"Six ways my kid is exactly like a dog."

A really cute dog.

When I was pregnant with my eldest child this is, word for word, the best advice I got. And upon you, expectant mother, I wish to bestow it.

“Babies are like dogs. They can smell fear.”

On one level, this is a mildly offensive statement. ‘How-dare-you-compare-my-perfect-delicious-and-as-yet-unborn-child-to-your-old-snivelling-stinky-bull-terrier.’

And yet, it’s 100% true. After giving birth, I quickly discovered that the times my baby was most upset was also when I was most upset. The times my baby was calmest was also when I was calmest. In other words, my baby smelt my fear and responded in the only way he knew how.

While I was pregnant with my second late last year, I reflected on this pearl of wisdom, and realised that babies and toddlers are in fact exactly like dogs in many other ways.

Babies are like dogs. They can smell fear.

So, allow me to share some of the wisdom of dog rearing that you can apply to your parenting.

1. Yes. Babies really can smell fear.

And actually, I reckon science will back me up here. Babies are sentient beings. All they have to go on is pure instinct. If they can sense any stress on your part they respond in kind. You gotta chill out to get the baby to chill out. One obstetrician I spoke to said there were studies that showed calm parents usually had calm babies.

2. You have to take kids out for a walk.

Especially little boys. At least once a day. They go a little crazy cooped up in the house. They need to get out and work off a little energy. (You’ll thank me for this in the middle of afternoon nap time.)


3. They get hangry.

Okay, dogs don’t get hangry I’ll admit. But they certainly let you know if you haven’t fed them. Children are fairly similar in my experience. If you don’t feed them, they let you know in a variety of ways. Occasionally by a massive tantrum.

4. The expensive toys you get them are nowhere near as exciting as...

... the thing you don’t want them to touch, or a cardboard box, or a manky old dolly. Just don’t even try.

5. You reward good behaviour and ignore bad.

It’s true, classic dog behaviour management is also great child behaviour management. Reward the good behaviour with praise (and or chocolate – no judgement here!) and ignore the bad.

6. If you really can’t ignore the bad behaviour I recommend a swift and concise response – same with dogs.

A sharp “NO” can be very effective.

I promise, my ovaries jump up and down just as much as yours at the sight of a delicious squishy baby. But I do find a touch of animal husbandry greatly enhances my parenting.

What's the strangest baby advice you ever got?

CLICK THROUGH the gallery of the most adorable puppies and dogs we could find on Pinterest.

Want more? Try this.

"Don't judge me but... I don't follow any of the pregnancy advice."

"Kitty Flanagan, you don't have kids. So, yes, your parenting advice is worthless."