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Are Dogs Protective Of Babies? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

baby crawling near long-coated brown dog near door

Are Dogs Protective Of Babies? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

VET APPROVED

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

BVM BVS MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Canines may be man’s best friend, but does that apply to babies, too? If you have a dog (or dogs) in your home but will be welcoming a new baby soon, you’re probably wondering how your pups will view your little one. Can dogs be around newborns? Will they be jealous of the attention the new baby receives, or will they be protective of them?

Are dogs protective of babies? Some dogs are indeed protective of babies, but as all dogs are individuals, not every dog will be. However, many dogs are, and some breeds are more protective than others. Here’s what you should know if you’ll soon have a baby and a dog living together.

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Do Dogs Like Babies?

While we can’t know for sure whether dogs like babies, they do seem to take a special interest in and become quickly smitten with our little ones. Studies have been done on how our canine companions perceive us, but those studies only apply to adult humans, not babies, so the research is out on how dogs see them1. What we do know, though, is that a good majority of pups quickly become intrigued by the new tiny human in the home. This is particularly true if your dog is still a puppy because they are usually more inquisitive and playful than adult dogs.

baby and pitbull dog in bed
Image Credit: Antonio Hitado Orden, Shutterstock

Are Dogs Protective of Babies?

As we said at the beginning, many dogs are indeed protective of babies (although not all dogs will be). But why do they become protective of our little ones?

Perhaps the biggest reason our canine pals get protective is that they are social, pack-driven creatures. Pups who are closely bonded with their human family view them as pack members, so it only makes sense that a new tiny human would automatically become a pack member, too. Dogs seem to recognize that these new additions are a part of the family, which triggers their protective instincts.

Another reason our pups may become protective of little ones is because they see how protective we are of our babies. Dogs are big on mimicking our behaviors, so when they see you taking care of your baby and being gentle around them, they realize they should behave in a similar manner. Our pups pick up on our body language and verbal cues quite quickly, so it won’t take them long to realize the tiny human needs protecting.

Canines can also pick up on emotions and feelings, so it is thought that they can sense that a baby is more vulnerable than an adult human and might associate the baby with a young pup. This is why you might find your dog doing something, such as trying to lick your baby’s rear or sniffing at their face. They’re trying to check your little one to ensure they are healthy or trying to clean them much like they would do with a puppy.

Some dog breeds are simply more inclined to be gentle and protective of little ones. Take the Newfoundland, who is known as a “nanny dog” due to their natural instinct to be gentle yet protective around little ones. This breed will manage to stay calm even when children are noisy and chaotic.

So, our canine companions tend to be protective of babies for several reasons.

Precautions for New Parents

Unfortunately, as protective as our canine friends can be towards babies, accidents can occur. Most dogs are much larger than babies, which can lead to incidents like a dog stepping on a little one. Dogs can be easily startled at times, too, and if a baby startles them, they could react with a bite. If you’re a dog owner who is also (or about to be) a new parent, there are some precautions you should take to keep your baby and dog safe.

  • Get your dog used to the new items in the home before the baby arrives. A big one is the stroller, which some canines are immensely scared of at first. Let your pup sniff and explore all the new baby stuff you acquire. Play baby noises and help teach your dog to walk next to the stroller before the baby arrives.
  • Be sure to begin proper training and socialization with your dog as soon as you get them. This way, your dog should be well-behaved by the time you have a baby. If you have concerns about your pup being around your little one, though, there are trainers who are experienced at working with dogs to get them used to babies.
  • Never leave a dog and baby alone—no matter how well-behaved your pup is.
  • Introduce your dog to the new baby slowly.
  • Sometimes, dogs become aggressive around babies, but not towards them. Instead, they get so protective that they’ll get between a baby and anyone or anything else, including the baby’s parents. In this situation, you’ll likely need the help of a vet or trainer to break the behavior.
dog-during-obedience-training
Image Credit: Jaromir-Chalabala, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Our canine pals can absolutely be protective of babies, but not all dogs will be protective. A good majority will be, though. As to why they become protective of little ones, it’s probably a combination of acknowledging the baby as part of the pack unit, realizing the tiny human is very vulnerable like a puppy, and seeing and mimicking how we interact with the baby. Just remember that no matter how good a pup you have, you should still take precautions when dogs and babies are together, as accidents can happen.

Sources

Featured Image Credit: Picsea, Unsplash

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