We’ve all been there.
New parents show up at work or a social event after a few weeks absence. They have bags under their eyes, clothes with vigorously wiped off spit-up stains, and a gleam in their eyes, desperate for true adult conversation. Co-workers and friends ask what it’s like with a newborn.
“It’s great,” the proud parents say, “I just wish I could get a little more sleep.”
“I know what you mean,” their childless and misguided-yet-well-meaning friends say. “I just got a puppy. It is ROUGH.”
The parents smile and laugh, fighting the urge to murder the one in front of them. Because owning a dog and having a kid are NOTHING ALIKE. At least that’s what I believed.
Until I got a dog.
I remember the first weekend we brought our dog home. He was adopted somewhat unexpectedly (we had been looking for months but had only met him that morning). He happened to be brought home the same day my in-laws were taking both kids for the weekend. Oh, how I looked forward to sleeping in! Then the fateful morning came,
and the dang dog woke me up at 5 am.
Irony of ironies.
Since then I have discovered many similarities between the experiences of new parents and new puppy-parents. There are way more than I ever first expected. Now, now. I know some of you in the parents camp are rolling your eyes, but don’t leave just yet. The similarities may surprise you. And before you pet parents get too cocky, I include at the end the definitive reasons why the experiences are NOT the same.
Caveats: my experiences as a parent involves two extremely energetic young boys, the oldest being 4. My experience as a dog-mom is one of a 2 year-old black lab-spaz mix. (Is “spaz” a new abbreviation for a dog breed Jessica? No. My dog is just a spaz.) Not every scenario I give applies to all parents, all babies, or all dogs.
13 Ways Having a Puppy is Just Like Having a Baby
1. Energetic AF.
Please excuse my abbreviated language, but gosh darn. Where do kids and dogs get so much energy? This isn’t as true for the youngest newborn stages, but once those kids start moving, they never stop (at least mine never have). And I thought since my dog was a little older when we adopted him, he’d be past the puppy stage. NOPE. Apparently dogs are still considered adolescents until about 3. But he’ll chill out a bit after that. Right? Right?!
2. Both need to be “exercised”
We all know that dogs need to be taken on plenty of walks, or allowed plenty of time to run around in the backyard, or else they become destructive inside the house. Did you also know that THIS IS TRUE OF TODDLERS AS WELL?? At least of my toddlers. Giving them time and space to run out there energy is important for both small beings. If you’re lucky, outdoor excursions will tire the little beasts out. If you’re me, going outside will just excite them further :-P.
3. Both can be picky eaters
We all knew toddlers and little kids can be picky-eaters (although I hate that assumption), but did you know dogs can be too? I grew up with a dog who would eat literally anything (and I’ve got some pretty disgusting stories to prove it). But I’ve met more and more dog-owners complaining of picky dogs. From mixing coconut oil or cheerios or shredded cheese into dry dog-food, to alternating dry and canned, to table-food exclusively, dog owners may also need to be creative to make sure their furry friends get the nutrition they need.
4. Both keep you from sleeping
Of course babies keep you up at night, right? Some will start sleeping through the night after a few weeks or months. If you’re lucky. Again, if you’re like me, you kids won’t sleep through the night until a year/year-and-a-half-ish. Thankfully they sleep through the night most of the time, but between the two of them, I still get woken up in the middle of the night at least once a week. But I did not know that you have to sleep train puppies as well. THANKFULLY my two-year-old adoptee pup was already sleeping through the night (and I’ve convinced him to sleep in as well). But younger puppies may take a few weeks to get it right.
5. Both need to be taught proper behavior
We all know about obedience school for dogs. Even if you don’t send your dog to obedience school, there are tons of books, videos, and products designed to teach your dog proper behaviors, ie. not running out into the middle of the street, eating off the counter, biting their friends. Having a baby is basically signing up to teach an 18-year course of human obedience school. When you have kids, you need to teach them how to be productive, meaningful members of society, ie. not running out into the middle of the street, eating off the counter, biting their friends.
6. Both need to be potty trained
This is pretty obvious for both dogs and toddlers, but it’s not something I had considered before. Once again, THANKFULLY, my dog was house-broken before we got him. (The same can definitely NOT be said the same for my kids… One of whom I still need to potty train). Even our older dog has had one or two accidents since we got him. Trust me, cleaning poop off the playroom rug isn’t fun, regardless the species.
Speaking of which, both having a dog and having a baby consists of a lot of DEALING WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S POOP. Between diapers and doggy-poop-bags, I have handled more than enough poop in my day. I will say, at least one day my kids won’t need me to help deal with their *ish. Unfortunately, I’ll be picking up my dog’s poop for as long as he lives.
7. Both make big messes.
This seems like a good segue from poop. But both kids and dogs are messy. Whether it be bringing in mud, or knocking plates and cups off the dinner table, or systematically destroying everything in your home that you hold dear, both dogs and little humans can be walking disasters. For what it’s worth, my kids are way messier than the dog lol.
8. Both are attention seeking.
This may boil down to personality, but my kids and my dog are constantly fighting for my attention. “Hey look! Mom is sitting down to fold laundry. Let’s all crawl into her lap at once.” Between that, or barking, or being asked for snacks 50 times in a row (I guess the dog is asking for snacks by barking as well), it is a rare moment in this house where one can forget a dog and two children live in it.
9. Dependent on you
Can they take themselves outside? No. Can they get themselves food? No. Can they bathe themselves? No. Can they take themselves to get medical care? No. Can they entertain themselves for even just 15 minutes so you can have some peace and quiet? Maybe. Probably no. Am I talking about puppies or babies? I don’t even know anymore.
Personally, I never knew how snuggly dogs could be until we got Buster. He has got to be the most cuddly animal on the planet. This dog wants nothing but love and snuggles all day. He sleeps on my pillow most nights. You might be asking how small he is? About the size of our 3 year old. Nothing huge, but he ain’t no lap dog (although he definitely acts like one). And of course babies are snuggly. That’s the only reason to have babies in the first place. Or at least the second reason.
Most dogs bark. As much as I enjoy how the weather has cooled down and allowed me to open the windows, letting in a crisp breeze, the open windows means my dog has a chance to overhear every person, dog, squirrel, leaf that walks past the house. And he greets them most enthusiastically. Usually while the children or I am trying to nap. Not that the children are any better. I’m pretty sure if you looked up “Loud” in the dictionary, my kids would be screaming so loud in the other room you’d be too distracted to read the entry.
12. Too cute to stay angry at.
If one thing is to be said about both dogs and babies, is that they’re SO STINKIN CUTE. No wonder the internet is full of them. And, of course, after they do something wrong and you’re trying to give them a stern talking to, they’ll give you those lil’ puppy dog eyes or else do a ridiculous little stunt that gets you giggling. So infuriating. So endearing.
13. Love you unconditionally.
This is probably the biggest reason anyone decides to either adopt a pet or have a child. Now, some may argue that the love for a human child is stronger than the love someone can have for a pet, but this isn’t true for every person. Maybe it’s true for most people. Maybe not. I haven’t run a survey. But I know many people who love their pets exactly like children, even more so. Some people don’t love animals. Some love animals more than their own children. Some love animals more than people in general. You can (probably) tell for yourself if you love your kids and pets equally or not, but I think we can all agree, puppies and babies are both pretty great. 🙂
How dogs and babies are different
There are a lot of things I can put in this section. Like the biological draw to protect and cherish your genetic miniatures or the physical and emotional strain pregnancy puts on a young mother (neither of which apply to adopted children, but I digress). The highs and lows of guiding your child’s ambitions and dreams. The agony of fretting over the moral/political/religious/worldviews of your child. Worrying about their first boyfriend/girlfriend. Rejoicing over their job promotions/graduations/marriages/etc.
But there is ONE reason, above all others, that makes owning a pet NOTHING like having a young child.
You can leave the house without a pet, but not without your child.
Can you imagine? “Ok, Billy, you sit tight while Mommy runs to Target. I’ve got a bottle in the Pack N Play in case you get hungry. If you need anything, scream real loud. I’m sure the neighbors will hear you. Ok, love you, bye.” With a newborn, you either need to take the kid with you wherever you go (ever been to the DMV with a baby? It’s *awesome*). Or, you have to pay someone to watch your kid. Date night is made that much more romantic, knowing the childcare will cost more than your meal.
Anyways, that about wraps it up. I hope you found this funny. I mean no offense to either sets of parents. You are all incredibly hard-working and loving and I respect each and every one of you. There is still so much more I could add to this list (maybe I’ll do a part 2 one day). What about you? Are you a human-parent or pet-parent? Both? Neither? What similarities or differences have you noticed. Let me know!