Do Dogs Know What Babies Are?

By Aviram K.
February 14, 2021
2 min read
Do Dogs Know What Babies Are?

If you have a dog and a baby, there’s a high chance that you noticed your dog acting a bit differently around the baby. Most dogs seem to act more gently and nurturing towards babies.

Do they really know babies are tiny humans in need of care and protection? Do they know this instinctively?

Whether dogs know babies are tiny versions of adult humans is unclear. Still, most dogs recognize that babies are helpless juvenile beings in need of protection. Dogs can learn this from watching how humans behave and interact with and around the baby. Humans also naturally reinforce dogs’ calm and protective behavior around babies and scold them when they are aggressive. Don’t leave your baby alone with the dog, though.

There are many things dogs know and don’t know about human babies. Let’s see what they are.

What Dogs Know About Human Babies

Dogs are smart enough to recognize many patterns. Babies behave differently to adult humans, and dogs can see that:

  • Babies are loud. Unpleasant for both humans and dogs alike.
  • Babies cause tension. Dogs can recognize that whenever a baby is screaming, humans get upset and tense. Most dogs try to help but don’t know how.
  • Babies take away attention from dogs. Babies demand a lot of time and resources from humans. Dogs can notice that things are not the same with babies around.
  • Babies can break the rules. They cry and scream when corrected. Dogs try to correct babies’ behaviors like they do with puppies but don’t get why they are punished for doing it.
  • Babies are nosey and don’t respect personal space. They can intrude on dogs’ personal space, which dogs can notice.
  • Babies poo in diapers. Dogs’ natural instinct is to eat their puppies’ poo to clean up the nest. For that reason, many dogs try to eat dirty baby diapers.
  • Babies smell like adult humans.

What Dogs Don’t Know About Human Babies

Dogs also can’t know many things about babies. Here are things dogs probably don’t get instinctively:

  • Babies are very valuable to humans. Dogs can’t know that a single human baby is much more valuable in terms of resources spent than a single puppy. On average, a dog has five to six puppies in a litter while humans only have one.
  • Babies need protection. Dogs don’t know this instinctively. They are just very good readers of humans’ emotions and expressions. They can see that babies are important to the humans in their social group. They then understand this and try to be protective of the baby themselves.
  • Babies are very fragile. Dogs nip at each other regularly, especially puppies. However, they can’t know that even a tiny nip can injure a baby.

Your dog can’t instinctively know some of these things that we consider fundamental as humans. For that reason, as much as your dog seems good around your baby, you shouldn’t leave your baby unattended with him.

Even if your dog doesn’t mean to hurt the baby, it’s still possible that he’ll cause harm. Some dogs are made anxious by babies’ erratic movements and can snap or bite out of fear.

Teach your dog to be good and gentle with your baby from the very beginning. You can do this by staying calm and protective around your baby and engaging in frequent and early socialization with your dog.

If you feel that you need any help with the dog, please, call a professional dog trainer to help you out.


BabiesDog Cognition

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Aviram K.

Aviram K.

Dog Behaviorist & Trainer

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