will my dog bite my baby

In this episode, we discuss the major signs and warnings that your dog might not take kindly to the presence of another little human being in your family.

Episode Blog Post

Morgan: In the previous post, we asked: what’s the most important single thing I can do to prepare my dog for the arrival of my baby? And Mike really went into this in depth.

It was like: start to think about what your life and your schedule might look like with a baby, on the ground, and what the implications of that are going to be for your dog. And start to make the changes, now, that your dog is going to experience when your baby arrives.

And this week, Mike, we’re going to tackle another question – a big one.

The Major Red Flags

So, to kick this part off: what are some of the warning signs to let me know that I should be concerned? That…Houston, we have a problem.

Mike: There’s quite a few. The obvious one would be that you already know your dog is testy around children. And I actually saw a client just last night around this issue.

She’s due in about 4 months. They’ve got friends with kids, and when they’ve brought the kids over, the dog is a little testy. Not testy, but hesitant – you can tell that she’s hesitant and afraid.

And she’s also kind of clingy, and has issues with separation anxiety – so this is kind of a red flag for jealousy and associated issues.

And, as I was telling them, it can happen right from the beginning. But definitely with a dog like that, when the baby crosses the 8-month threshold – where he or she starts to crawl, and encroach more on the dog, and become more unpredictable – that’s when you tend to have flashpoints.

So, obviously, if your dog is just not into kids, and already nervous around little ones, that’s something you want to start addressing right away. And not to make a shameless plug, but that’s what the two modules of my e-course are all about – because this is such a big deal.

1. Demanding Behaviors

And generally, it’s if you’ve got a dog that is attention-demanding or pushy.

A lot of times, the dynamic is that the dog is kind of the first baby – it’s sort of a dry run.

Women are waiting longer to have kids: you start on a career, and the child conversation comes along when you’re 29, 30, 31, 32. But by that time, the dog has been in the picture for 4, 5, 6 years.

And some dogs become pushy and demanding. Not necessarily in aggressive ways – it might even be in ways that are endearing and cute, as long as there’s not a baby in the picture.

But once a baby gets into the picture, these are some things that we want to consider.

2. Older Dogs and Safe Zones

Another one is – and again, this happened last night – if the dog is a little bit older and has some arthritis issues. So, if dogs are middle-aged and have health concerns that make them feel more vulnerable in the presence of a young one who is going to get increasingly mobile as the dog gets increasingly immobile, that’s another area. There’s a lot of little things like that.

Morgan: And what can you do for an older dog like that? I know you’ve mentioned something like safe zones before.

Mike: Yes – what I recommended to the folks I was speaking to last night is: create a safe zone for your dog where they can get away to.

It shouldn’t be perceived as some kind of place for social isolation or punishment, or anything like that – but just a place the dog knows is safe. It could be behind a baby-gate, or in some kind of pen, or in an extra bedroom, or wherever it is.

But the idea is that the spot is a safe haven. And it depends on the kind of dog, and the layout of your place, but in a perfect world, you can teach your dog to signal you that they want to go there, or they can just let themselves in.

And as the owner of the dog, you want to be sensitive, and read whether the dog is feeling ill at ease or not. And if the dog is feeling ill at ease, then bring them over to that little safe place.

And it should be a really nice, cozy place, where the dog has all its fun things. Feed him bully sticks, raw frozen beef bones, and things like that in there. And just make sure that the dog understands: this is really a great place for me.

For instance, with the people last night – they’ve just moved into a new house, and the dog hasn’t quite figured out where its favorite places are. So I said: “As you live here over the next few weeks, your dog will start to find favorite places. So let your dog find a favorite place, and then build some safety around it.”

So that the dog selected the spot itself – and then build that as a safety zone. So, the dog shouldn’t feel they should have to tolerate everything that comes from a little kid.

Morgan: Yes, that makes sense. OK, what else?

3. Aggression – A Major Red Flag

Mike: Here’s another one: if your dog has issues with object-guarding. If they’re possessive over high-value objects like toys, treats, spots, favorite places – some dogs get defensive over favorite places.

That’s something you want to start dealing with right away. And in my book there’s a series of exercises about how to deal with object-guarding.

There’s a lot of information available, in general, about how to deal with object-guarding – but I have a section in the book specifically filled with exercises for that.

And any kind of possessiveness, obviously, is another issue that we want to address pretty directly. One of the warning signs is if your dog has issues with other domestic pets.

‘The Aim Of Predatory Aggression Is Killing’

One of my big red flags is if your dog has a history of killing things like cats. Not to be gruesome, but it does happen.

Some dogs have a high prey instinct, and have killed domestic pets. To me, that’s a very large red flag – more so than dog-on-dog aggression, by a long shot.

Because this is predatory – and the aim of predatory aggression is killing. So, there’s a level of force, and intensity, and suddenness, that’s just dangerous.

And it’s really something to deal with now. Don’t shove it away and say: “Yes, I know, he killed so-and-so’s cat 3 years ago, but that’s a cat. That’s not going to have any implications for my baby.” Not necessarily – and that’s a red flag, for me.

Morgan: And what about if the dog goes after a squirrel – same thing?

Mike: I’d be less concerned, because it’s outside, not inside. I’m more concerned with domestic animals living in the house – that are part of the household – that the dog knows and killed anyway.

Again, it doesn’t happen that often – but it definitely happens. I’m sure there’s somebody reading right now who has a story about something like that.

So that, to me, is a red flag – when it’s predatory aggression towards something that’s already in the house.

Morgan: Right.

Mike: What else? Anything that lets you know that there are potentially issues. Separation anxiety, and dogs that are emotionally needy.

Since we’re going to be spending less time with the dog, just by necessity, emotional neediness and any traces of separation anxiety need to be dealt with.

Again, in my book, there’s extensive information on how to deal with separation anxiety, as well as on my website – there’s some free information on separation anxiety on my site.

But that can also be a red flag.

4. Distrust Of Strangers

And here’s one other one (and, again these are all issues I’m dealing with right now, with clients): if your dog is excessively aggressive towards strangers coming into the house. It’s an issue if you’re going to have babysitters, caretakers, family, and friends coming by to help out, and your dog is reactive towards them

I just signed up somebody two nights ago whose dog really went after me. So we have to establish a protocol for that dog, because he’s like that with anybody that comes in the house – and it takes him 20 or 30 minutes to get used to it.

Morgan: Wow.

Mike: And I had a very severe case, years ago, where the client’s Dobermann viciously attacked the babysitter – and it ended up costing them the dog. They had to put the dog down, because it was a very vicious attack.

And all that had happened was that they had let the woman in – it was the babysitter’s first day on the job – and Mom, babysitter and dog walked into the nursery to say hi to the baby. And then Mom excused herself for a second, to get the babysitter a glass of water.

And the second Mom left the room, the dog went after this woman. Not to be too gruesome, but he practically tore her breast off – he just went right for her chest.

Morgan: Wow, Jeez.

Mike: It was very, very bad. So, if your dog has that kind of overbearing aggression towards strangers, that’s also a very big red flag.

You’re not going to be able to have help come in, you’re not going to have other people’s kids come in, etcetera. So those are some big ones, right there.

Morgan: Definitely, those are big!

Mike: And each one of them has a whole set of appropriate preparation and responses. That’s all that comes to mind at the moment. I’m sure if I scratch my head a little longer, I’ll come up with a few more. But those are the biggest and most common ones, right there.

What Should You Do?

Morgan: That’s super. Everyone, now you have at least a general sense of some of the red flags – the warning signals that you need to be aware of.

If your dog is presenting or exhibiting any of these behaviors, then you can’t take this for granted.

You should start to work with someone like Mike – or Mike – directly, or get Mike’s book, or take his course. Because his entire course deals with this directly.

So, I think that’s a good place to wrap it up, Mike. We’ve gone into the topic and highlighted the main issues.

Everyone, if you want to follow up on this, Mike’s website is And on the website, you can check out the book, you can check out the course, or just check out the blog – there’s lots of free information on there.

Check out this podcast, too, because we’re going to be publishing it weekly, and it’s going to have information on all of this.

In the beginning we’re covering the broad panorama of preparing your dog for your baby, and we’re hitting all the high-level stuff that you need to be aware of.

But if you want to go deeper, I definitely recommend you get the book, or you get the course – and you can do that over at

Mike, do you have any closing remarks? Anything else you want to put an exclamation mark on, or anything else you want to add?

Mike: Really just the same admonition that I often give, which is: it might be that you bring your baby home and your dog is just fine, even though the red flags are there. But you get one run at this.

So, I encourage people to think through these things very carefully, and not just make the off-the-cuff assumption: “Oh, my dog will be fine.” Because this is where all the problems arise from.

So, you might do a bunch of prep work, and it turns out you didn’t necessarily need to, but hey – better safe than sorry. Because, like I said, you get one chance at this.

And here’s what often happens: the baby becomes eight months old and starts crawling. Now the dog is uneasy – and even a little lip-curl, a little snarl, a little growl, and you’re going to be in a very bad position.

You’re going to not feel good about having your dog around your baby. And by then, your options are really limited – because the time for the things we’re talking about is over.

So, I just encourage people, always – regardless of what situation they’re in with their dog – to err on the side of caution. Because you only get one run at this.

Morgan: Mike, thanks a lot. So, next week, we’re going to address another question. “I’m due in three weeks and had not even thought about my dog – is it too late to get her ready?”

Listen to the next episode: Is It Too Late To Prepare My Dog For My Baby?

> Listen to the previous episode: What’s The Most Important Thing I Should Do To Prepare My Dog For My Baby?



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