Pets and Toddlers Speak the Same Language

Behavior and Training  •  Pam Karkow  •  Thursday, May 14, 2020

If you’ve ever had a puppy, you know it is much like having a baby.  When the idea for this post popped into my head, my mind went crazy with all the similarities between my dog and my three-year old.  Then my Parents magazine published an article about how similar cats and toddlers are, and I knew I had a story in the making.

Toddlers and Puppies/Kittens…

  • Potty training.  Being in the thick of this with my own toddler, I can say that it is equally challenging to train a human baby and a fur baby.  

  • Crating and cribbing.  Really there is no difference.  We lock them in there and pray they sleep through the night.

  • Crying at night.  We hear a whine from their crate/crib, and we’re there to comfort and to soothe or rock them back to sleep.

  • Taking up the whole bed.  And I mean the.whole.bed.  When the rocking doesn’t work, we let them crash with us.  How can they be so little, yet spread out so much?

  • Picky eating.  As soon as we’ve decided something is their favorite food, they won’t have anything to do with it ever again.

  • Playing with anything but their toys. Just give them the box it came in and your puppy/kitten/toddler will be happy.

Children and Dogs/Cats…

  • Attention seeking.  Just as they did when they were puppies/kittens/toddlers, they continue to need attention as they age.  In fact, I just snuck upstairs to finish this post so I could get away from my attention seeking 15-year old pooch who keeps asking to be let outside.  Maybe her ears were burning?

  • Fear of missing something.  If we need to run upstairs, rest assured they’ll be on our heels to see what we’re up to.  And if we, by chance, want to go to the bathroom alone?  They’re not having it.  We’ll spy their little hands or paws peeking underneath the door.

  • Blaming others.  Even when caught in the act, children and dog/cats can still give that “who me?” look and blame it on their sibling.

  • Being cuddle bugs.  They love a good snuggle...when they’re in the mood.

  • Melting our hearts.  No matter how naughty they have been, when they curl up in our arms, we forgive and forget.

How can we use this knowledge to be better pet parents?

  • Be understanding when your pet has an accident, just as you would be to a small child who is learning to use the bathroom.  Shaming your pet has no benefit.

  • Experiment with different meal and treat options (with your vet’s approval).  Your toddler/child would be bored to tears with the same meal day in and day out, and so will your pet.

  • Invest in their health. Just like you protect your child with health insurance, enroll your pet in a pet insurance policy to ensure you can afford the best veterinary care!

  • Give lots of cuddles and snuggles.  When your pet feels loved, he/she will be less likely to act out in an attempt to gain your attention.  See our posts, Are You a Pawsome Pet Parent? and Love Your Pet Day, for more ways to give your pet the love he deserves, and to see how it will benefit you as well!

And the next time your child wants to curl up in your arms?  Invite them in willingly.  As the parent of a toddler and a pre-teen, I can assure you, there will come a time when they are too cool for school.  On the flipside, our cats and dogs will never be embarrassed when we snuggle them, no matter how old they are.  Give those cuddles out freely!

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