Images of babies and dogs appear daily on our Facebook feeds and have everyone cooing and sharing them. Dogs and babies just go together.
Even before our daughter was born, I couldn’t wait to introduce her to the four-legged members of the family. And, like a lot of families, I trusted my dogs implicitly. Despite this trust, I understood they were still animals and never left them alone with my baby or my now toddler.
However, canine behaviour specialist and former air force police dog handler, Grant Teeboon, said social media and the obsession with memes of dogs with babies is a recipe for disaster.
“Canine behaviour experts are concerned because many of these clips and pictures show dogs that are clearly stressed and bordering on aggressively reactive towards the child. Parents are playing Russian Roulette with their newborns,” he said.
“Parents need to be warned that the trusted family dog can bite a child in a fraction of a second and the consequences of such a bite can be life-changing.”
View this post on Instagram
Teeboon said people all too often over humanise dogs and forget they are an animal and that it doesn’t take much for them to revert to their undomesticated nature.
“We judge the dog more as a human than a dog and this is putting babies at risk. We don’t do the dog any favours by treating it like a human,” Teeboon said.
“With the increase in positive-only dog training, it increases the number of people who will be bitten. Without using punishment or correction it takes away our ability to clearly identify unacceptable behaviour to dogs.”
He said dogs show submission by lowering their bodies down to the ground and then by rolling onto their backs and showing their stomachs.