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If Fido is unruly, will little Bobby be, too?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn • Do you still feel that the way a person handles their dog is a good indicator of what kind of parent they'll be? Because if that's true my kids are going to be kitten-throttling serial killers. The dogs have too many toys, I plan most vacations so I can bring them along, and I have a habit of praising them for existing. If one of them comes over all waggy, I'll put down my book in a heartbeat to lavish unearned adoration on them.

This means my kids are going to be entitled, self-centered, unsympathetic, instant-gratification-focused nightmares, right? And they probably won't run the vacuum, either.

Dog owner

Dear Dog Owner • I do still think that.

And if you plan to treat any children exactly as you treat your dogs, then, yes, CPS will look unkindly upon your letting the kids outside to poop in the yard.

Treating your dogs in a way that's right for dogs, though, usually means you'll treat kids in a way that's right for kids, so it's a fine indicator.

Re: Dog Ownership and Parenting • Although I suspect the dog owner was being facetious, I do think it is worth noting that in my experience, not disciplining/training your dog can translate to not setting boundaries for your kids. Personally, I don't think there is anything more annoying than a dog/child that does whatever it wants — be it jumping on people and eating off of people plates or interrupting every conversation to say "look at me" and eating while jumping on the couch.

Both groups benefit from (and want) some boundaries/discipline.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous • Right — the discipline that is appropriate to the species and to the temperament of the dog/child. That was the point of my original, long-ago comment, that the willingness to meet needs and enforce boundaries was predictive. Thanks for bringing it up.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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