faceless mother with newborn baby near dog

Understanding Canine Communication: How to Keep Your Dog and Baby Safe Together

As dog owners, it’s crucial to remember that dogs aren’t simply four-legged furry babies. They are animals and predators with instincts that have been honed over millennia. While dogs may have limited audible communication, their body language speaks volumes, and understanding it can be key to fostering a harmonious relationship between your dog and your child.

I recently came across a video where a dog bit a baby and moved away, sparking numerous outraged comments like “that dog should be put to sleep!”, “OMG poor baby, I hope they do something to that dog!” and my personal favourite: “if that was my dog, I’d take it out back and shoot it myself!”. However, it’s essential to consider whether the dog was genuinely aggressive or merely defending itself.

In the video, the baby was allowed to pull the dog’s tail and grab its feet, which the dog tolerated despite displaying signs of discomfort. These signs include ears pulled back, licking lips, showing the whites of their eyes (whale eye), and turning their head away. Eventually, the baby crawled onto the dog’s hindquarters, prompting the dog to bite the infant’s head before walking away. If the dog were indeed aggressive, the baby wouldn’t have been able to approach it in the first place.

A truly aggressive dog is one that aims to kill or seriously harm a human or another dog. However, many of the behaviours we see in our domesticated pets, like chasing a ball or shaking a squeaky toy, are closely related to their predatory instincts. It’s essential to distinguish between these natural instincts and genuine aggression.

To maintain a safe environment for both your dog and your child, proper training is paramount. In the video, the situation could have been diffused by either moving the child away from the dog or calling the dog away. This would have taught the dog that it’s okay to remove itself from an uncomfortable situation and that giving the child space is positive.

Ultimately, teaching both your dog and your child to respect each other’s space is the most effective way to prevent accidents and ensure that they grow up to be the best of friends. Understanding and respecting our pets’ innate instincts, along with proper training, can lead to a harmonious and loving household for all.

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