Parenting children is hard enough, but parenting a puppy? It turns out it’s pretty much exactly the same thing.
Right from the off, the similarities are uncanny. My parenting journey started off with me at 17 saying to my Mum : “Mum I need to tell you something.” And my puppy parenting journey started off with my 17 year old daughter saying to me : “Mum I’ve got to tell you something.”
Thankfully, I am not to be a Nana. Unless being a Nana to a puppy counts.
Parenting children Vs puppies
This little bundle of fluff came into my life just the same as my other bundles of joy. Completely unplanned.
Although at least with my arrivals I had some time to prepare, get my head around it and get the house ready. This didn’t happen with the pup. One day we had a cat and a kitten and the next, this little white thing arrived and turned the place upside down.
As far as 17 year old impulses go, deciding to get a puppy with your best friend isn’t the worst. But it would have been nice to have been forewarned that we were going to be sharing custody of a fluffy baby.
I’ve spent a couple of weeks now playing Nana, and it’s really made me realise how similar having a young child is to having a puppy. And not just for the opportunity to dress them up in cute outfits and take a million pictures. (I definitely don’t do that)
The 10 similarities
1. They cry a lot.
Babies and children cry about everything. For example they cry when they’re;
- over stimulated,
- need to be burped,
- want a cuddle,
- want to go out,
- don’t want to go out
- want to go in the car
- don’t want to go in the car
- want to go for a walk
- tired of walking
- want to be picked up
- want to be put down
You get the gist.
Puppies are the same! She cries for all these reasons, and she also cries when she can’t see us.
Mind you, she’s also absolutely ecstatic when she sees us again, so this more than makes up for it.
I’ve never had such an enthusiastic welcome back from the toilet before.
By the way, playing peekaboo with a young puppy gives you a much better reaction when you reappear from behind the couch than it does with a baby.
I hated this stage with actual babies. Particularly breastfeeding babies. There’s nothing quite like feeding a baby whilst you’re half asleep, who then decides to gnaw at your nipples with its brand new razor-sharp toothy peg.
Oh wait. There actually is. It’s a puppy getting its teeth, and deciding that your finger/toe/chin/nose/earlobe needs to be chewed immediately.
3. Toilet training
One of the better things about having a baby, is that when it’s not in control of its bladder and bowels, it can wear a nappy. This is not an option with a puppy.
Apart from the time Joe was 13 months old and had terrible diarrhoea in the very same week he learnt to take off his nappy and run, this bit of having a puppy is much worse.
Not only do you have to be constantly alert for the signs of crouching (or cocking legs if you’ve got a boy dog), but puppies will literally shit and piss on EVERYTHING they can get their bums near.
And then try to eat it.
This is beyond gross. I don’t really like running, but I really don’t like running towards dog poo. No matter how many times Emily sings “dog poo, dog poo, lots of lovely dog poo” á la Drop Dead Fred.
Basically, don’t leave anything on the floor that you don’t want desecrated.
4. Putting things in their mouths
Have you ever had to hook your finger into a child’s mouth and pull something out that shouldn’t have been in there? Like a piece of Lego or a button for example? Life with a puppy is the same. But on a much bigger scale.
This puppy puts everything in her mouth. From Playmobil to Christmas decorations to tampons to hair bands. Everything ends up in her gob. And then she thinks it’s a game when you try to pull it out again.
Apparently, the reason babies put things in their mouths is so they can learn about texture and possibly improve their immune system.
But I think the dog puts everything in her mouth because she’s a greedy wee bitch, and lives in eternal hope that everything is edible.
This is one of the better things about parenting a puppy. We have yet to offer this puppy something to eat that she has refused. She has never thrown a piece of broccoli back at me, unlike my children. And she has never accepted a spoon of something in her mouth just to spit it across the room in disgust.
Puppies will eat everything (see 2, 3 & 4), which makes weaning them an absolute doddle.
Weaning a child is much more difficult. You have to worry about them choking, worry about possible allergies, dodge flying vegetables, fight them off when you try to wave a baby wipe across their face and worry about providing an expansive menu to ensure they grow up with a wide palate.
Puppies don’t care about all that shit. Whatever you put in their bowl is hoovered within minutes. I’m not even sure they taste what they eat before it’s swallowed.
6. Helping around the house
Weirdly, both small children and puppies like to ‘help’ with housework. Emily used to love pulling things out of the washing machine faster than I could put things inside it. Ruby had a thing about polishing stuff and used to steal my cloth whenever I was trying to use it. Joe had a thing for the dustpan and would spend hours sweeping stuff into it, dropping it and then starting all over again. Jess didn’t really like helping, but would helpfully sit on the vacuum ( we had a Henry) whenever I tried to use it.
The puppy wants to do it all. When I try to sweep or mop the floors, she’s attached to the broom or mop, trying to drag it into her bed. If I’m sorting out washing, she jumps into the pile, selects something and then runs off with it. If I’m trying to clean any kind of surface, she thinks it’s a game and tries to rip the cloth out of my hand. Trying to hoover is a nightmare. She barks at it, pounces on it, gets in the way of it and runs in daft circles all around it.
So yeah, cleaning with kids or cleaning with puppies is basically a nightmare.
Have you ever been for a walk with a toddler? It takes FOREVER. They want to stop and look at everything. They stick their fingers in every little hole in a wall. And they want to jump in every puddle you walk past. They will often walk really slowly one minute and then try to run off the next. Or they might decide to make friends with every animal, bird or ant you walk past. If you’re really (un)lucky, your toddler will sit on the floor and cry because they do/don’t want to be carried. And there’s the very real danger that they suddenly want to sprint out into the road.
And it’s the same with dogs! A 10 minute walk to the shop can easily take 45 minutes now. Because the puppy wants to sniff everything. She wants to chase every leaf that moves. She wants to make friends with every person that walks past, and she wants to get inside every bush and puddle she sees. And she also wants to smell the bum of every dog we go past. (Or more accurately, every dog who goes past us because she’s been busy staring at a leaf for 29 years.)
She will also randomly sit down and cry to be picked up, and then suddenly bolt towards the road.
It’s stressful. It takes forever. But at least the puppy wants to go straight to bed when we get home… unlike a toddler.
Their toys make surprising noises that will have you shitting yourself when you accidentally step on one during the night.
Children’s toys are usually battery operated, so there is a real chance that brushing past something will set it off. Not so good when you’re doing your final pre-bedtime check of your sleeping child.
Dog toys squeak. And are just as dangerous as children’s toys when it comes to sleep disturbance. Accidentally stepping on something squeaky can have your dog going from comatose to hyper in about 0.003 seconds.
Neither babies or puppies are very good at sleeping. They often look fast asleep and you might think to yourself you can have a cheeky nap or enjoy a coffee in peace. But don’t be fooled. The slightest movement or sound can wake them up again.
The puppy will happily sleep next to someone, but the second you put her in her bed, she starts crying. Just like every child I’ve had! They were all happy to sleep on me, or next to me, but started crying the minute I moved them into their cot. Parenting puppies with little sleep is just as hard as parenting babies with little sleep.
And you know when the baby starts crying in the middle of the night and you have to change it’s nappy? The puppy will also cry and wake you up for a wee. But this requires more effort. Because you have to go downstairs, let it out and then stand there freezing your tits off whilst the dog sniffs everything before doing the smallest wee possible.
Kids and puppies both have incredible hearing. They can detect a sweet being unwrapped from 3 rooms away. And they both come running faster than you can swallow the evidence.
They also both have this incredible ability to sleep through the loudest noises, yet get woken up by their own farts.
Neither child or puppy enjoy loud noises like hairdryers or hoovers. Although one will cry and the other will bark. I’ll let you decide which is which. But weirdly their own loud noises don’t seem to bother them.
All in all, parenting babies and parenting puppies is really similar. There’s lots of stress, lots of poo, lots of crying, lots of chaos and lots of moments where you’re going to lose your mind.
But there is also lots of cuddles, snuggles, laughter and love.
So whether you’re parenting a baby or a puppy, best of luck! And get that coffee brewing.