Is a Dog’s Love for a Newborn Obsession or Protection?

Discover how to prevent a dog from becoming obsessed with a newborn baby. Learn about the difference between obsession and protection in dogs, and how proper training and management can ensure a safe and loving relationship.

Is a Dog’s Love for a Newborn Obsession or Protection?

Discover how to prevent a dog from becoming obsessed with a newborn baby. Learn about the difference between obsession and protection in dogs, and how proper training and management can ensure a safe and loving relationship.

A happy baby snuggled up in bed with its two loyal and protective canine companions.

Photo by Sarah Chai

Dogs have been known to be man's best friend for centuries. They are loyal companions, protectors, and members of the family. However, when a new baby arrives, a dog's behavior can change dramatically. Some dogs may become obsessed with the newborn, following them everywhere they go, while others may seem indifferent. The question is, is a dog's intense interest in a newborn an obsession or a form of protection?

Why Do Dogs Go Crazy Around Babies?

Dogs have a natural instinct to protect their family, whether it's from other animals or potential dangers. This instinct is ingrained in their DNA, dating back to their days as wild animals. In the past, dogs were responsible for guarding their pack, and this instinct has not disappeared. In a family setting, a dog sees its human family members as its pack, and therefore, feels a need to protect them.

A dog's role as a protector in the family dynamic is vital, and the bond between a dog and its family is unbreakable. Research has shown that dogs perceive and respond to newborns in a different way than they do to adults. They have an innate ability to sense when a newborn is vulnerable, and this triggers their protective instincts.

Obsession vs. Protection

It's essential to understand the difference between a dog's obsession and its protective behavior. A dog's obsession with a baby can be dangerous and must be addressed immediately. In contrast, protective behavior in dogs is natural and should be encouraged as it keeps the baby safe.

Obsessive Behavior

When a dog becomes overly fixated on a newborn, it can be a sign of obsessive behavior. There are many ways in which this kind of behavior can show up, including:

  • Constant barking, whining, or following the baby around relentlessly.
  • This type of behavior can be stressful for the new parents and can even put the safety of the baby at risk.

Dog owners should address obsessive behavior immediately to prevent it from becoming a habit. Some ways to do this include:

  • Redirecting the dog's attention to other activities or toys, helping the dog to focus on something else and ease its fixation on the baby.
  • Positive reinforcement training, rewarding the dog for good behavior and ignoring or correcting negative behavior.
  • Understanding that obsessive behavior may be a sign of anxiety or stress, so addressing the underlying issue may be necessary.

It's crucial for new parents to address any obsessive behavior in a timely manner, to ensure the safety and well-being of both the baby and the dog.

Obsessive behavior corrected: Mother signals to the dog not to jump up.

Photo by Sarah Chai

Protective Behavior

A dog's natural instinct is to protect a young child. This is evident in the following ways:

  • Standing guard over the baby and watching over it attentively.
  • Being more alert and responsive to potential threats or dangers in the environment.
  • Becoming more affectionate and protective of the baby.

This type of behavior is not only natural but also beneficial for the family's safety. A dog's protective instincts can act as an extra layer of security and peace of mind for new parents.

To encourage and support a dog's protective behavior, new parents can:

  • Provide the dog with obedience training, to help them respond effectively to commands and cues.
  • Include the dog in baby-related activities and allow them to get familiar with the baby's scent and presence.
  • Give the dog a specific spot near the baby's crib or play area, where they can keep a watchful eye.

The protective behavior of a dog is different from aggression, as new parents must realize. Dogs won't hurt a child unless they feel a genuine threat. In order to ensure that the dog's protective behavior is channeled in a positive and secure way, it is crucial to provide the necessary training and guidance.

Can Dogs Like Newborn Babies Too Much?

While a dog's love and protective instincts towards a newborn can be heartwarming, it's important to understand that there can be such a thing as too much affection. A dog that becomes overly fixated with a baby can pose a risk to the child's safety.

Signs of a dog obsessing over newborn too much may include:

  • Constant following or staring at the baby
  • Attempting to lie on top of or close to the baby
  • Becoming agitated or protective when the baby is being held or cared for by someone else
  • Becoming possessive of the baby and showing aggression towards others.

Keep in mind that dogs can be unpredictable and that interactions between dogs and young children should always be closely monitored.

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Training and Management

Training and management are essential when it comes to a dog's behavior around a newborn. Here are some tips and techniques to help train a dog to be comfortable around a newborn:

  • Start by introducing the dog to the baby's scent before the baby arrives. You can do this by using a blanket or clothing that the baby has used.
  • Gradually introduce the dog to the baby, starting with short visits and gradually increasing the time.
  • Reward the dog for calm behavior around the baby, such as staying in a designated spot or lying down.
  • To promote good behavior, use positive reinforcement techniques like rewards and compliments.

It's essential to manage a dog's behavior around a newborn to ensure safety. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Always supervise interactions between the dog and the baby.
  • Keep the baby's room off-limits to the dog until it has learned to behave appropriately.
  • Use baby gates or crates to keep the dog away from the baby when you can't supervise.
  • Avoid leaving the baby and the dog alone together.
Introducing the newest member of the pack: Baby and dog forming a healthy bond.

Photo by Sarah Chai

Final Thoughts

A dog's love for a newborn can be both beautiful and challenging. It's essential to understand the difference between a dog's obsession and its protective behavior. Proper training and management are crucial in helping a dog adapt to the arrival of a new baby.

Remember that a dog's behavior is natural, and it's not a reflection of its love for the family. A dog's protective instincts are a vital part of the family dynamic, and its love for the newborn is unconditional. As new parents, it's vital to understand and appreciate a dog's role in the family, and to provide the necessary guidance and support to ensure the safety and well-being of both the baby and the dog.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Louise Fiolek


(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)