Many pet owners report that their dogs protect babies and children in the household. Is it true that dogs instinctively know that children must be treated gently and protected from harm? Here’s what we know.
Over Centuries, Dogs Have Been Selectively Bred For Protection
Modern dogs are descendent from wolves and were probably domesticated 14-20 thousands years ago in Asia and in Europe where they coupled with man to hunt and protect. Native Americans also had domesticated dogs that were integral to the Indian’s survival and were looked upon as part of the tribe (Interesting fact, nearly all of the American Indian dogs, like the Indians themselves, were wiped out by diseases like rabies and canine distemper brought to the New World by the dogs that came along with colonists.) In the thousands of years that we have been living with this great species, we have selected and bred for loyalty and protection. If dogs really do protect babies, it’s partially because we have selectively bred this trait into them.
Good luck turning this video off early.
Dogs Take Their Cue From Parents
Dogs are likely to behave more sensitively towards babies because they see humans doing the same. Dogs regard their owners as leaders of the pack and when they see the leader behaving protectively, they adopt the same behavior.
Dogs Protect Babies Because They See Them As Human Puppies
Though it is likely that dogs take their cue from their owners as how to behave around babies, it’s also likely that dogs know that the baby of the house is the ‘pup’ of the owner and will treat him or her with deference because of the baby’s social standing in the pack.
Herding Dog Breeds May Just Be Herding The Babies
Collies and Australian cattle dogs may enjoy sleeping near toddlers and following them around because it is their instinct to herd things. Many pet owners report that their herding-breed dogs are restless during children’s parties because the dogs can’t stand having all the children located in different parts of the house and won’t rest until they can get all their human charges in one room.
Guard Dogs Are Just Doing Their Jobs
Do you have thoughts on why these dogs are trying to save these children from the water? Please share in the comments section below.
Guard Dogs like German shepherds are incredibly intelligent, that’s why they are the top breed choice when it comes to selecting candidates for training as Seeing Eye dogs, military dogs, and police dogs. Some pet owners build upon shepherd’s natural instinct to protect and train German shepherds to act as guard dogs for children and to protect them against intruders or kidnappers. The video below shows such a training session taking place.
The man in this video is training this dog to protect the child.
Babies That Grow Up With Dogs Have Stronger Immunity
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine hints that children that grow up in households with dogs are less likely to develop asthma and more likely to have a strong immune system. This is because dogs expose young babies to a wider array of pathogens than they would otherwise encounter. The exposure to these germs and fungi help the young baby to develop early immunity.
Dogs In Households With Babies Should Be Treated For Parasites
Most of the intestinal parasites that dogs can get, people can get. Because babies have no understanding of good hygene they are at high risk for infection by an intestinal parasite if the dog that they live with is a carrier. In NYC, 3 out of every 100 dogs tests positive for a communicable intestinal parasite. Adult dogs that are positive for intestinal parasites can have no outward sign that they are infectious. Have your dog’s stool tested annually for parasites and keep him or her on a monthly preventative like Heartgard.
It’s also important that you protect your dog against fleas so that your baby is not bitten by the insects. Fleas can be transmitted to dogs living in NYC because they drop off of already-infected dogs, mice, and cats living in apartment buildings and then jump onto uninfected dogs while they ride in the elevator or walk down the hallway.
If you take your dog Upstate, to New Jersey, to parks in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island or to Long Island, it’s important that you check your dog for ticks before allowing your baby to play with the dog. Studies show that as many as 50% of all blacklegged ticks in our area are infected with Lyme disease. Products like Vectra both kill and repel ticks.
View the Companion Animal Parasite Council’s forecast for flea and tick borne disease prevalence in NYC 2019.
Dog Food and Salmonella
Because Salmonella bacteria is sometimes found on raw meat products, we advise you not to leave pet food out for an extended period of time, to thoroughly wash food bowls after feeding your pet, and to keep the pet feeding area cleaned with a disinfectant like a mild bleach solution. Prevent your baby or toddler from playing in the area where your pet eats.