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Bad Dog = Bad Parent?

puppyEvery few months something crops up on the Internet linking the way people care for their pets to their would-be parenting skills. Everyone runs with it. We parents fight it. The cycle continues.

So what makes this one different?

Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax isn’t talking about neglectful dog owners who aren’t fit to raise a poodle – never mind a person. She said this week that ” dog-rearing style is a deadly accurate predictor of child-rearing style.”

Specifically – people who don’t set limits for their dogs won’t set them for their kids. OK, fair enough Ms. Hax – it’s a sign of a permissive nature in an adult. A bit of a pushover even. People don’t change. A pushover is not suddenly going to become a strict disciplinarian.

That said, a dog is still a dog. Because they can’t talk (you know what I mean) or get up and get their own food out of the cabinet – or for that matter, understand why they SHOULDN’T eat the food out of the garbage can – most dog owners are willing to give them a mile where we’d otherwise give an inch. Yes, even dog owners with strict feeding schedules and a good grasp on discipline. Part of being a good dog owner is understanding the difference between dog and human.

If I had to be honest with myself, I give the dog more leeway than the child. Sure, she’s only four, but she’s also moved past four “legs” (crawling) and onto two. She’s beginning to grasp right from wrong and able to get her own cup of water from the fridge door. I’ve also gone past the stage of dog owner to parent – and that makes a major difference. Where there was time to discipline and work with a dog pre-kid, the canine has turned wildebeest thanks to a sort of benign neglect (she’s fed and watered by an adult and played with daily by the pre-schooler).

So pushovers don’t stand up straight suddenly. But stand-up people can be pushed over by parenting.

Image: jpctalbot via flickr

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