Dogs are generally protective by nature, we see this in their territorial traits and as well as when the doorbell rings out of the blue. However, why is it that dogs become so protective of babies, especially when it is a new, foreign little person in their house? Do they understand what a baby is? Or is there something larger at work here? Dogs have great relationships with children and are often protective of them, so it comes as no surprise that they are just as protective of babies, if not more. This is definitely a behavioral trait that needs to be looked at a bit more closely.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs have this instinctual behavior to protect people within their pack or family. However, there is typically more to it than that. Dogs are derived from wolves that lived their lives according to a social hierarchy. This means that there is a top dog all the way down to the weakest dog. The stronger dogs protect the weaker dogs. With that being said, your dog may get overprotective because he views the baby as the weaker dog that he has to protect from harm. New people or animals in the house may set off his or her protective mode and your dog may try to guard the baby against intruders. In some aspects this is nice, however, if you are trying to show off your new bundle of joy to your Aunt Trudy, this can be quite a nuisance.
Another root cause of this behavior is that some dogs are bred with protective characteristic traits. Take for example a Sheepdog, this type of dog is bred to protect the sheep and herd them together in an event of danger. A dog like this would not let a young baby or child be lost or left behind. Sometimes it is just your dog's temperament. However, keep in mind that if your dog is naturally timid or fearful, although he or she may go into protective mode, they usually do not make good guard dogs because they may lash out in fear. Whether it is instincts, breeding, or your dog’s personality, there are pros and cons to your dog being protective of your baby. It is perfectly normal for your dog to assert some protectiveness over the newborn, however, if he or she is overly protective, it might be time to look into how you can encourage more appropriate behavior in your dog.
Encouraging the Behavior
As social creatures, dogs can be quite territorial and may exhibit some unwanted behaviors when you bring your new baby home. The two biggest issues are being overly protective and too affectionate. The best thing you can start doing is preparing your dog for changes before the baby arrives. Begin with socializing your dog more as this will help him or her not to be so territorial and protective. Be sure to address any behavioral issues before baby arrives and work on any training that needs to be done. Also, when you do bring baby home, let your dog smell one of the blankets. Do not let him use it as a play toy or chew device, but gently let him smell the blanket and get used to the smell of a baby. Gradually introduce your dog so that the baby and your dog get familiar with each other. Be sure your home has a dog zone and a baby zone. Use gates to make sure each one is safe. Never leave your baby alone with your dog. By creating these zones, your dog will have a place to retreat to, as well as having clear boundaries when it comes to the baby. Be sure to seek professional help if you do see aggressive behaviors in your dog toward family members or the baby.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Your dog may exhibit signs of over-protectiveness towards your new baby. However, if you train, socialize, and have patience with your dog, this will remedy some of this situation. Also, you should always keep in mind this is just your dog’s nature and have patience when training him to not be so protective.