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Are Pet Owners Better Parents Than Other People? What Science Says

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Dogster Team

Cats and Dogs

Are Pet Owners Better Parents Than Other People? What Science Says

Caring for a pet is a lot of responsibility! You must oversee your pet’s diet, exercise, training, socialization, vet appointments, and more. Not to mention the near-constant clean-up that most pets require! Considering how many responsibilities fall on pet owners, it is only natural that some might wonder if those who care for pets may become better parents.

According to a recent study, a third of Americans believe that pet ownership has better prepared them for parenthood. But does this mean that pet owners make better parents?

The truth is, there is no guarantee that owning a pet will make you a better parent. However, the life skills that pet ownership can teach may prepare you for parenthood (more on that later).

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Can Owning a Pet Count as Parenting?

You may be thinking: can caring for a pet really count as parenting? Yes, it can! An anthropologist from Boise State University found that some cultures have shifted to embrace their pets as their own children in recent years. This is known as alloparenting, or a willingness to raise and care for offspring who are not biologically their own, and it is biologically ingrained into human beings.

This study suggests that humans evolved to become nurturing, regardless of the species. Therefore, the parental instincts one may feel when caring for a human baby can also be felt when caring for a cat or dog! So, the next time someone calls themselves a “pet parent,” they’re probably not joking.

Can Owning a Pet Prepare You for Parenthood?

This may not come as a surprise for pet owners, but caring for a pet can be good preparation for caring for a child. Raising a pet can present opportunities to gain skills necessary to parenting. Responsibility, patience, awareness, emotional maturity, and other such skills are vital to caring for a pet and bringing up a child.

If you have a partner with whom you plan to raise children someday, raising a pet together can be an excellent first step. Not only will the experience teach many of the needed skills associated with parenthood, but it can also be an indicator of whether or not your partner is someone you want to raise children with.

Caring for a pet with a partner who is lazy, uncaring, and impatient with the pet can be a pretty clear sign that raising a child with them may look the same. However, if your partner is cooperative, supportive, loving, and all-around excellent with your pet, that could reflect the parent they may become!

woman playing with her pets
Image Credit: Josep Suria, Shutterstock

How You Treat Your Pet May Indicate How You Will Treat Your Child

How your partner treats pets can show how they may treat a future child. The same can be said for you. For instance, if you are known to overindulge your pet, perhaps to the point of unhealthy obesity, you may bend to your child’s every whim.

If you hover over your pet and scold them constantly, you may become an overbearing parent. These behaviors are something to pay attention to. If you catch yourself behaving in an unpleasant way toward your pet, take some time to consider why that may be. This self-reflection will make you a better pet owner, parent, and person!

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Pet parents are the real deal, as we tend to treat our pets with just as much care and affection as we would a child. While pet ownership does not directly correlate with better or worse parenting, it can be a helpful indicator of the type of parent you could become. Yet, at the end of the day, the best parents are not strictly those who have or have not raised pets, but those who work hard to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

Also See: How to Be a Good Dog Mom: 15 Vet Approved Tips to Be the Best One Ever

Featured Image Credit: jellypet, Pixabay

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