Babies are fragile bundles of life.
But you wouldn’t expect a fur baby to know that.
So when Fido treats a newborn so gently…
You can’t help but wonder in amazement:
“Why are dogs so careful with babies?”
Keep reading to find out:
- 7 amazing reasons why dogs are gentle with infants.
- Alarming signs that Fido is too protective around babies.
- Fun facts about dogs and their relationship with newborns.
- Surprising truth behind your furry friend’s gentleness (#5 is a must-read.)
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
Why are dogs gentle with babies? 7 reasons
#1: Pack instincts
Fun fact: Wolves treat their pack members like family.
And many domestic dogs exhibit the same behavior with their humans.
“But why would dogs behave that way with babies?”
For you to understand, let me share how wolves treat their young.
According to wolf experts:
All members of a pack take care of newborns.
In fact, wolves even work together to feed the pups.
With that, the mother wolf doesn’t need to leave their den. So she can focus on her little ones.
That being said…
If there are babies at home, your dog may see them as part of the ‘pack.’
Then, Fido’s instincts kick in.
And they can’t help but be gentle around the infant.
Now, these facts dispute a popular belief about dogs.
So let me address it to clear any confusion.
To be specific, I’m talking about:
The alpha theory
Basically, it implies that wolves often fight each other.
And these wild animals do it to be the ‘pack leader.’
But according to scientific discoveries…
The alpha theory has been debunked.
This means canines don’t fight to be a leader.
And the truth is, they’re usually gentle with pack members.
Just like how families work.
#2: It’s in their DNA
As humans domesticated canines…
We also trained them to do different jobs.
Just like herding.
And here are some dog breeds who do that:
- Border Collies.
- Great Pyrenees.
- German Shepherds.
- Australian Shepherds.
- Old English Sheepdogs.
Now, herding puts Fido in charge of other animals.
And to do their job properly, these dogs need to stay focused.
Otherwise, the herd would be at risk of getting lost.
Or being attacked by wild creatures.
That said, science claims…
Herding instincts stay in your dog’s DNA
Thus, you might find your pup ‘protecting’ babies.
Especially when the child is near the stairs or a door.
See this cute video, for example:
Now, that seems like Fido’s being gentle with the kid.
But to some dogs, it’s also their way of ‘herding’ babies.
And they do it as if to say:
“It’s not safe there, you smol hooman. So just stay by my side.”
At first, these gentle acts start off wholesome.
But this might change later on.
You see, AKC warns that herding instincts can be a problem without proper training.
Meaning Fido could lose self-control.
As a result…
Dogs with strong herding drive may chase anything that moves
And this might include:
- Any kids.
- Other animals.
Now, this behavior could lead to accidental bites.
Or Fido might get into fights with other animals too.
So, no matter how gentle your dog can be around babies…
You should still properly train your dog. Especially if they’re a herding breed.
Otherwise, their habit could turn risky.
#3: Their senses
Fun fact: Science says Fido can catch your emotions.
That said, how do you feel when you’re around babies?
While some of you might be overjoyed…
Others could be a little nervous.
Either way, your furry friend would notice your feelings.
That said, AKC states your emotions influence the way dogs react to newborns.
For example, if you feel safe around the baby…
Or express a desire to protect the child, Fido will catch that from you.
Then, your pooch follows your feelings. Which is why they’re gentle around infants.
That aside, you might be curious:
“How can my dog do this?”
First, your body releases pheromones.
These are chemicals Fido can smell.
But the thing is, the scent changes based on your feelings.
That’s how your pup can sniff your various emotions.
“It sounds like dogs have superpowers.”
With Fido’s nose, absolutely.
Vets say they have 100 million scent receptors after all.
Meanwhile, science says hoomans only have 400.
With this great difference, it’s no surprise dogs can smell things that we can’t.
Anyways, you might also wonder:
“Do canines like the scent of babies?”
Yes, they do.
But not in the way some people may think.
Dogs don’t smell babies because they want to bite them or such.
Instead, experts at the AKC explain:
Fido only sniffs newborns out of curiosity. And they’re checking if the baby’s healthy or not. It’s something mother dogs do with their pups to ensure their well-being.
You see, a dog’s nose can also smell diseases. Such as COVID-19 for example.
So, if your furry friend won’t stop sniffing a newborn…
It won’t hurt to have the baby’s health checked, just in case.
#4: They have empathy
Thanks to Fido’s powerful senses…
They also have high empathy. Especially for humans.
In fact, researchers found:
Dogs show signs of distress when babies cry. Plus, Fido’s stress hormones go up too.
That said, here’s what another study discovered.
Canines were tested to see how they’ll react to crying vs humming.
And here are the results:
- Dogs were more prone to approach someone who’s crying.
- Even if it’s a stranger, Fido would still comfort the distressed person.
This concludes that pups comfort you when you’re sad.
And they do this out of empathy…
Not just because Fido thinks you’ll reward them for doing so.
That’s why your furry friend may show their care for babies.
Especially when an infant is crying.
#5: Possessive behavior
Now, not to be a killjoy…
But the truth is, some pups can be possessive.
In fact, vets say that nature is genetic in dogs. Meaning many Fidos can’t avoid it.
Plus, this instinct may be stronger in some canines.
That said, dogs with possessive behavior may act overprotective. Especially around babies.
And you might mistake it for gentleness at first.
But experts warn you how Fido’s behavior could turn alarming.
That’s because their possessive nature may cause dogs to:
- Be evasive.
- Eat too fast.
- Have anxiety.
- Guard resources.
- Swallow non-food items.
- Show aggressive behavior.
So before Fido’s ‘protective’ act turns into the opposite…
You should take action by guiding your pooch.
For that, you can follow these simple tips:
- Learn the right training methods.
- Contact a professional trainer for help.
- Don’t reward their possessive behavior (with treats or petting).
Related topic: 19 Signs Your Dog Is Protective Over You (Check Out #7)
So far, you’ve read how training is vital for dogs.
Especially when it comes to their relationship with babies.
And now, let me further explain why.
You see, properly socialized pups have confidence.
Meanwhile, PetMD mentions:
Fidos without social skills tend to be fearful. Moreso when facing new situations.
Such as meeting babies.
That said, vets also say:
Dogs who aren’t used to newborns may feel confused. Or even get intimidated by babies.
And that scenario could scare Fido away.
Which may trigger social anxiety in canines.
If this happens, experts state Fido might react by:
- Being destructive.
- Barking too much.
- Suddenly peeing in the house.
These things could affect a dog’s bond with babies.
But if your furry friend’s trained for social situations…
Chances are, they’ll stay calm around newborns.
And with that, Fido can show their gentle side to the baby.
#7: Maternal instincts
For fur parents with female doggos…
Fido’s gentle behavior around babies could be due to her:
Basically, her motherly side takes over if there’s an infant.
That said, you might question…
“How do dogs know they should be gentle with newborns?”
Science has an answer for that.
You see, dogs are born blind and deaf.
As a result, puppies rely on their mom for everything. Until they’re big enough to open their eyes or ears.
With this, canines know how vulnerable newborns are.
Thus, they’ll treat babies with utmost care.
Now, Fido’s maternal instinct isn’t limited to fellow canines. Or with little human babies.
In fact, experts say:
Dogs adopt other animals
A good example of this is when Fido raises kittens.
And some mother doggos even let young cats drink milk from her too.
After all, she knows that newborns need all help they can get.
That said, check out this news report.
Years ago at a rural Kansas zoo…
A Golden Retriever named Isabella raised 3 white tiger cubs.
She didn’t question their differences.
Instead, the pooch just let her maternal instincts take over.
So she continued taking care of the baby tigers.
Thanks to her motherly love, those young felines grew up happy.
And according to the zoo keepers:
The 3 tigers loved Isabella like a mom.
That’s how gentle dogs can be to other babies. Not just hooman infants.
“Wait, what if my pup has never been pregnant?”
And I have an interesting answer for it.
Based on studies, dogs can go through pseudopregnancy.
That means Fido might think they’re going to be a mom. Even if they haven’t mated with others recently.
When this happens, vets say female dogs may do things like:
- Being restless.
- Go into false labor.
- Sudden aggression.
- Sleeping more than usual.
- Show possessive behavior.
These symptoms show how female Fidos suddenly act motherly.
And that’s why they also behave like one around newborns.
But don’t worry. Experts say this condition should go away within 14-21 days.
Though, if Fido is still showing issues like:
- Physical illness.
- Stress or anxiety.
- Alarming behavioral changes.
Bring her to a vet for safety.
You might be interested in: 13 Things You Can Expect From A Female Dog After Mating
BONUS: They’re copying you
Some dogs are copycats, experts say.
So, aside from picking up your emotions…
Your furry friend may imitate your habits too.
And that includes the way you handle babies.
If Fido has seen you being gentle with an infant…
They’ll remember it and copy your actions.
Such as cuddling up the baby. Or gazing lovingly at the child.
“But how can dogs do that?”
First, canines are a lot smarter than we think.
In fact, Dr. Coren says Fidos have the same intelligence as 2-year-old kids.
That aside, researchers also add:
Dogs have declarative memory.
This means they have the ability to remember your actions.
Even after a short time has passed.
In conclusion, dogs copy you because they want to.
And not out of pressure. Or they think you’ll reward them for it.
With that, you can say Fido learned to be gentle with babies.
Because you showed them how to do so.