We’ve now had our dog for about 6 months, and when I look at him, I don’t recognize the pup we brought home, an anxious little thing with a thin, dull coat.

He is a rescue dog from the RSPCA and from his behavior I’d say he’s been through some tough times. Being a breed I had never had before I remember looking up a Wonder Puppy A to Z website to try and find out what I should expect from his temperament.

The website included things like body language, diet, training, playing, socialisation and separation anxiety. And it struck me how similar this was to raising a child! Things like setting an example and displaying positive body language, sticking to a routine, playing together and eating a healthy diet, well most of the time anyway. And that when things go pear shaped it’s mainly because the head trainer (me) has let things slide and the herd (them) is taking advantage…

I’m happy to report that our pup is now well adjusted and much calmer. He is still nervous around men and not keen on small children, and he particularly dislikes the large camera box in the office, can’t figure that one out!

Pets are recommended for young families as they teach empathy and responsibility to children and this works really well for us: we all benefit from the morning walk as the dog and kid get some fresh air, and I get 10 minutes of peace to enjoy my coffee!

But I reckon that, other than a very healthy diet, what made a difference to our dog’s wellbeing are mostly things that are not on the A to Z list: quiet times, lots of physical contact and cuddles, lots of patience, and lots of love.

Not sure the cats feel the way I do, but waking up to these adoring doggie eyes makes me smile every morning. And when I’m having “one of those days” which all parents have, and especially single parents, I remind myself that I should eat a healthy meal, have a rest and get an extra cuddle. If it’s good enough for the dog, it’s good enough for me!

A house is not a home until it has a dog.

Gerald Durrell

Happy Parenting!

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