If you go to the dog park you’ll see a wide variety of human and dog interactions and parenting styles. Some people are more attentive, while others sit on a bench in the shade and talking on the cellphone or reading a book, barely paying any attention to their dog. There are a wide variety of pet parenting styles out there. Which type of pet parent are you and what does it say about you?
Helicopter parenting may not be the best strategy for raising kids, but recent research from UC Berkeley says that a healthy measure of clinginess and over-protectiveness could actually be advantageous when rearing a dog. People who showed the highest levels of dependence on their pets, also often express the greatest affection for them. Dogs require lifelong parenting, and they certainly get it from a helicopter parent. If you are a helicopter parent you probably buy only the best for your canine companion: no generic dog food (you may even cook for your dog), plus plenty of vitamins, supplements, and nutrition based treats. Helicopter parents dress dogs for weather conditions, pulling out a warm sweater for a cold day. You might take a day off from work if your dog is not feeling well, or limit your own vacation time to avoid being away from your dog too long, and you may even use a webcam or Instagram to keep an eye on your pet when you’re away or capture every moment of your life together. If you have this kind of time on your hands, odds are you don’t have human kids to take care of.
The authoritarian parent has strict rules, and rules are not meant to be broken. Dogs with an authoritarian parent are usually treated as pets, and not members of the human family. These dogs probably don’t have the full run of the house, and may be delegated to designated areas of the house or property such as the yard, a dog house, or the mud room on those colder nights. These pets are not being abused, and yet they are not being spoiled: nobody is sneaking them an extra treat, and mealtimes mean they get a prescribed amount of food at a specific time and in a specific place. Authoritarian pet parents are generally very responsible about feeding, grooming, sheltering and exercising their canine companions. If you are this kind of parent, you may want to consider relaxing the rules sometimes… a few spontaneous snuggles and little play time with your dog (who loves you regardless) is a joyful experience that everyone should experience sometimes.
Permissive pet parents (like permissive human parents) frequently have dogs that could be considered spoiled. Their dogs have no rules and very little, if any, training. These dogs cheerfully ignore the commands of all humans, and do whatever they want. These dogs snatch food off of the table, our out of the hands of a passing child, they are usually bad at walking on leash, push other dogs around, relieve themselves inside (because hey, there are no repercussions and frankly they just don’t know better), and are not the best of house guests. Permissive pet parents love their dogs, but don’t necessarily feel the need to enforce rules, reward good behavior in a healthy way or reprimand bad behavior. If you are an overly permissive pet parent, it’s important to realize that your dog might actually be happier and feel more protected if you set some reasonable boundaries and were consistently clear about what kind of behavior will or will not be tolerated. Rewarding good behavior is something every dog can understand, and every pet parent enjoys.
This pet parent is usually a bit of a hypochondriac. Any time their dog frowns they think something is horribly wrong. It’s important to take good care of your pet, but this kind of alarmist behavior borders on neurotic. The worrywart often tempts the dog with special treats when they seem down or off, using anything from ice cream to fried chicken to make their dog ‘happy’. Dogs catch on to this backwards reward system quickly, they know that a pleading look, a frown, a sigh… these are the things that set the worrywart into treat mode, and the dogs respond accordingly (because hey, who doesn’t like treats?). With all those treats, a dog can reach an unhealthy weight and start acting sluggish, which is now a genuine reason for concern and more treats. It’s important to know that dogs, like humans, have many emotions. You’re not a bad parent just because your dog is not wagging his or her tail every minute of the day. Give your dog a little personal space and let them have their feelings. A gentle stroke or a little cuddle time are the best medicine, not treats.
The family ties pet parent will go above and beyond the call of duty for their canine family members just like they would for their human family members. These dogs are fully integrated it into family pack. This pet parent wouldn’t hesitate to spend top dollar on anything their dog needs (from health care to grooming, and everything in between). If you are this type of pet parent you love to pamper your dog, but also respect that your dog is a dog, and has special dog needs. You enjoy the unique interaction and affection that only a dog can add to your life. Lucky dogs with this type of pet parent are generally well balanced and behaved. These dogs get plenty of love and attention, have mostly free range access to the house, join the humans in daily activities, and respect their humans and the boundaries they set. If you are a family ties type of pet parent, you have mastered the balance between having rules and setting boundaries, and enjoying those spontaneous bursts of love and fun that all dogs and humans crave.
Regardless of our parenting styles, it’s important to have balance in your life and your dog’s life. Dogs look to you to be the pack master, and when they have no master, they will become the pack master leading to potential behavioral problems. It’s important to do your research before bringing a new furry family member into your home.
What kind of pet parent are you? Sound off in the comments below!