Pets Do Not = Children: The Cons Of Treating Pets Like Kids

on February 5, 2010
Posted in Behavior Management

We love you, humans. We, the family pet, are just that: family. We are one of your own, one of the children. And you sometimes treat us as such, too. Of course you do! While we are a different species, from a developmental perspective we pets are very similar to children. So it makes sense that you should love us in the familial way.

Loving us is crucial to our lives being full of happiness! But treating us like children can sometimes actually be bad for our, and your, health. Here are some reasons why NOT to treat us like kids!
Pampering Breeds Jealousy
Chances are, you let us sit on your laps. Of course. You may let us kiss you on the lips (even a get a little lickie, too!), and you probably even let us sleep with you. Hold it: ain’t all that shtuff supposed to be saved for your mate? Allowing your pet to engage in extra-intimate activities can throw a wrench in your other intimate relationships, namely your marital one. If you have a spouse, save the smooches for them. If you’re single, wondering why, and engaging in the above activities, then wean your fuzz-ball from your futon and make a date.
Saying “No” Does Not Hurt Our Feelings!
Yes, we have feelings. Yes, we feel pain. Yes, we jump with joy. But no, reprimanding us and denying us certain things (ie. sleeping in your bed) will not make us feel “bad”. Nothing makes us feel bad, but ourselves. C’mon, you know that. You’re in control! Doesn’t that make you feel good?
Anyhow, when you let us do whatever we want, we tend to get unruly and disruptive, and take over the whole house. We don’t listen (why should we? You let us do whatever we want), we wreck things, we help ourselves to the refrigerator… it’s just bad news all around. Sound like a spoiled toddler? Yeah, we’re so developmentally similar.
Showing us who’s boss will actually be good for us: it helps us feel safe, as though someone (you) are taking care of us. Looking out for our best interests. We feel calm, safe, protected. So just say no!
Don’t Make Me Mad
What do little children do when they don’t get their way? They throw things, they throw tantrums. They scream. They kick. Sometimes they pee. Well, again, developmentally we pets are the same. Except that we have jaws, and claws, and sometimes razor sharp teeth. Throw in some untouched testicles or some heat, and you’ve got yourself one crazy Tazmanian Devil. If you don’t want to make us mad, start by teaching us the word “no”. Yes?
Don’t spoil us! Wean us! Make sure we know you’re the Alpha Pet, the leader of the pack. And we shall remain obedient, for life.
Your Loyal Servant, Buster
Read also: Why Won’t My Dog Stop Licking Its Paws?

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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