Comparing your dog to children

“You don’t leave your child alone for hours, do you?”
‘A corrective tap! You don’t hit your children, do you?’
“It’s just a dog, not a baby”
‘Isn’t your child just sitting at the table with you?’
“If your child is afraid, don’t you support him or her?”

When children and dogs are compared, half of the people have their neck hairs on end. That’s impossible! For the other half, the reasoning is that this comparison is fine because for them their dog is just as much a full member of the family as a child. But what about really?

The differences between child and dog

First of all, they are of course 2 different animal species. Children understand spoken language from a certain age, so you can explain to them why certain behavior is and is not possible. With children, you can also tell in advance what consequences their actions will have. For example, ‘If you clean up your room today, you can go to Elza’s party tomorrow’.

With such a long time between behavior and consequence, this is not feasible for dogs to understand.

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Dogs can’t talk or think

Well, dogs can’t talk in human language, but they do talk in their own language. It’s just that most people don’t bother learning the dog language beyond simple phrases like “I have to pee” or “I’m hungry.”

Dogs can also learn fine behaviors where they make independent decisions depending on their environment. This includes the duties of assistance dogs and guide dogs. The idea that dogs can only learn simple tasks like sitting and lying down if we force them to do so may be relegated to the realm of fables.

dog is your child

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So are there any similarities?

Yes, they certainly are. Dogs are emotionally similar to children. The cognition of dogs is at the level of a 2-3 year old child. The learning principles are the same for all animal species, so you can also compare children and dogs when it comes to learning!

Dogs also go through the development into adulthood, with puberty in between. So yes, dogs and small children are not that different. Did you know that dogs can learn more than 200 words? And can even understand quantities and concepts like bigger/smaller, left/right?

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Your dog is your child?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. We are also ‘mom’ and ‘daddy’ to our dogs. Only we don’t mean that literally, but more lightly, as a joke. It is true that your role as owner for your dog also largely corresponds to that of a parent.

You have to ensure safety, it is your job to guide your dog and to learn what can and cannot be done. You provide your dog with food, attention and a safe place to stay. You are responsible for the education and if you don’t (or if you don’t do it right)…then you can’t blame your dog for his behavior.

see a dog as a child

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What are the disadvantages of treating your dog as a child?

Dogs have different needs than children. Dogs like to hunt and sniff. Dogs want to run in the rain and roll in rotten fish. If you take your dog outside in a stroller in a romper and hat…if you expect your dog to act like a kid….you may be disappointed when your dog doesn’t live up to your expectations expectations of ‘sweet furry baby’.

Your dog will definitely be disappointed if he can’t use his innate instincts. That frustration is the root of many behavioral problems.

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You don’t leave your child alone for hours, do you?

No that is right. And some dogs shouldn’t be left alone for hours. This is possible with other dogs. This has not so much to do with your dog being the same or different from a child, but with the fact that each dog is an individual.

While one dog is no problem chilling out when the boss is at work, another dog already panics when you go to the toilet. It is therefore important not to make a problem of something if there is no problem, but to take responsibility if there is a problem. You can’t just leave a dog with separation anxiety alone.

raising a child and a dog

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You don’t let your child sleep outside, do you?

No, and also applies here; some dogs don’t. But dogs that have been bred for the outdoors and clearly prefer it, can actually sleep outside. Letting your mountain dog sleep outside in the yard at 5 degrees is heavenly for him, while for him lying in your bedroom at 20 degrees without an overview of his terrain can be a form of mental abuse. Here too you have to look at the individual.

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You don’t hit/kick your child, do you?

In this case, the comparison holds. Children and dogs both experience the pain and fear. It is actually not so long ago that it was thought that small children and animals could not experience that, actually unimaginable…

This list should also include other pain stimuli and punishments, such as a power band and a line high behind the ears to make your dog walk meekly with you. A leash that you attach to your dog should actually serve the same function as holding your small child by the hand for safety.

Of course, both your dog and your child may learn what ‘No’ means, both creatures need boundaries. But in either case, there is no need for physical punishment!

dog part of family

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You’re not getting rid of your child, are you?

This argument is often made when people rehome their dogs. Rehoming a child is of course something less common than rehoming a dog, but it does happen. A child may be removed from the home if the parents are unable to care for the child.

With dogs, the owner must actually come up with the idea that it will not work. Only in the case of very serious neglect, certain authorities do something about it. And yes, there are owners who get rid of their dog because he makes too much mess, keeps barking and doesn’t listen … actually that’s good, because if you as a boss don’t want to make any effort for your dog, this dog is better off with another boss.

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Part of the family

A dog deserves its place as a full member of the family, but with respect for your dog as a dog and as an individual. So give your watchdog a job as a guard, which you would not do with a child. Go hunting with your hunting dog, though you wouldn’t let your child fetch a duck from the field.

Give your dog exercise, let him sniff odors from other dogs, even though your child is not allowed to stick his nose in the toilet bowl. Let your dog be a dog, without dresses, hats, prams (with the exception of a buggy for your pups or senior dog if you go for a really long walk) and expectations of good table manners, shake hands with everyone and speak with two words.

family dog



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