I’m the “mother” of three darling terriers, Bella, Scuppers, and Sable, and let me tell you, some days they can be a real handful! My morning routine involves getting them all outside for potty time, keeping the food bowls separated, and intervening in squabbles. It takes a lot of time and attention on my part, and not a day goes by when I don’t think about how much more challenging it would be to parent a child. Below are a few ways in which raising dogs is easier than raising children.
1. Potty training takes several weeks rather than several years.
Most puppies can be “housebroken” in a few weeks if their owner is consistent and knowledgeable. Children need their diapers changed for the first couple years at least. According to Babycenter, an average baby three to six months old requires 10-12 changes a day, for a grand total of 4015 diapers a year! And it doesn’t stop there: By the age of six, 10% of children are still occasional bed-wetters. I was able to get my pups fully house trained in six months!
2. Dogs are always happy to see you
Even if I’ve gone for just a quick trip to the store,it’s amazing how my dogs are always elated when I get back. They greet me at the door with barks, jumps, and sometimes yelps of delight. How often does the parent of a teenager come home to a surly, silent youth who’d rather be left alone?
3. You never have to worry about where they are when midnight rolls around on Friday.
My dogs stay indoors all the time except when I take them out, so I never worry that they’re getting into trouble—or worse. Children are often away from their parents, and all of us who were once teenagers know that’s cause for concern!
4. You can let them sleep in your bedroom without worrying that they’ll be permanently scarred.
My dogs are spoiled rotten! They have their own beds that are just around the corner from my own, and I tuck them in every night. Then, when it’s almost time to get up in the morning, they enjoy jumping into our bed for a snuggle with my husband and me. In the United States, it’s not considered good parenting in most circles to have children in their parent’s bedroom for too long, and bringing them into the bed is even more frowned upon. I would hate to have to give up that special family time with my pups.
5. You can cut their hair anyway you want.
Once kids reach a certain age, they tend to have strong opinions about how they want their hair styled, not to mention other pivotal fashion decisions, which can lead to arguments with their parents. I’ve never met a dog who resisted even the most ridiculous hair style or outfit chosen by its owner. My dog Bella is a Manchester terrier, so her hair is short. She chills easily and she’s never given me any grief about the silly red plaid sweater I put on her every winter.
6. Dogs don’t have children and then leave them with you to be raised -- and you get to decide if they breed at all.
These days it’s not uncommon to see grandparents busy rearing their children’s children. Just imagine: You’ve finally started relaxing into your empty nest only to have your grown child call on you to help raise her child as well! Most dog owners take steps to ensure that our dogs don’t have unwanted pups, and even if they do, it wouldn’t permanently alter our lives. After all, you can just give those cute pups away after eight weeks!
7. You don’t have to be a positive role model.
Sometimes dinnertime conversation around our home is PG-13 (or worse), and it’s sure nice to know that our dogs are not being negatively influenced by our adult banter. We don’t have to chat with Bella, Sable, or Scuppers about how their day went or spend dinnertime inquiring about upcoming school assignments. Instead my husband and I can catch up and make plans for the weekend. We can also choose foods that we like that might not necessarily be good for kids. Plus, we don’t have to demonstrate great table manners for a child who is learning how to relate in the world. Sometimes the chocolate cream pie is so wonderful, I simply have to lick the plate!
8. They don’t have to be watched 24/7.
I’ve heard of parents having Child Protective Services called on them for leaving their kid in the car for a few minutes while they dashed into a store. Being the proud mother of three dogs, I’m extremely protective and constantly on watch to ensure their safety, but I often bring the dogs along for the ride and then leave them in the car while I go in to shop—and I’ve never been scolded for doing so. I live in a constantly cool part of the country and so the problem of heat in vehicles isn’t a concern most of the year. And if it’s too warm or too cold, I simply leave them at home.
9. They don’t ask to borrow the car.
In general, rearing pets is much, much less costly than raising kids, and driving is just one reason why. When kids begin to drive, vehicle insurance rates may double for the household. And then there’s the cost of buying a car for that teenager so that yours is there when you need it -- and in the same condition you left it.
Many parents would proclaim that a child is well worth any amount of sacrifice, and some would argue that comparing the bond between a mother and child to that between an owner and her dog is silly. Still, many pet owners, myself included, find great comfort and joy with their furrier loved ones. But there’s no need for a contest. After all, love is love, wherever you may find it.