Here are some of the things I learned about parenting from being a dog owner.
1. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This is also true for dogs. That’s why I think it’s almost always best to get a dog as a puppy. Before we had our Schnauzer, we had a Beagle. For the most part, Abbey the Beagle was a nice dog, but she was STARVING…ALWAYS. She would steal food from children, jump up on the table to scrounge for left overs, raid the trash. If enough food was available, she would eat until she vomited and continue eating. Abbey had a serious eating disorder.
Grendel the Schnauzer, on the other hand, will eat when she’s hungry. Her bowl of food might last her a couple of days. She doesn’t steal food and wouldn’t dream of jumping up on the table.
The difference? We got Abbey when she was two years old. Before she came to live with us, she lived with a big, presumably hungry, Labrador. She probably had to fight for her food and wolf it down whenever it showed up. Grendel has, as far as I know, never known hunger. Her bowl of food is rarely empty. When I see that it is, I fill it.
2. John 13:34 “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” If you want a nice dog, be nice to him. This is also true for children, spouses, and people on the street.
3. Ezekiel 2:6 “And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee…nor be dismayed at their looks.” Be the adult. Children and dogs are frightened and will misbehave if they think no one is in charge. People and dogs will be their most nasty when they’re afraid and feel threatened. (This is also true for spouses and probably most people.) So speak kindly, firmly and with confidence.
4. Ecclesiastes 10:18 “By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.” Mischief usually happens when there’s nothing else going on. So don’t leave your pet or your child hanging with nothing to do.
5. Exodus 23:12 “Thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.” No one is happy when they’re tired. No one. Not even dogs. Or children. Or moms. Or dads. No one. Make sure everyone has their own bed and make sure they use it. Occasionally, if the pets sleep outside, it’s okay if the dogs pile on top of each other for warmth, but that’s it. Dogs on dog’s beds, children in children’s beds, parents in their own bed.