The Facts about Dogs and Babies


MYTH 

Your dog will accept your new baby into the family and there is no need to train them; they will accept/love the baby because you do. For generations we have introduced dogs and have left it to chance for the dog to accept the baby and all that comes along with the developing stages from new-born to toddler, to child.

FACT:  

No family wants to believe that their dog is capable of biting or mauling their child.  According to Fatal Dog Attack Statistics, the age groups with the highest number of fatalities are children under the age of 1 year old, and this age group accounts for 19% of the deaths due to dog attacks. Of these, 72% were less than 90 days old. 

You are asking yourself how this could be and the answer is simple: Dogs are predatory animals that react off of instinct and, if your dog is pre-dispositioned genetically to have a high prey drive, then the dog can perceive your newborn baby as prey.  Everything down to how your newborn baby cries could trigger a response in your dog that could result in them “attacking the prey.”  We need to be aware of all this information about our dogs before bringing home your newborn.  

Another thing to note is that up to this point your dog has never had to share their territory with anything.  There is a level of competition and threat that can go along with bringing home a new baby. Your dog now sees that all your attention is on that baby and some dogs have trouble adjusting to this especially if they are used to controlling the household and getting all the attention.  

MYTH

Your dog will be good around your newborn because they have been around kids before and loved them.

FACT:  

We live in a culture that waits until there is a problem before deciding we need to take action. This is a recipe for disaster especially when it involves dogs and babies.
Majority of families have their dog first before their baby arrives, and the dog is pretty much their “Fur Baby”! When asking expecting moms “Is your dog ready for the arrival of your newborn?”, most of them say “Yes! My dog has been around kids and loves them”. 
When somebody compares how their dog acts around kids, that is significantly different to how your dog will behave when there is a crying, smelly, noisy, crawling, all attention-getting little baby that is never leaving! We are barely ready for that as parents let alone the dogs!
We need to use caution when using the term “kid friendly” too loosely. A dog that has been raised around babies and kids is very different than a dog that has been exposed to them for short amounts of time.

MYTH

Using a “fake” baby will help your dog prepare for your newborn and will give us an idea of how the dog will respond to the new baby.


FACT:

We have no way of knowing how your dog will perceive the “fake” baby and dogs are extremely intelligent creatures. If for months you are preparing your dog with a “fake” baby and then your new-born arrives that moves, makes noise, and has a new smell it could actually draw more suspicion and curiosity to your dog. We also never want our dog to think the newborn baby is a toy. I have seen many families prepare the dog with this “fake” baby only to leave it laying around on the counter!

MYTH

Letting the dog sleep with your kid will make them bond together.

FACT:  
Allowing your dog to sleep with your kids puts them all on equal playing ground. They might as well be littermates. Some dogs can be up on furniture and in beds with no problems while other dogs can get territorial over their space. This is very dependent on that individual dog but putting your child in a situation where the dog could growl/nip if rolled on or if the child gets up to use the bathroom and then comes back to the dog not wanting to move over could be dangerous. The dog should have their own sleeping space on a dog bed on the floor.

MYTH

My dog is so well tempered he will allow my kids to grab his/her food while eating.


FACT:  

When did that become the determining factor on if your dog and child would be OK together? It’s important to remember that food and water are resources for a dog. If there is an abundant resource, the dog might be less likely to guard it. But that is also dependent on the dogs drive for it. Some dogs have a higher food drive and will feel like they are in competition to eat or guard their food. Even in a pack of puppies, if the food gets low, the puppies will challenge each other until its all gone. Just because your dog allows your child to play with their food doesn’t mean they won’t ever guard their resource or nip. It just means at the moment they are being very tolerant of the situation and it may be just out of respect that you are there.

MYTH

I trust my dog alone with my baby.

FACT:  
Dogs are animals and animals can be unpredictable. This statement sets all parties up for failure. Everybody needs to respect the breed of dog you have and understand the characteristics of that breed. There is nothing to prove in this area especially when it comes to the safety of your child or their friends. It is not enough to say that children and dogs should never be left alone unsupervised. Even that statement gives a false sense that if you are in the room that nothing would happen. The truth is you need to know and understand your individual dog and manage your household accordingly.

MYTH

There are only certain breeds that you need to worry about around babies or Young Kids.

FACT:  Any breed of dog is capable of nipping/biting/mauling or killing a child. It is important to understand that certain breeds have different bite styles and as a result can cause more damage if they do bite especially when a young child is involved. You have to know your dogs breed characteristics to help you know what their bite style is. A herding dog such as an Australian Shepherd was bred to herd. Therefore their bite style is to nip and they can tend to bite at kids legs when they run. A Pit Bull has a fight drive and their style of biting is to hold on and thrash. Jack Russell’s were bred to hunt vermin and they also will tend to hold on to their prey. Any bite can cause damage and also a dog that normally would bite and pull or maybe nip could also be capable of other styles depending on the response they are getting while on the bite.

MYTH

Once a dog bites or tastes blood it will always be aggressive and you need to get rid of the dog.

FACT: Once a dog resorts to biting, it has now opened up a new behaviour and depending on the result that came after the bite determines if the behaviour was successful or not. If the dog is fearful and biting resulted in the “threat” backing away from them then to the dog, it worked. If in the same scenario, the “threat” kept coming and then the dog backed away, then biting had no effect. A dog is going to do what gets the results they are looking for. That is why a lot of dogs growl when threatened because it is a warning signal. If growling never works, the next action could be biting. If the dog has no outlet or place to get away, sometimes they feel biting is the only option. It is very rare for a dog to bite with no reason or precursor. In cases where they do, it is normally a predatory bite and then yes in those cases it could be unpredictable keeping that dog if you can’t manage them appropriately, especially around kids. 

 

 Courtesy of : Scotty Valadao - Canine Behaviorist      https://www.friendsofthedog.co.za/the-facts-about-dogs-and-babies.html

 

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