Getting a new dog and having a baby are both life-changing milestones that come with a lot of responsibilities. In general, babies are more work than getting a new pet (and a bigger commitment). But since they share similarities, many people see getting a dog as a good stepping-stone in preparing for parenthood.
At the very least, you don’t want to be dealing with a new dog and a new baby at the same time. So, it’s best to do one before the other – and getting the dog first may be a smarter move. Here’s why.
Prepares You For Responsibilities
Having a dog can help you determine if you’re ready for the responsibility of caring for someone else. Dogs come with a lot of needs to be met, like daily feedings, exercising, grooming, and affection. Caring for a dog can teach people of all ages the importance of obligations and consistency. It can also show the rewards that come with managing responsibilities.
A baby is going to be a lot more work than having a dog. But if you can meet your dog’s needs, then it’s a good sign that you can handle the transition to parenthood.
Helps You Get Used To A Schedule
It’s not enough to just handle your responsibilities – you need to do so consistently, whether you’re caring for a dog or a tiny human.
If you’re not used to a lot of structure in your life, a dog can help you transition into a regular routine. You’ll need to feed your pup at the same time each day, care for its bathroom and hygiene needs, and spend time giving the dog attention, which are all things you’ll have to do with a newborn.
It Can Improve Your Relationship
Parenting is teamwork, and so is pet ownership. Getting a dog before a baby is a good way to see how you and your partner co-parent and work together (even if your baby for the time being is a dog). It can help you identify areas that may need improvement, so you can address them before adding a baby to the mix, while also helping you sharpen important skills, like communication.
Research has actually found that people who get dogs have happier relationships. One study conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo found that couples with cats or dogs tend to be happier. Specifically, they had a lower starting baseline systolic blood pressure, which rose less in response to stressful situations versus couples without pets.
Dog Can Be Trained Before Baby Arrives
Training dogs are a lot of work. Puppies can require around-the-clock monitoring depending on how rambunctious and adaptable they are. If you’re certain you want to add a dog to your family soon, it’s better to get it out of the way when you don’t have kids. It’ll help ensure you’re not stretched too thin and that your dog gets the attention it needs to learn good behavior.
It takes a lot of time and dedication to training a dog, so be sure you’re ready to commit. That way, you can have a well-trained dog before the baby arrives, so you can focus the majority of your attention on the newborn rather than your dog. You may want to consider waiting until the dog is out of puppyhood before adding a baby to the mix, as your pooch is likely to be calmer and more well-behaved with age.
Dogs Create A Healthier Environment
It’s true that there is more mess with having a family dog, but research shows it can also make your home a healthier environment for babies. One study found by researchers at Finland’s Kuopio University Hospital found that babies born to homes with dogs had fewer colds and ear infections in their first year of life than those without. They also required fewer antibiotics to treat illnesses.
It’s unclear why dogs provide a healthier environment than other pets, like cats. But the researchers theorized it may have to do with the dirt brought inside by dogs. Either way, adding a dog to your home can make it a healthier place once the baby arrives.
Can Protect Baby From Allergies, Obesity
Finally, another reason to already have a dog in the household when the baby arrives is that it can help protect your infant’s health in the long term. For example, research has found that infants in homes with dogs have fewer allergies. Similarly, it can also help protect babies from obesity later in life.
Remember, even if you’re set on getting a dog, there’s a lot of thought that needs to go into what breed will work best for your family. Certain types of dogs are better with kids than others, while different breeds can be more high maintenance than others. Do your research to find a dog that’s right for your family.
Sources: WebMD, Nylabone, University of Buffalo, CBC,