Why Every Couple Needs a Dog Before Having a Child


Sarabeth and I have had a dog for four out of the five years of our marriage. Obviously, we’re still waiting on word from the state that we’re approved to foster a child, but nothing has been more beneficial in preparing us for having kids than raising our dachshunds.

For instance, before I got married, I always thought I’d be this nice, loving husband who would be more than happy to wake up in the middle of the night to care for a crying baby. Because, when you’re young and single, it’s easier to get out of bed (because usually it’s for yourself). But I’ve learned that it takes discipline, and a sort of strength and selflessness to peel out of bed and take the whinnying dog out, who may or may not actually potty.

I always thought, before I got married, that I’d be more than happy to change diapers and do so with a happy and joyful heart. Things are much easier when just imagined. There have been several occasions where we have just settled down for a nice dinner, or just started a highly-anticipated movie, and… “Do you smell that? … Where’s Pixie?” I still don’t know what takes longer: cleaning up the mess or dragging her out from under the couch.

There are plenty of other examples I could give as to why it’s beneficial for couples to own a dog before having a child. If our premarital counselor had suggested we get a dog, I would have considered that the best advice he gave us. I never knew how cross, curt, or impatient I could be toward my dogs or my wife… and over stupid things. But you know what? I never would have anticipated having a child as much as I do now because of the adventure our dogs have taken us on. I can imagine a child will be much more difficult, but more rewarding as well.

Share some of your thoughts and ideas about why couples should (or shouldn’t) own pets before having a kid.

Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

31 thoughts on “Why Every Couple Needs a Dog Before Having a Child

  1. I definitely agree. My boyfriend and I are living together raising a German Shepherd/Terrier puppy. There is almost nothing that will try your patience and will like trying to potty train a puppy indoors.


  2. Cute post – but having had a dog and then having had a child, I can honestly say that in no way did that help at all! That before children it sure seems like a good idea and would teach responsibility and help you transition, but uh, yeah… No. LOL.


  3. Having a dog doesn’t exactly get one ready for having a child – it’s more akin to having training wheels on your bike before jumping onto a motorcycle – but it’s certainly a start.

    (Adorable doggy pic, by the way! I love Dachshunds!)


  4. the further we live beyond the age of reason, the more difficult it is to be truly selfless. A dog can help us learn attentiveness, for sure, and can offer a glimpse of increased responsibility. Just as only a servant of God can know the joy of obedience, only a parent can fully understand the meaning of selflessness (real love) – I don’t think there is anything beyond His Word that can fully prepare you. With His blessing you’ll learn soon, and what an adventure you’ll have! 🙂 Your furry friends are precious! Peace ~Scott


  5. Having had a child and NOW having a puppy… the idea is good but reality is the other way around in my experience. I’ve had puppies before and grown them into beautiful protective adult dogs. My boyfriend hasn’t had a puppy ever (or a child for that matter). Always had an adult dog which is different than having to deal with all the puppy stuff. I was better able to explain to him the puppy issues and behavior and relate that to caring for a child, it made the comparisons more ‘real’ for him and gave him patience. Although the whole responsibility and need for care is important part of going into parenthood, being responsive at another living beings cries for help or need for attention are all good reason for raising a puppy first, all that sorta comes naturally when it comes to an infant you are bringing into the world. Oh well, I think I am seeing both sides of the idea have good points of purpose. The love I feel for and from my (now huge) puppy is pretty awesome energy to have infused on a daily basis.


  6. Not having children myself and being single, but desperately wanting to care for something, I got my first dog last year. I’ve always been a cat person, but cats don’t need you. Daisy has certainly changed my life–I can’t even be sick any more because she still needs to be fed and walked and loved. I have learned to think about proportional responses.


  7. I will say that having three dogs as a “single mom” HAS taught me about having children…that they are probably going to be a long-time coming! 😉 I love my dogs and they are well taken care of, (and spoiled with attention on top of that!), but after having to deal with their messes, their illnesses, AND taking a couple of very frightening trips down into the dark basement at night because they thought something was down there–like the monster in the closet–I’ve decided that they are ENOUGH right now!


  8. Sweet and beautiful pups. I think the puppy to child transition is huge, but still a great dose of reality before parenthood. Just keeping track of the puppy and making sure he/she gets enough exercise and attention are big concerns. Then there are dilemmas of what you do with it while you’re at work, and who will watch it so you can get away for a weekend. Now multiply that by about a million and you’re starting to get a taste of parenthood!


  9. Your dogs are absolutely adorable! I just got married 2 months ago tomorrow but I’ve been with Ian for 4 years; 3 of which we lived together. When I moved in with him we took my lab with me and I don’t think Ian had any clue as too how much work she really was haha. I was very fortunate though because he was absolutely amazing. Getting up in the middle of the night to bring her out even though she was terrified of the dark so she’d never go :p haha. When we got back form our honeymoon we learned she had passed 😦 I had had her for since I was a little girl. She was old but it was pretty sudden. Having had some time to grieve me and Ian are ready to start trying for a baby now! Lets hope having a dog really does help prepare at least a little! haha
    Love your blog!


  10. It’s amazing that people keep signing up for such hard work. It is a blessing that new parents have no clue what they are getting into! All the books, films, etc., that you can study will give you information, but will not prepare you for the intense feelings and love. The only thing more powerful than that is having a grandchild.
    Good luck and God bless you!


  11. I agree with your title, but for different reasons (although in writing them out – they do tie in with yours!). When my husband and I met we each had a dog, got married, had 2 kids, and now another dog (who found us!). I’m a dog-person, dog-advocate, and I tend to always look at things from the dog’s perspective. Without kids, you can invest time in training, attention, and making room for said dog in your life. When we venture out with a dog (or 2 or 3) and our kids we get a lot of compliments on how well-behaved they are – how? We had them before kids! Now our new puppy is a different story – but he’s fallen in line with our other two and hasn’t been too bad to train having 2 good examples around. But I see/hear about so many families who have the kids and think next step is a dog and they don’t have the time or energy to invest in the dog and it ends up either having bad behavior/manners or worst of all ends up at a shelter 😦

    Now having been on both sides, kids and dogs and quite different, but the basics of having someone else completely dependent on you and not being on “your schedule” are quite apparent. I will say that you reap the benefits of caring for a dog much sooner (they’re always happy to see you), while in kids it takes much longer of selfless giving, but the rewards from raising kids is like none other and your heart will be expanded beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed!

    Enough for now – been stalking your blog for awhile and really enjoy it!


  12. I think it is a good idea, my husband and I owned our first puppy, we bought together and then we brought home his dog he had had since a puppy and I think we learned a lot about each other. He didn’t like our puppy, and I still do not know why to this day, and treated the two dogs different. I cannot say I was much better, after I saw the difference in his treatment I followed suit but vise versa. I also learned if I do not like how he is disciplining our dog that I need to say something and not just stand back. Now we are expecting and I have already put my foot down on quite a bit of things and I think our communication is exactly where it needs to be to raise this child.


    1. That’s great! Sarabeth and I have had to have many discussions (and still do) about discipline. And the definition of “yelling” often comes up as we each have a different idea of what that really is, and is it ever appropriate. These conversations usually translate into “When we have kids…” so they’re very beneficial.


  13. I completely agree. I’ve learned so much about myself! When our dog did something wrong and i got so angry, i was so shocked at myself. I’ve really learned to be angry and let it out in a good way and then discipline out of love and correction and not anger. It’s a lesson I’m glad i was able to learn before children although i am sure my resolved will be tested!


  14. Dogs can teach us a lot of good lessons about life, but one thing I liked about my dogs is that I could confide my complaints and problems with them and they always lend a listening ear, never critical, always faithful friends. They never wise mouth you as a teenager will. Thanks for the Follow.


  15. I have four kids and I don’t think I changed a single diaper nor did I get up with them at night other than to wake my wife to tell her the baby is crying. Our kids were sleeping through the night by the time they hit 8 weeks, so it’s not like my wife was getting up with them for months on end. Still, we’re talking about things that are better suited for mothers. Fathers have a different role to play in their kids life, including providing for them both spiritually and physically. God gave women breasts to feed babies at night and he gave men a rod to use wisely against wayward children.

    I often joked that I’m an attachment parent to my dog because my dog has no future. I love my kids too much to parent them in that manner because they have a future beyond my home. The dog’s future is likely execution at the vet’s when they get too old to go on. No matter how much responsibility you imagine you have with a dog, children are a completely different manner. Kids require more than being cleaned up after and they must be taught much more than three or four basic commands.


  16. I have a huge animal family as well as raised two boys to adulthood. Kids and animals go hand in hand, the child learns how to care for and protect things that are helpless. And well you learn a whole heck of a lot of patience with both. As things happen at the most unexpected times and places.


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