can never take back.  They also need to be coddled and hugged, and allowed to fall asleep in your lap every so often…

Dogs need potty training; unless you own a candle company (you know… to mask the smell).  Kids need potty training, unless you own a cotton field, cotton gin, and a few dozen sweat shop workers to make your endless supply of clothes and bed sheets.

Dogs need guidance; You need to teach your kids dogs what’s right and what’s wrong.  You need to teach your dog how to act around strangers, and make sure they act right when you’re not around.

Dogs need socialization; they need to learn how to play well with others.  They need to learn how to share.  Kinda like play dates at Gymboree.

Dogs need toys….

Dogs need babysitters… Even when you leave for vacation, you need to find a puppy-sitter you can trust, or enroll in a doggy day care.

Dogs need bed times.  And dog owners need doggies to have bed times too.

Dog owners need patience.

I mean… how can you not see the likeliness of kids and dogs (of responsible dog owners).

Does this sound familiar; “COME HERE!!! COME H… I SAID.. Come…HEY… ungh…” “Get off the couch,” “no,” “DOWN!” No.” NO!” “PUT THAT DOWN.” “Leave it.  LEAVE IT ALONE!”  Or what about the quiet?  That’s right… the “it’s-way-too-quiet-in-here” quiet.  The quiet when you know you’re about to turn the corner and see the murdered twins from the Overlook Hotel (Shining reference? Check!) standing in the kitchen with your dog on a leash, feeding all your cook books to him…

I Can't Leave You Alone for TEN Minutes...

I Can’t Leave You Alone for TEN Minutes…


… and you can’t do anything but blame yourself, because you know better than to keep stuff you cherish within the dog’s reach.

These are the same troubles parents have with their kids.

I know this is a blog about my first time having a kid, so what do I know right?  But I’d been around dozens of parents raising kids; from birth to college… even marriage.  I’ve had second hand experience, and while I understand it’s not first hand experience, I am no dummy.  I’m pretty keen to observation, and soak in lessons that I’ve learned myself, and also learn from other’s trials and tribulations.

At the time I had my first two dogs, I didn’t have children.  I wasn’t expecting children.  I wasn’t trying to make children… so in essence, those dogs were MY children.  They replaced the direct genetic offspring, and I looked forward to spending time with them, as parents do with their children.  I hated leaving the house for too long, and if I could, I would have them tag along.  They were my (pseudo) children.  They were my family.

I understand dogs and children are different.  I do.  Fully.  However, I am just asking, how am I an asshole to think that maybe… just maybe, if you understand the necessity of raising a “Canine GOOD citizen,” then maybe… maybe, I may not be prepared, but am more prepared than the average guy who is a non-dog owner?

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Posted in Did He Really Just Say That?, Getting Ready, Those Odd moments...with 23 comments.


  • Nadi says:

    I’ll keep this short and sweet. Dogs are not people. I wish people would stop trying to make the comparison. It’s like you are trying to convince the world of your “nobleness” to take care of a pet. Ask me to change my schedule for my child….in a heartbeat. Ask me to adjust my schedule for a dog? Nope…not interested.

    • I think that you missed the point of the piece, in which I was stating that taking care of a pet simply gets you ready… as in prepares you for certain situations. By no means is anyone stating that it’s a one-for-one swap, however there are people who are unable to have kids, and they would in fact make that comparison because they would in fact adjust their schedule.

      It’s ok to have a little fun and think outside the box sometimes…

  • Kell says:

    Thanks for you blog and every ones differing replies
    I’m a 48 year old male that has not fathered a child and has started a relationship with a new lady that has two girls from her first marriage.
    We have talked about our own child as time is moving on rapidly for both of us. This prompted me to read your article
    My partners girls are 11 and 9 and to me have a wide range of peculiar challenges.
    I HAVE owned dogs over the last 22 years All being Rottweilers
    They have all required a lot of work like you have pointed out.
    When you are confronted with a situation that you don’t know how to fix or what to do I think we all turn to what we know best.
    My partners 11 year old intriegs me as I see shocking likenesses in behaviour to my toughest male dog.
    Now —– I know a lot of your readers will be sceptical or even maybe appalled but like I mentioned I’m a complete novis and tried basic dog training technique and guess what —– it worked like a treat.
    Nooooooo I didn’t yell sit!!!! Or down or take her food from her although I have been tempted at times lol.
    I watched – I observed behaviour – I took note of diet and introduced fruit.
    Secondly I introduced hard exercise as I recognised stress in a wee soul that was exploding to relieve energy.
    All this was all I knew from my years of raising a breed of very similar temperament ( my three dogs. )
    Simple. If it works and works well to create a positive outcome for the family why knock it?

    • Kell,

      Thanks for you response. And I wish more people would see it outside the box like you do. In your example you see the training aspect, and training children to behave is very much like training dogs when it comes to the theoretical aspect. Use positive or negative reinforcers for positive or negative behaviors. It all circles back around to Pavlov’s dog experiments of how to manipulate behavior… (when it comes to scientific data)…

      Good luck with both of those kids! Sounds like you have a plateful!!

  • Mark Rayshell says:

    I had to laugh when I found your site here because I have been saying this for years, raise your kids like you should raise your dogs. If you can control your dogs, you can control your kids, at least when they are young. I have trained many dogs and raised two very good girls. I realized that I was doing basically the same things with my girls as I did with the dogs. My new saying is that the Dog Whisperer should be made secretary of education or at the very least, he’d make a great teacher.

    Dogs and kids, especially very young ones, need to be obedient and follow the rules of where they are. Dogs are happier when then know the rules and follow them and so are kids. When you teach both dogs and kids, they ALL have to know you mean business. Kids, like dogs, can see weakness and instinctively exploit it. Its an amazing phenomenon to witness.

    Any way, nuff said.

    • Mark!

      I needed more people like you to stand up for me when this first posted! haha. It’s funny, because now that my son’s been born, I feel like this more than ever. Sleep-eat-poop-repeat. With the occasional play in (more me playing than him since he is only a month old).

      But yes… I whole-heartedly stand by everything you said!

      Thanks for reading!


  • Sara says:

    It’s not always about comparing poop and how much a child or a dog ruins your life.
    I think they key issue is, how creative is your mind? Can you pair up the lessons of love and patience, trust and challenges you may have learned from your children and apply it to raising a dog. Yes. And vice versa. If you can’t, that means you aren’t looking a life in a very creative or curious way. And that will prevent you from being truly open to new ideas about raising anything except your nose.
    I personally think children and animals are going to get much more from you as a creative thinker than as a fixed, rigid thinker. Kids and dogs both think waaaaaay outside the box. If you know how to do that too, both creatures will thrive. Kids and dogs are both incredibly sensitive beings. If you can feel your way through life too, you’ll be a much better parent. Why? Not because you skipped date night, but because you actually relate to your children and animals! I miss lots of social events and long vacations, but I could give a shit.
    As for people getting offended at the idea of the comparison between raising dogs and children… (And I love the people who have no dogs but still argue the point.) I mean, who would get that offended because someone else might compare one experience to another?? If it’s that outrageous of an idea, you should probably get off the internet. It is full of crazy notions. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean up some poop.

    • Can I get a standing ovation for this wonder woman right here?!?!?

      Sara, I couldn’t have vocally put it better myself. Such a strong and wonderfully written response, and I thank you for taking the time to write it.

      You’re absolutely correct in the fact that thinking outside of the box is going to be the thing that makes or breaks an individual trying to take care of something other than you. And this goes for anything in general… kids, pets… employee’s… elderly parents… MYSELF. I think you hit the nail on the head.

      Thanks for reading.


  • Crazy Dad says:

    The differences in dog owner and parent are 10000 miles apart. The sheer fact of TIME spent on children kills this theory. The worries that come with parenthood. For example rolling over you teach dogs this trick but you have to check and make sure your child hasn’t because their breathing might be blocked and so on. 1000% of your time will be dedicated to your child and I bet you cannot say the same for you pets.

    Pets are good for children to have to teach them responsibilities but by the time your an adult you should have those responsibilities already. I think the things you are comparing are these responsibilities and not the things that come with parenthood.

    • So I had readied myself for comments like yours, and to you sir I say NEY! Look I understand there are drastic differences between man and dog. HOWEVER, you’ve read too far into it.

      1) I would argue against the statement of “adults should have those responsibilities already.” That is a strong statement. There are adults who don’t know how to make top ramen, do laundry, clean toilets, grocery shop… very basic stuff that some of us take for granted. But you know… if you own a dog (and you’re a responsible dog owner, which is something I try to stress)… you know how to do all those things.

      2) Dogs get sick too. they may not die it they roll over incorrectly, but they will die if you don’t notice symptoms of sickness and take care of it.

      3) For me, my first two dogs… 1000% of my time was dedicated to those dogs (well one in particular). This is not a lie. I used to tell people that if I could leave everything behind and just buy an old pick up truck, it would just be me and Bosco on the road for life… So that argument is voided.

      4) Lastly, I’m not too sure if this is accurate yet, but isn’t “parenthood” just one huge ball of “responsibilities?” How can I not compare them? Feed, clean, health, educate, love… Isn’t that the essential thing for all living organisms?

  • tncowdaddy says:

    This is my first time to your site, and this is the first post I’ve read. May I say first of all that this is a brave post. I can think of many parents who would be offended simply for comparing raising a dog and raising a child. That you compare them and suggest they might be similar further concretes your audacity. So I commend your courage (or perhaps naivety?). As some comments suggest, many people won’t get past the differences between children and dogs (the subjects of the process) to see the similarities between parenthood and dog ownership (the process itself). As a parent and former dog owner, I agree with the premise that a responsible dog owner would be prepared to face parenthood. Notice I said “responsible”. An irresponsible dog owner is no better equipped for parenthood than anyone. Think of the qualities that one can develop from dog ownership: patience, discipline (both within oneself and within the dog), responsibility, trustworthiness, compassion, sacrifice, commitment. All of these are qualities that can help you become a great parent. However, the premise starts breaking down when you advance to higher function beyond basic biologicals. A dog isn’t going to refuse a walk because it doesn’t want to be seen in the neighborhood with its dad. A dog won’t eventually move away and get a dog of its own one day. Dog ownership can’t prepare you for dealing with a psychologically and emotionally complex human adolescent. But after all, what can?

    • I really enjoy your insight, and I wish that other people could see this through like-eyes. But as I’ve said, I’ll be making a follow up post, because I think its important for me to touch back on it. You hit every point so precisely. And I do understand, that this is a temporary thing. The older kids kids, the more unrealistic my argument. I COMPLETELY understand that 1000%. But in the beginning stages, I stick to my story! haha.


    • ArP says:

      I think what the blog was saying, was just that. It is about preparation, and learning responsibility of a dependent. I don’t think it says anywhere that it will be the exact same experience altogether, clearly there are more complicated things to consider when raising a human child, and as time passes, the more complex the challenges become…particularly when it comes to further teachings of life lessons, guidance, etc. I think people read the title and get worked up, then they are fogged throughout reading the rest of the blog entry. And there are definitely people who get dogs and aren’t responsible, they leave them for days sometimes, they do not train them, they do not take them to the vet, they let their dogs eat anything, they leave them alone as puppies when they tire of watching or training the pup, they don’t care too much about socializing the dog with other dogs or people, they are simply there as background noise. I have seen many of these people first-hand. The blog states “responsible” dog owners, so that would be those dog owners that take their dogs to the vet, watch their dog’s nutrition, keep a close eye on the development as a pup, exercise them, socialize them, train them, get a pet sitter if they are going out of town, and wholeheartedly bring them into the family, etc. So I think the blog is right on with what you are saying. Being a responsible dog owner can prepare you for some of the initial responsibilities you will face when you first have a child.

  • Megan says:

    My kid has yet to take a giant smelly shit on the floor, and/or eat the crotch out of my underwear. My kid also doesn’t eat dirty baby diapers. Kids > dogs. I don’t have patience for my 2 dog kids anymore.

  • Brina says:

    Never had a dog, but I do have a kid and I don’t think you can compare the two. Does your dog wake you up every couple hours during all hours of the night wanting to be fed and changed? Does your dog keep you from going out to dinner at night with your wife and enjoying a romantic, peaceful evening? When he (the dog) misbehaves what is his punishment? Do you have a cage he gets put into? Do you plan to use one for your child? I don’t think your dog ever refuses his food, or throws it back in your face. Do you plan to send your dog to college? I think a lot more time and energy goes into raising a child than a dog. These are just a few of the things I came up with off the top of my head; there is a whole lot more.

    • You’ve got questions and I’ve got answers;

      1) Does your dog wake you up every couple hours during all hours of the night wanting to be fed and changed?
      – This does go on. But not nearly as long as it would for a child. Dog (as puppies) whine often, and if you don’t monitor them at least on a half hour to hourly basis, you will find piss or poop in the house. Also, my littlest one now cries, and wakes up up often for attention and to be let out… so yes to that

      2) Does your dog keep you from going out to dinner at night with your wife and enjoying a romantic, peaceful evening?
      – Not so much the dinner part… maybe the peacful eveing part. But as I understand the dog can stay home by itself, the dogs do limit where I can go for a weekend or overnight. Or how long I can stay at someones house during game night…

      3) When he (the dog) misbehaves what is his punishment?
      – this is an obvious difference… but dogs do go on time outs. You’d be amazed at the personality of a dog, if you’ve never had one. Dogs know when they’ve gotten into trouble, and depending on the problem, warrants the punishment.

      4) Do you have a cage he gets put into? Do you plan to use one for your child?
      – Don’t you have a play pen for your kid? A Pack n Play maybe?

      5) I don’t think your dog ever refuses his food, or throws it back in your face.
      – Yes, and Yes. Sherman (our German) just recently decided that his food was good enough to eat and keep down. He’s almost a year old. And the stress of him not eating was overwhelming as well as embarrassing, cause when we took him out, people though he was malnurished and we weren’t taking care of him.

      6) Do you plan to send your dog to college?
      -College no. But I do plan on continuing his education in terms of training. Dogs go to school too. And Not all parents pay for College mind you. Mine didn’t, and I went to the Corps to get my free eduaction

      Although I understand your arguments, I think that nobody is “ready” for a kid. And the points you bring up I can argue left and right. I’m not saying it’s exatly the same, but I am saying that there are similarities in responsibility and I don’t think you should take that away from a dog owner.

    • susan says:

      Never had a dog, but I do have a kid and I don’t think you can compare the two. Does your dog wake you up every couple hours during all hours of the night wanting to be fed and changed? Does your dog keep you from going out to dinner at night with your wife and enjoying a romantic, peaceful evening? When he (the dog) misbehaves what is his punishment? Do you have a cage he gets put into? Do you plan to use one for your child? I don’t think your dog ever refuses his food, or throws it back in your face. Do you plan to send your dog to college? I think a lot more time and energy goes into raising a child than a dog. These are just a few of the things I came up with off the top of my head; there is a whole lot more.

      Like the OP suggest, it is a good prep for a new baby or in the early stages of a child’s life. 1. With systematic training by increasing the hours and reinforcing appropriate location for potty time, dog will be potty trained. This means that you DO have a to break off your 8 hrs beauty sleep into 2 hours increments at the beginning, then 3, then 4, etc. Eventually, they will learn to sleep through 8 hours or more, depending on the breed.

      2. My dog has enough self-control that I can leave him overnight. But for other dogs, you would need a dog sitter (just like a baby sitter) to take care of him if you want to go out with friends or a SO.

      3. When my dog misbehaves, he gets a time out. He does have short attention span (like all dog & children!) I do it according to his age with a sit stay. I also reinforce a stern “NO!” and it does stop him in his track, After his time out, I ask for some positive obedience commands to show that it is not him, but his behavior that I was displeased. This concept is similiar to asking an apology from your child after a time out. No we dont have a crate (cage) for him, bc its purpose is potty training, not a place to confine. Dogs dont see bars as confinement anyways! Do i see children in leashes? Yes all the time at the park!! explain that… some dog obedience training strategy can be used to teach self control and wandering off, just saying…

      3. Yes, dogs do refuse his kibbles because that steak youre eating is much better!!
      This is essential to establish authority and choices in my dog just as in a child because at the end of the day, he will eat the kibble or starve. A child would throe a tantrum because she wants dessert instead of eating her carrots. same. Dog eat grass and they puke, yes. I have a bulldog and they are predispose to allergies and sensitive stomache and a host of other genetic ailments due to the breed.

      4. I plan to make my dog a therapy dog, so more training and $$$. And I do have a fund for when he gets old or need surgery so yes!! there is a lot of preplanning to care and having a dog just like a child or any other intelligent beings!

      Just like how children dont know all words, dog dont know english. You learn how to be patient and creative to communicate with each other to establish authority, obedience, and self-control. That is what I learn in child development courses!!

      PS: I take child development and behavior therapy courses, and own a CGC dog.

      • May I get a standing round of applause for Susan!!!!!

        You took the words right out of my mouth! I was confused early on because I thought there was going to be another person attacking me for saying this, but you definitely have my back. And you have it in the most well spoken way only a true god dog owner will. All of these key notes are facts, and I’m glad other people can verbalize them better than I can!

        thanks for reading and commenting Susan!

  • Tatiana says:

    Having never owned a dog, I can’t answer the question from experience. But… I would never do for a dog what I’ve done for my kids which is why I would never be a good pet owner. I own fish and if I have time, I feed them, change their water etc., but if I don’t they don’t care.
    Does it prepare you? I’m sure it does. However, I can’t imagine getting the same satisfaction from raising a dog as you would from raising a child.
    I’m sure ur abundance of dog raising will give u a different perspective on raising a child vs someone who’s never had either but a year from the birth of ur first born, you should respond to all these comments with a blog called “the similarities and differences of raising a dog and a child.”
    That one would be interesting to read.

    • I ACCEPT THAT CHALLENGE! I would love to write a follow-up. And I agree with you 100% on getting the “same” satisfaction, but I tell you what… when Sherm learns a new trick or something from his obedience training, I’m pretty proud of him and excited to show it off.

  • Arleen says:

    Agreed, there are similarities for sure and it helps to build your patience as a soon to be parent. Obviously you aren’t saying it is the exact SAME, but simply, preparation. Word up.

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