Can Dogs Tell Babies are Babies?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 15 April 2021

Can dogs tell babies are babies?

If you’re a dog owner who is expecting a baby, you may be wondering how your canine companion will react to the new arrival.

There are a number of ways that you can prepare your dog for the new addition to your family home, promoting the chances of a smooth introduction.

You’re probably curious to whether your dog will be able to tell your baby apart from older children and adults.

We asked five experts, ranging from professional dog trainers to veterinarians, whether dogs are able to tell that babies are babies.

Dogs Are Aware Of Their Size

Jen Jones, Founder Of Your Dog Advisor

Many of us who have been around dogs and babies have noticed that dogs seem to treat babies differently than adults and older children.

They are often more gentle, curious, and protective of infants. While dogs likely don’t know a baby is a baby they are aware that babies are small, fragile, vulnerable and helpless.

In fact, many dogs will be found mothering babies in the same way dogs would mother puppies.

This does lead to a theory that, while we can’t say for sure what dogs know, we can say they know something is special about a human baby in our home.

Baby crawls to Frenchie (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Baby crawls to Frenchie (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Anecdotal Evidence Exists

Maureen Murithi DVM, Registered Veterinarian And Team Vet Of SpiritDog Training

There is no scientific evidence to show if dogs can tell apart a baby from an adult but anecdotal evidence exists.

It’s common to see dogs being more gentle, protective, show more interest, or bark/whine when you take the baby away.

Reasons for such behavior according to experts is that dogs can tell there is a size difference between adults and babies as well the scent from babies being different from that of adults.

Some of the senses exhibited by dogs include:

• Tail wagging
• Barking/whining
• Raised ears when they hear a baby coo
• Whimpering
• Staying close to the baby
• Excessive sniffing
• Excited behaviour

Dogs Can Sense, Smell And See Toddlers

Tammi Avallone, Managing Editor Of Five Barks

Dogs can sense, smell, and see toddlers, but they have no idea what they are, so it’s surprising that they perceive them differently than adults. Though your dog might not be interested in adults, you may find that your dog is very fond of infants.

There is no scientific justification for this, but researchers say it is because they can smell the distinction between adults and infants. Dogs always wag their tails when they see a newborn or a stroller, regardless of the cause.

You may have already found that anytime an infant cries or coos, the dog’s ears perk up.

Furthermore, keeping the baby away from your dog might cause it to whine or bark at you.

Whatever motivates dogs to be interested in infants, it is your responsibility as a dog owner to ensure that both babies and small children are healthy in the presence of your dog.

This ensures you’ll need to teach your dog how to behave with children and keep a careful eye on any interactions.

Baby chills with Siberian Husky (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Baby chills with Siberian Husky (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Dogs Are Very Intuitive

Amber LaRock, Licensed Vet Tech And Veterinary Consultant At

Our canine friends are very intuitive, leading many to wonder if they can understand that babies are babies. Many dogs behave differently when in the presence of human or animal babies, leading experts to believe that some dogs may pick up on their vulnerability. Some dogs may know that babies are babies, and automatically approach them as such.

There is no way to know for sure, but it’s best to always practice proper introduction methods to be safe. Even if a dog can understand that a baby is a baby, that does not mean they will automatically tolerate them. Be sure to introduce them slowly, monitor their interactions, and refrain from ever leaving your dog alone with a baby.

Dogs Can Sense Babies Need Care And Attention

Sara Ochoa, DVM Veterinary Consultant for

Dogs can easily tell that babies are babies. Not only their size they can sense that these babies need more care and attention. Many dogs will become very protective over new babies and claim them as their own.

My dog loves babies under a year. Once they can start walking and talking she is done with them until they are teenagers.

She is very good a picking up on how old children are and if they are going to be calm and quiet or loud and noisy.

When my niece was young, my dog would sit and watch her, and as soon as she would wake up would come to find an adult to let them know.

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