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How Parenting Prepared Me for Raising a Puppy

How parenting prepared me for raising a puppy.

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Taking on a puppy, a puppy who has the tall order of growing up to be a service dog has been an incredibly work-heavy task. Anyone who owns a puppy would agree that they are time-consuming and energetic. Add to the that the pressure of needing him to be “perfect” or nearly perfect to be a service dog? Yeah, I’ve got this, no problem.

I have found some remarkable similarities between raising kids and raising a puppy. In fact, the biggest difference seems to be that I didn’t leash my kids or use food as a reward. The rest? It’s been pretty spot on.

Things Raising Kids Has Taught Me About Raising a Puppy.

1. Keep them on a short leash.

Raising a puppy is shockingly similar to raising children.

Oh. My. Goodness. I don’t know how any can survive or live with a  puppy who has full reign of the house. Left to his own devices, Frodo grabs and eats sticks of butter off the counter, chews on everything and poops in surprising places.

Just like my kids.

The crate? It is a lifesaver. I wouldn’t have a puppy without one. And when he’s not in his crate? You got it, he’s on a short leash so we can teach him appropriate behavior.

Frodo the future service dog is a labradoodle who will be trained to assist my son with FASD.

2. Be consistent.

This is the part that is exhausting. Making sure Frodo follows the rules even when I’m busy, tired and just plain done for the day. Frodo doesn’t know what it is to be up at night with a sick kid or worry about paying the bills. Good day or bad day, he needs the rules to be fair and consistent. 

3. Consult a Professional

Frodo and I had our first meeting with Brittany from Brittany’s Mobile Pet Services and boy what a difference it made. Our hour together was packed full of learning for both Frodo and myself. And now I’ve got a whole lot of homework to do.  Babies? I’ve raised lots of them. Puppies? They are a whole new game. 

Just like I used to pour over parenting books I am now in the thick of The Art of Raising a Puppy by the monks of New Skete. I read this book as a teen as I dreamed of owning a dog. I still remember parts of it…like how the monks took their dogs with them everywhere and had them lay at their feet during meals…and now it’s time to relearn all of that stuff.

I’ve also found myself asking Adalia for advice since she and BEN! have had a dog for well over a year.

4. Boundaries Are Important

We don’t let Frodo in the kitchen; ever. This has been the rule from day one. Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually stop him from grabbing butter off the counter when we’re not looking.  Keeping him out of kitchen demands discipline and consistency on our part.  (re: Rule #2)

Raising puppies is a lot like raising kids.

5. Puppies Can Be Embarrassing. 

I took Frodo into PetsMart yesterday. Alone. I needed to get him a harness and wanted him to try it on. Kalina was with me but we ended up have an emergency (we were out of cream for our coffee) so she walked to a nearby store while Frodo and I went harness shopping. It was then that Frodo decided it was the perfect time to test out his voice and bark. And bark. And bark.

And then he barked.

And I made an interesting observation. People are more forgiving of a puppy’s “bad” behavior than a child’s. I’m not sure why that it.

So yes, raising a puppy is uncannily similar to raising children…have you ever raised a puppy? Share your favorite resources, I’m ready to learn!



  1. Jessica

    I’ve raised two puppies in the last 3 years, because just like babies, I don’t seem to remember how hard it is!
    My first one was a dream. He was easy and sweet and quick to learn and so cute(he would “attack” dried leaves that were as big as him and carry them proudly to us).
    Then we got a mini schnauzer and she is a mess. No amount of training and consistency helps. She would be the equivalent of a “strong willed” child. She is honey badger. She just does what she wants. And chews! Omg she she chews. No amount of exercise and toys curbs it.
    She’s starting to calm down now at over 1 but every time I think we’ve finally got a handle on her she reverts and steals and eats something. She’s like a hammerhead shark, she eats everything. She probably has a license plate in her stomach.
    But, we carry on, just like with our more trying children. They will one day grow to be the dogs we know they can be.

  2. Nichole

    I was an idiot and got three puppies in three years, the first being a total nightmare so I’m not sure what I was thinking getting two more… Here’s hoping they all choose their deaths years apart so I’m not left a mess if they all decide to pass away within months of each other.

    Your findings are spot on. I don’t have any resources to share as all mine come from different trainers I’ve worked with over the years for issues that crop up now and then. I never had time to read training books, although I really should have. The only thing I would add is that everyone in the family be on the same page as you with training. Things tend to go much more smoothly if the pup is hearing the same commands from everybody all the time and not just from one or two.

    Be aware that around a year old he may go through a stage of “forgetting” the commands and rules he’s learned. Just be consistent with everything he already knows. Maybe do a refresher course in a puppy class. They get over their forgetfulness fairly quickly.

    I cried myself to sleep every night for a solid year after I got my first pup. My trainers had never seen a pup with so much energy even after hours of exercise each day (that’s all I did in my non-work time, exercise the dog, literally). Every single person in my life except my trainer told me to rehome him. I wouldn’t. On his 8-month birthday, my trainer told me he should mellow out around 3 years old. I almost lost hope. Kept at it though and sure enough, he did mellow out right around 3. Now everybody I meet asks me if I’m selling him as they’d love to have him, his personality, his obedience, etc. Ummm, no.

    I took multiple training classes for all three dogs and learned something new each time. And just like kids, certain training methods may not work. What worked with my lab mix and yorkie mix, my Dalmatian laughed at. I had to get super creative with him. While I’m not a fan of negative training tools or methods, the ONLY thing that worked to keep him off kitchen counters was a device called a ScatMat. And boy does he stay off the counters now. I didn’t even have to have it turned on toward the end of training and now only get it out if I’ve got company over who aren’t familiar with the house rule of putting all food away immediately.

    If he’s too smart for his own good, have the kids learn some brain games with treats for the dog. A treat under a cup and nothing under two other cups, move them around, and the dog has to pick the right cup. I never did use treats though, just a piece of their dog food. It’s smaller than treats and fewer calories so less chance of them gaining too much weight with lots of training and lots of treats.

    You seem to be on the right track though. Good luck!

  3. Anna

    After what I’ve gone through with the dogs that my husband has brought home, you don’t want to know what I think about puppies and dogs. Only that if one of these dogs kicks the bucket anytime soon you won’t catch me crying at their funeral. And none of them will be replaced until I am sleeping through the night and I have a proper kennel to keep them in. These idiot dogs of his won’t even let us pet our sweet cat that we got from you all those years ago. Keep up the good work! A well trained dog is worth all the work.

  4. Sunny

    I had dogs first before mid and was struck by the similarity. (come, sit, stay haaa). Now I have a cat. Very different nature for sure!

    Love the new skete book. Also watched tons of videos by the dog whisperer. He is amazing. Enjoy 🙂

  5. Tracy

    We did read a book before getting Sigmund. Figured if we are getting a dog big enough to eat our children we should do our best to be sure that doesn’t happen. 😉 Ruff Love. It has a lot of good stuff. We follow a lot of what it talks about! 🙂 it’s a quick read too!! 🙂

  6. Peg

    A few years ago we were fostering an old very mellow cat. The first few months she was here, every time she sat on my lap, the dog would sneak up, grab her by the ear and before I could stop her, pull the cat to the floor. Talk about jealously.

  7. bemis

    We got a dog before kids. And my all-time favorite bit of advice was, “If your puppy misbehaves, take a rolled up newspaper and whack yourself three times on the head, saying, ‘I will pay more attention to my puppy, I will pay more attention to my puppy, I will pay more attention to my puppy…'” I can’t remember which book it was in. Maybe New Skete. So true with puppies and kids, I’ve found…

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