Many of us feel our family isn’t complete without a dog. That being said, not all dogs and babies mix.
Some canines don’t have the temperament to cope with the antics of small children, while others just plain get too excited to handle themselves. Despite the potential hazards, however, there are also plenty of success stories out there about people who manage to integrate dogs into families with babies (or vice versa) with no problems at all.
The most important rule to remember when you have young children and dogs in the same household is this: never leave them alone together unsupervised. Not even for a minute. Not even for a second.
If you need to use the bathroom or answer the phone, bring one of them with you. It doesn’t matter how much you trust your dog with your kids; the time when your back is turned is the most likely moment for an accident to occur. Minimize the risk of your dog harming your kids, or vice versa, by observing this rule.
Traits to Look for in the Best Dogs for Babies
There are a number of traits that the best dogs for babies typically demonstrate. The dog breeds on this list tend to demonstrate these traits, but every dog is an individual and breeding isn’t necessarily destiny. Furthermore, the best dogs for babies don’t necessarily come with a pedigree; mixed breed dogs are just as likely to demonstrate these traits and have just as much love to give to your family, including your baby.
Whether you’re willing to adopt a mutt or have your heart set on a pure breed, here are the qualities to look for:
- Tolerance: The dog should be willing to put up with whatever treatment a baby or toddler may put them through.
- Gentleness: Look for a dog that’s not inclined to play rough.
- Obedience: You must be able to control your dog while holding your baby, so ensure obedience to verbal commands
- Calmness: A boisterous, hyperactive dog is more likely to cause unintentional injuries.
The Best Dog Breeds for Babies
Remember that the individual temperament and personality of the dog is much more important than the breed. With that in mind, however, the following breeds have a proven track record of interacting well with babies and young children, and narrowing your search to these breeds may help improve your chances of finding a dog that will be a good fit for your family.
Large Dog Breeds:
- American Foxhound
- Airedale Terrier
- Irish Setter
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
Medium Dog Breeds:
- Basset Hound
- Bull Terrier
- Australian Shepherd
Small Dog Breeds:
- Boston Terrier
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Bichon Frise
- Scottish Terrier
Important Safety Tips
You already know the most important safety tip for allowing your dog to interact safely with your baby: never leave the two of them alone together. However, there are other important safety rules you should establish as soon as possible and enforce consistently in order to prevent your child and your dog from injuring each other.
1. Set Boundaries
It’s a good idea to establish certain areas, like your child’s bedroom, where your dog is never allowed to go. It may also be a good idea to establish dog-only zones where your baby is not allowed. Baby gates can be effective at setting boundaries for child and canine alike.
2. Provide an Exit
If a dog feels cornered by a child with no means of escape, it can feel trapped. Without a flight option available, a dog is more likely to indulge its fight instinct. You can prevent matters from escalating to that point by ensuring your dog always has a way to exit a stressful situation.
3. Recognize Warning Signs
Your dog typically gives off some recognizable signals when stressed and ready to attack. Some of these include averting its head, rolling its eyes, and stiffening its body. Learn to recognize these signs and act quickly if you spot them.
4. Avoid Face-to-Face Contact
Not only does this put your child within easy reach of your dogs jaws, but canines may misinterpret this behavior as a challenge.
With constant vigilance, you can create a peaceable kingdom within your home in which dog and baby not only coexist but eventually become best friends.