Before you all rally with your torches and pitchforks, I’m not denigrating the parental experience. I’m not saying raising a puppy is ACTUALLY harder than raising a human being, and I’m not saying you’re less of a person/mother/father/parent/guardian than a pet owner. Get off your high horse (if you haven’t already), relax, and just TRY to find the humor in this. I have a 5 year old, so I know what parenting entails. If you can’t suspend your sense of righteous indignation to just enjoy this and have a laugh, I really have no idea why you’re here.
Since moving to the boonies into a great big house with quite a small family, I’ve had a bit of an itch. Ironic, since most furry-pet-type-friends make me literally itch because allergies. Nonetheless, I’ve wanted a dog, and a big one at that. I figured that the best time to get a bigger dog would be early so we can train and shape her behaviors from the outset, rather than having to break old habits, so we adopted a shepherd-mix puppy from a local family.
I. Had no idea. What I was in for. When we got her, she was a mess. I found ticks on her, she had ear mites, her paws were dry and cracked (which was how I discovered the tick problem in the first place). I have never felt so grossed out in my life, you guys. But then as we got her cleaned up and settled into a routine, I realized just how hard puppies are – frankly, it’s been harder to adjust to her than I think it was to Bug when I first brought him home.
Before you pearl-clutchers get your hackles up, just think about it. Infants are gorgeous squishy lumps that sleep most of the time. They smell like heaven come to Earth, their bodily functions are mostly confined to diapers, and while their sleep schedules suck, they cuddle and generally make up for the difficulties of infancy with being adorable. Yeah, it’s hard, but it’s a gentler transition into parenthood than getting a puppy. You don’t get to ease into puppy-parenthood, no. You bring home a puppy, you’re basically starting with the worst parts of parenthood without any kind of prep-time.
1. Puppies can already run.
Man. Remember how exciting it was when your baby first started wobbling around on those chubby little legs? The thrill and terror of mobility was upon you, and you realized that you actually had to babyproof in earnest now (yeah, I see you). It was joyful, momentous. You’d been working up to this for so long and it was finally here!
Now imagine bringing your baby home and skipping this milestone outright. If you get a puppy who’s old enough to have been weaned, your puppy is able to bolt when you try to give her a bath, put on her leash, or pull a bramble out of her nostril because she decided to lay down in dry, dead weeds (yes, this actually happened about a week after we brought her home). And she will. Ohhhhh she will.
2. Potty training.
See, with babies, you get time to work up to potty training. You learn to communicate, you learn to walk, you build affection, a bond, trust. With puppies, you’re thrust RIGHT into potty training, arguably the worst part of parenthood, with basically NO foundational relationship or understanding of each other.
With puppies, you don’t even have the luxury of diapers to contain the messes – they just go. While this problem solves itself pretty quickly with proper training (I can’t recommend crating enough) and a schedule, potty training is still the worst. And accidents still happen. If you’re lucky, your dog won’t try to eat their own poop, but Jibbers help you if yours does.
Teething, I believe, is harder for babies than it is for us. They experience the pain, they cry, and their means of communications are insufficient to explain their needs. Sure, they may keep us up at night, and it is hard for us to see our babies in pain, we might get the rogue finger bite, but for the most part, that’s the extent of our suffering.
Puppies share the misery of teething, nay they FORCE it on us. They chew and gnaw habitually, and the toys are never good enough, no. Nothing on the floor is safe. Nothing that protrudes is safe. LOOSE FITTING CLOTHES AREN’T EVEN SAFE. You know how babies grab at hair or loose objects? Yeah, puppies do too. With their mouths. On the upside, this goes away with time. In the meantime, I hope you don’t care about your couch. Or any drawer pulls. Or the baseboards.
And of course, this is also how they play. They’ve played with their brothers and sisters by nipping at each other, so of the few habits you’ll have to break, this is the one that will plague you. HAVE FUN!
4. You can’t go far, and you still have to wake in the middle of the night.
I read somewhere that the number of hours a puppy can hold her business is about equal to that of her age, so a 2.5 month old puppy can hold it for 2.5 hours before an accident happens, and that’s IF she held it at all. Crating helps because she’ll want to hold it and not soil her sleep space, but that also means you can’t stay out long.
On top of that, you have to wake up a couple times a night to prevent accidents, at least until you have your routine all down pat.
5. DAT SASS.
Babies and puppies do have noisiness in common, and really, you can’t fault them for it – it’s their only means of communication. But puppies, like 2 year olds who’ve just discovered “no,” have ATTITUDE. Like they go straight to testing their autonomy, whereas toddlers at least work their way up to it through the preschool years.
And of course, the moment you want to show off those impressive fetch-drop-sit-stay skills, your puppy will inevitably remember nothing. Or perhaps she does remember and also remembers the humiliation of allowing the vet to stick a thermometer up her anus, so she wants to embarrass you. But that may be giving her far too much credit. Somehow, I don’t think I am.
Now I will admit this – Bug was a really easy baby. He (mercifully?) saved the hard parts for years 3 through now, so I know that this isn’t necessarily universal. But come on, it kind of is.
So, human+pet parents, was it harder for you to adjust to bringing home a puppy or a baby? Tell me in the comments!