If you are a dog owner, you may have noticed your pup acts differently when they are around a newborn baby.
Most dogs are friendly to most people and other dogs, but they seem to understand that babies need to be treated extra carefully.
Why is this?
Why Are Dogs Gentle With Babies (Even Without Training)?
Dogs are gentle with babies because they can instinctively tell that the baby is like a puppy and needs to be treated differently than an adult human or dog.
Dogs can tell the difference between an adult and a child.
So when they are around babies, they are naturally gentle and protective.
This article will take a more in-depth look at how a dog’s breeding instincts influence how it will act around a newborn child.
Reasons Why Dogs Are Gentle With Babies
We’ll get into the many similar features dogs, and babies share in the next section, but there is more to why dogs understand to be gentle with babies than just those commonalities.
Dogs can recognize that babies need to be treated delicately, but what exactly lets them know this?
1. Protective Instincts
The most likely reason dogs are gentle with babies is known as “pack drive.”
Dogs have always had the natural instincts to mate, breed, and guard their pups.
This drive comes into play when a dog belongs to a human family.
Dogs are often protective of their owners. That drive will be activated when a newborn baby is brought into the family home.
The dog will meet the baby instantly and instinctively understand that someone new and vulnerable has entered the family, and the dog’s maternal or paternal instincts will appear.
Sometimes, dogs may go so far as to sniff at or lick a baby’s head or bottom to check their temperature, proving they understand that babies are like puppies and need to be treated with great care.
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2. Sense of Smell
All dogs are born with an incredibly powerful sense of smell which they use to understand the world around them.
Dogs understand things just by sniffing them.
A dog can easily recognize its owner just because of its scent. Dogs also can recognize the smell of a newborn baby.
When they are introduced to a baby, a dog will not just realize that they are a human. Instead, the dog can tell through the baby’s scent that they are a baby and should be treated very gently.
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3. Emotional Intelligence
Just like humans, dogs have feelings too. These feelings are not always visible on a dog the way they are on a human, but dogs are highly emotionally intelligent.
This is another significant contributing factor to why dogs realize they need to be careful with babies.
Through its feelings, a dog can understand that a human baby is vulnerable, just like its puppies would be.
Its emotions let it know that they need to be treated with great care because the baby has just been born and is defenseless.
Before we carry on with this post, why not take a minute to enjoy this super-cute video of a human baby and a Husky puppy growing up together:
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Why Do Dogs Like Babies So Much?
Dogs (often) like babies for various reasons, although the extent of their fondness can vary depending on the individual dog’s temperament, socialization, and experiences.
Here are some reasons why dogs like babies:
1. Social creatures: Dogs are social animals and have been domesticated for thousands of years.
They are naturally drawn to humans, and this extends to babies as well as adults.
A well-socialized dog will likely be interested in any new member of the family, including infants.
2. Scent: Babies have a unique and distinct smell that dogs may find intriguing or comforting.
A dog’s sense of smell is much stronger than that of humans, and they rely on their noses to explore the world around them.
3. Non-threatening size: Babies are smaller and less threatening than adults, which can make dogs feel more at ease around them.
Dogs may perceive babies as less dominant and thus be more inclined to approach and interact with them.
4. Curiosity: Dogs are naturally curious animals, and the presence of a baby in their environment may pique their interest.
They might want to investigate this new, small human and interact with them to better understand their role within the family unit.
5. Affection and attention: Dogs thrive on affection and attention from their human family members.
If a dog observes that the baby is receiving a lot of attention from other family members, they may be drawn to the baby in hopes of receiving some of that attention as well.
It’s important to note that while many dogs like babies, not all dogs are naturally comfortable around them.
Some dogs may be fearful or aggressive towards babies due to a lack of socialization or negative experiences.
Always supervise interactions between dogs and babies to ensure the safety and well-being of both.
NOTE – You might also like to read this posting asking the question: Do dogs have a favorite person?
The Similarities Between Dogs and Babies
Now that we’ve discussed dogs’ natural instincts that tell them to protect babies, it is essential to consider just how much dogs and babies have in common.
Although dogs are known as “man’s best friend,” comparing dogs and infants sounds somewhat unrealistic, as they both have so many different traits.
However, despite those differences, dogs, and babies are pretty similar in several ways.
1. Dogs and Babies Need Attention
Perhaps the most basic of all the commonalities, dogs and babies require lots of attention from adult humans.
There are many tasks that young children cannot do by themselves that dogs also cannot do.
These daily activities include feeding themselves, providing fresh water, and cleaning up after themselves.
On top of these fundamental things, babies and dogs both generally need to be constantly looked after.
It is not safe for newborns or dogs to be left alone for too long, as they could hurt themselves or get into something they are not supposed to.
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2. Dogs and Babies Need Playmates
In addition to needing constant attention, dogs and babies are happiest when they have someone to play with.
Stimulating them with entertainment from a playmate is the best way to keep both dogs and babies happy, energized, and sleeping well.
The way adults play with dogs and babies will be very different, but they remain the same in enjoying having company to entertain them.
3. Dogs and Babies Are Innocent
Perhaps the purest aspect that dogs and babies have in common is their charmingly innocent worldview.
It is very easy to make a dog happy, and similarly, infants can be made to smile and laugh easily.
Final Thoughts On Dog’s Gentleness with Babies
Dogs often display gentle and affectionate behavior towards babies due to their social nature, innate curiosity, and attraction to the unique scent of infants.
Additionally, the non-threatening size of babies and the attention they receive from family members contribute to this fondness.
However, it is crucial to remember that not all dogs are comfortable around babies, and their behavior can vary depending on individual temperaments, experiences, and levels of socialization.
To ensure the safety and well-being of both dogs and babies, always closely supervise their interactions and provide a positive, nurturing environment for them to develop a healthy bond.
That’s the end of this post looking at the question: why are dogs gentle with babies?
Thanks for stopping by to visit The Factual Doggo!
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!