Saturday 3 December 2016

Can you really compare having a Chihuahua with having a child?

Published 08/07/2015 | 02:30

More and more young women are opting to forgo nine months of labour and pick up a pooch at the petshop instead.

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The trend for 'furbabies' has reached such epic proportions that Pope Francis recently waded into the so-called 'dog motherhood' debate, urging couples to raise kids, not dogs.

Recent data from the US shows a correlation between a surge in small dog ownership and declining birth rate among women aged 15 to 29.

But is it fair to expect a dog to live up to a life without kids? Canine behaviour and training consultant, Samantha Rawson (thecaninecollege.ie) says equating a pup with any human relationship is a recipe for disaster.

"Treating a dog like anything other than a dog is never good," she says. "A dog is not a baby. It is a dog with its own physical and emotional needs which are often ignored by a selfish owner who wants the dog to conform to their desires."

She adds: "Dogs do make wonderful companions and studies have shown that dogs can bring positive attention to lonely people but when you are indulging your dog, just stop and think… if anything happened or there was a sudden change in circumstance, could my dog live with someone else? If the answer is no, you are not being kind to the dog."

Whilst there's no shame in choosing to be child-free, it's wise to address the question why you're happier with a beagle than a baby.

"Humans need to be conscious of when they are projecting human emotions onto their dog and that they're not interacting with dogs because they are more trainable/ controllable than human beings," says psychologist Susannah Healy (accesspsychology.ie).

"We all want to be loved and dogs give us this in spades. But for our health we need to be able to deal with the far greater depth, breadth and expansiveness of human interaction."

Frankly unless you pushed that German Shepherd out of your lady bits or cradled a corgi after a gruelling C-section, then it's NOT a baby.

Irish Independent

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