I’m thankful I had dogs before kids. When we got married, we knew we wanted kids in the future. Having the dogs before having a child gave us a chance to practice different roles, ways of discipline and how to care for something other than each other. If you are fighting the desire to care for something like a dog or a baby, then this post is for you
We got our dogs shortly after we got married. They taught us a lot about what kind of parents we were going to be.
Meet CJ, my daughter, and my loyal heeler/pitt bull Penny (the Dog-Dog).
GETTING TO KNOW ME || I’ve always been a dog/cat person. Penny was at our Pirate Wedding, although inside her mother’s belly, technically she was IN our wedding… Mary is Penny’s mom, who is my brother in law’s dog. We always wanted a dog like Mary, she’s the best. And when she got pregnant, we claimed the right to choose a pup from her first litter. After walking around the wedding location in the woods for three days, Mary had her littler only 4 days after the wedding. We chose Penny from the litter with no regrets. I was in love! We got what we hoped for, as Penny ended up the most-like-Mary out of both litters she had!
Penny is extremely loyal and attentive to me. We also ended up getting another dog, Jax The Last Straw, about six months after we got Penny. They grew up together, and we just couldn’t watch him go to someone else (he was another one of my brother in laws dogs, and he got to be too much for him to handle). I managed to train Jax, and he’s now a great dog. Penny & Jax are total buddies, but Penny is my dog. She’s the dog I dreamed of having, long before she came into our lives. And even though I trained Jax on my own, he’s totally my husband’s dog now.
It’s funny because we choose Penny to be OUR dog. Yet, Jax chooses us to be HIS family. Where Penny keeps us entertained and this smart dog keeps us on our toes, trust me. Jax is the handful that keeps us safe, and we wouldn’t trade for the world now. Funny how life with dogs leads to kids… I know ours did.
You’ll see her at my heels in almost every video of us on our channel. She never leaves my side. And she loves, loves, loves my baby…
Five Reasons That Having Dogs Before Kids Made Us Better Parents
1. Roles. Who does what
As a dog owner, there’s a number of things you have to do to take care of them. And much like having a baby, there’s a serious number of roles you must play on their behalf. Because they can’t survive without you.
Everything from feeding them twice a day, to bathing them at least once a week, making sure they have adequate time to play and run around. Let’s not forget socialization. Which is so important to both dogs and young kiddos.
By having dogs before kids, you get to figure out who does what to care for them. You get to practice with your partner how exactly you are going to rearrange your life to accomplish their needs everyday. Who takes the dog for a walk and who feeds them their meals? Who has the time to train them and practice discipline to have dogs who behave well?
2. Love. How to give it and share it
When we first got our dog Penny, as a puppy, I know that my husband was a bit anxious. In fact, he had another puppy in mind. But because of my attachment to the little black and white pup, he decided to let me have her! There was a bit of jealousy from my Scorpio man though. Good thing my happiness with the new dog overcame that pretty quickly by adjusting how we were sharing our love and attention. (And the bed…)
The point is, when you add in another little human or pet, there’s an adjustment to be had. How do you manage giving your attention to your husband when there’s something so cute right there too! Finding the balance takes effort and a change in habits. Dogs don’t cry and scream though, so the practice with them before a child, is a really good trial for you and your partner.
3. Discipline. Discussing when and how
I don’t believe you if you tell me your dogs don’t get I trouble.
I also don’t believe you when you tell me your kid NEVER EVER gets in trouble.
Even though training dogs is different than raising a child, you still have to decide how you are going to give appropriate discipline. Keeping in mind that different children may require different discipline because of personality, maybe your dog’s aren’t so different.
When Jax got in trouble as a puppy he was handled aggressively because, he was aggressive. Establishing dominance was a constant with this pup. Before he was given to us, he was a part of our lives also, but I had very different tactics. He was also more mature (a year) and had already learned his place with us humans. So I was able to give him a dog box, a place all his own. And practice heavy reward systems and much patience and repetition in training him.
Now when he gets in trouble, he runs to the box. He knows his place.
But Penny is a total push over and very submissive. It’s harder to scold her as she gives in so quickly, and usually never meant to do wrong in the first place. She values our love and respect and tries to be a good dog. (She’ll even guard my food and tell on Jax if he’s getting into something he shouldn’t. She’s that dog.)
Celebrating good behavior and giving praise together!
Which brings in another point. How you give praise and reward for good behavior as a team! It’s much more valuable to give praise and encouragement together, as it makes the reward so much greater. I think this also ties into the above point too, of how to balance giving and sharing love. With a dog, or with a baby.
You each learn to play a part in paying attention, so that when a good or bad behavior is recognized it can be addressed immediately (and correctly). If you’ve had practice living with dogs, then the partnership you have will be already strong. The trust to rely on each other will be so great that you need not worry about how they will respond when: You have a child too look after instead of your pet.
4. Sacrifice. How to organize your time and make plans
Because guys, there’s going to need to be a plan of action when you have dogs, or kids. Especially if you have both!
Going to do anything, will require teamwork and a game plan. Period. No more, “okay well let’s just go”. No. You gotta plan the shit out more than that if you have dogs or kids.
And dogs, you can leave at home after some good dog training. You can train your dog to stay at home comfortably with some effort. Although if your going to be gone for any length of time, you have to plan how they’re going to get exercise, water, food and love. Whether that’s a dog sitter, or you plan to take them along.
If your taking them with you, how your going to get them water and food, and how your going to handle them socially. And, this and that. And all the rest. Ya, point is, you gotta plan it out. Or at least have a system. But to have a system, you have to practice it a bit to know what works.
Having a kid is so similar. Except, you can’t ever leave the kid on their own. They have to be watched by another (responsible) adult! Or be with you. And there we go with practice again.
This whole time, you hopefully have a partner. Someone to help you make this plan of action happen smoothly. Figuring out who does what when, is so key to being good parents.
Sacraficing your time, energy and give a shit to something other than you and your partner, is important in parenting. Need I say more as you already know about this serious sacrifice, or you’ll find out when you have your own (kid, or dog).
5. Priorities. The importance of you, your marriage and others
To tie all these up I’ll talk about how you prioritize yourself, your marriage and your babies. Dog or human, when you have something other than yourself that you take care of, they are your everything.
I feel strongly that my husband and I, come first.
He’s my rock. My support system, my warmth and happiness, my life partner. And without him, much of what I do is not possible. He keeps me happy and motivated to get through life and all its trials. I wouldn’t want to do it alone. And if your reading this and don’t have a partner right now… Then I hope your looking for a partner that will become a team player with you. Because you can’t do all that you can do, when you have a team. Your only one person.
By arranging your priorities in life, you start to feel balanced and comfortable in your own skin. So figuring this out when you have dogs is easier because, they’re dogs. Of course your partner comes first. But with a baby, it’s more complicated. Especially as a mother, that baby needs you for every part of their existence. Figuring out how to get in time with your partner is rough.
When my husband and I first came home with our newborn, this was the hardest thing. Harder than feeding and sleeping. Finding time for us. And if we hadn’t had the dogs before having kids, I don’t think we would have been able to adjust as well as we have.
And I think it’s because of the communication between us. We are comfortable saying, “I miss you” and “I want more time with you”, as well as, “I need space” or “I need a break!”
If you’ve had dogs, then maybe you’ve had to say these things before.
But if you have kids, the you’ve DEFFINATELY said these things!
It’s pretty believable when I say my, “My dogs helped me be a better mom.” Because they really did! And still do.
Here’s why getting a puppy, when you have a baby is a bad idea…
One final point is, I’m glad I already have my dogs because we’ve established a bond and respect. The rules have been set for them, and they know how to act and behave. So helping the dogs adjust to the baby was easy. As long as I’m happy, I can keep them happy. Once they figure out that the baby makes me happy, then their happy with baby too! Yay!
Whereas, if you have a baby and then get a dog, you have to train the dog while managing a child.You can hope that the new dog does well with children but you don’t know, because you’ll have to create a bond with the dog that is respected first. You’ll have to also establish dominance.
Managing to balance your priorities like we talked about above becomes really complicated in that scenario too huh?
I feel like by the time my dogs are old and pass away, my child will be 7-8 years old and will be responsible enough to help train the new dog! Because getting a puppy with a toddler just sounds like a bad idea to me.
So if you are reading this because you know that you’ll want to have kids someday and you have a desire to do something new in your life. Maybe you guys get a dog. Work on building your relationship by getting a dog before you have kids. And honestly, I do feel like I’m a better parent by being a good dog owner.
But who knows maybe I’m off and having dogs before kids isn not right for you. What do you think? Comment below with your story!
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Did you have dogs before kids? Or is kids before dogs? Hold old were they? Please comment below!