Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Are You a Helicopter Pet Parent?

By Tamara McRill

Do you hesitate to let your dog or cat do anything outside or even inside of the home without your supervision? Or maybe you're quick to give them extra tips and hints during training or games. You've probably at least heard the phrase “helicopter parent,” but have you ever stopped to consider that you may be a helicopter pet owner?

Hovering Isn't All Bad

If you constantly hover over your pet and manage every aspect of their lives, as well as try to solve all of their problems, you just might be a helicopter pet parent. I've given this some serious consideration and have to admit that, to some extent, I am. As our dog Cody gets older, I notice we do way more for him, whether he needs us to or not, and monitor everything he does that much closer.

Now this type of parenting has bad connotations, but helicopter pet parenting isn't necessarily all bad. Like with most things, it depends on how far you take it. Although it does seem easier to take it too far with our pets than with children, since our fur babies are constantly in our care.

As long as we realize our pets deserve to make their own choices at times and need to be self reliant to a certain extent, a little hovering won't hurt them. It's when the hovering turns to smothering that there can be a problem. Are you wondering if you may be a helicopter pet parent? Take this short quiz to find out!

Helicopter Pet Parent Quiz

1. When your dog or cat drops a toy just out of their reach, you
A. May not even notice, if you're not watching at the moment.
B. Glance to see if it's near breakables or has fallen behind the couch.
C. Jump up and go get it for them.

2. Before purchasing a pet toy, you
A. Grab the one that looks safe and you know your pet will like.
B. Do a bit of research before going shopping.
C. Consult Consumer Reports, your favorite pet blogs or a few trusted pet parents, or ask your vet to weigh in.

3. After hiding a CANIDAE treat for your dog or cat to “find,” you
A. Stand back and let them find it all on their own.
B. Let them try to find it on their own, but point them in the general direction if they seem lost.
C. Stay with them the entire time, pointing out the way.

4. Your pet somehow got lost. What's the first thing you do?
A. After looking everywhere, see if you have a photo for flyers.
B. Grab your pet identification kit.
C. Lost? My pet has a GPS tracking device on their collar.

5. After letting your pet out into your fenced-in backyard, you
A. Go about your day, knowing they are safe.
B. Check on them every hour or so.
C. Stay outside with them, no exceptions.

6. Your dog takes off after the neighbor's cat, who goes to swat him on the nose. You
A. Stop what you're doing when you hear the altercation and make sure both animals are okay.
B. Are halfway to them, shouting warnings when it happens, and check on both pets.
C. Swoop in and grab your dog before it happens, since you are always right by his side.

7. How many of these animal professionals do you have on speed dial – veterinarian, dog trainer, pet sitter, groomer, etc.?
A. 1
B. 2
C. 3+

Mostly A's: Laid Back Life Mate

If you answered A to the majority of these questions, you probably believe that pets need space to do their own animal thing. While you absolutely love and take great care of your cat or dog, you don't stress about every little thing.

Mostly B's: Cautious Caregiver

If B was your predominate choice, you are likely a responsible pet owner who may occasionally hover a bit. Being prepared for any situation and helping are partially how you show your love, but you still try to let your pet learn and do things on their own.

Mostly C's: Hovering Helicopter

If you answered C to most of the questions, then you are probably a helicopter pet owner. Your pet does nothing without your approval and, of course, without you being right there to supervise! Try to give your pet some space or choices now and then, so they don't feel smothered by your love.

How did you score? Are you a helicopter pet parent, laid back buddy or somewhere in between?

Top photo by Cheryl Reed
Bottom photo by liesvanrompaey

Read more articles by Tamara McRill


  1. I never thought of being a helicopter pet owner! Until now that is!!

  2. Mostly Bs. When I read "helicopter pet parent," I thought we'd qualify. LOL


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