Dogs and kids – what could go wrong?

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Dear Labby_oldDear Labby,

We adopted a border collie/australian shepherd mix a few years ago and she is as sweet as can be. Our problems started when our daughter was born. At first, Blu was totally in love with the baby and slept by her, protected her, watched over her. But now that the baby is up and walking, we can see that Blu is getting more and more anxious and uncomfortable with some of the baby’s behaviors and interactions with her. We know we need some guidance, but aren’t sure where to go. Can you help us Dear Labby?


Our two girls walking on the beach.

Protective Parents


Dear Parents,

You are right to be concerned and to seek professional help for the situation. You have a responsibility to protect your child from the dog and the dog from your child. Education is critical and you must teach your child the proper way to interact with your dog and with every dog she meets as they all have different personalities and different tolerance levels.

Border Collies/Aussies are both intelligent breeds with a high energy level. They are working dogs, used to being mentally and physically stimulated and challenged every day. Without that outlet, they may become bored, anxious and susceptible to undesirable behaviors. They are typically dogs that require much time and attention – they are worth it as they can be great pets, but you should recognize they need several hours of your times each day for proper care.

We recommend that you contact a local trainer and ask for guidance as quickly as you can. A good resource for families with children and dogs is Family Paws, an organization dedicated to promoting safety for families with dogs. They have a list of resources on their site, including webinars and other reading materials which I’m sure will be of help to you. They also offer a Find A Trainer service, that will help you locate an experienced trainer in your area, one with experience working with dogs and children.

One of the more critical areas of education is in reading your dogs body language and removing the child or the dog from the situation before it escalates and teaching your child proper dog interactions. There are lots of new and very useful resources to take advantage of to help learn about and understand your dog:

There’s also several great infographics available – here’s two of our favorites from Dr. Sophia Yin, read them – study them. There is also a new app called Dog Decoder that we will review next week.

kidsanddogscreen kidsandpets-resized-600.JPG
Good luck, and please keep us posted how it goes.





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  1. Gotta love Sophia Yin infographics. 🙂 It can be a difficult transition having a child on top of a dog, but that’s part of life. Have a great weekend ahead!
    weliveinaflat recently posted…Photographing dogs: NomadRuss Ten Tips Reinvented!My Profile

  2. Great topic and infographics! So many people don’t know how to handle this one (I see way too many photos of dogs and kids on FB that make me cringe) and you responded beautifully.
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…Love My Dog Amethyst Crystal Bracelet #GiveawayMy Profile

    • Those dogs & kids videos I see make me cringe. No wonder dog bite frequency has steadily climbed over the years.
      mkob recently posted…Dogs and kids – what could go wrong?My Profile

  3. Good advice. Our neighbors have a six month old baby and two dogs but the one dog does not like the baby at all. They have hired a dog trainer that comes to their house once a week to work on the situation. It seems to be helping.
    emma recently posted…Track Your Pet’s Life with The Petter | GBGVMy Profile

  4. Our housemates had a baby a few months ago and my dog Pierson, who is also an Aussie/BC mix, is scared of him. There isn’t much interaction between the baby and Pierson because our housemates have a section of the house all to themselves, but if my husband and I had a baby I’d know we will really need to work with Pierson’s anxiety about small children.
    Dawn recently posted…Pet Auto Safety Barks and Bytes #3My Profile

    • Glad you recognize it, so many parents just think it will resolve itself and don’t take proper precautions for their children or the dog.
      mkob recently posted…Dogs and kids – what could go wrong?My Profile

  5. Very important topic for sure!!!
    And a lot of people don’t realize that as much teaching goes into one as the other……as in, you have to train the child how to act with the dog as much as training the dog to be gentle with the child. Its a 2 way street! And its also very important to make sure when you see your dogs getting annoyed, to give them their own space to just “chill” for a while. Baby gates work great in my house for that reason. The dogs will just jump over the gate and go in the kitchen if they want their space.
    Great post!!
    ((Husky hugz))
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Its Thoughtless Thursday !My Profile

  6. We got our first Aussie pup when I was pregnant with our first child. From the time she – and the subsequent two – were even remotely mobile, we were working on their skills with animals. “Nice, nice” was heard all the time, with soft petting being encouraged. Just like we trained the kids in everything else – breakables, eating, potty, interacting with other people – we trained them to interact with all of our pets. Even now, as teens and nearly adults, they treat people gently and with respect, as well as animals. I think having babies and pets together can be one of the best experiences you can give a child.
    Flea recently posted…Giveaway! Darla Jane’s AccessoriesMy Profile

  7. Dogs and kids can be best friends but when they start moving around, it makes the dog nervous. Those first steps make parents nervous too. We raised our babies with two German Shepherds and they all loved each other. It’s all about letting the dogs and kids know the limits with one another.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Awards and ReunionsMy Profile

  8. Thanks so much for joining Thursday’s Barks and Bytes blog hop. Great advice you gave there. Like Sue I see so many videos and photos of children and dogs that make me cringe. It is so important to teach children the right way to interact with animals and sometimes we don’t know the right way and need to seek advice from professionals.
    Jodi recently posted…For Love of a DogMy Profile

  9. Hi Y’all!

    Great information. I’m sure it will be helpful to many young couples with or considering a pet and a child.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Here’s Barkin’ at Y’all!My Profile

  10. Thanks so much for joining Barks and Bytes. I think Labby’s advice is spot on. It is a good idea to seek the help of a trainer. I also really like those graphics. They are great.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Random StuffMy Profile

  11. Remember also that they are herding breeds. They are going to want to control her movement. And right now, she probably doesn’t know what to do about it, what the boundaries are, etc… So she gets anxious when your baby moves.

    Aussies are also guarding dogs along the lines of Dobermans and Rottweilers. They were ranch nannies when they weren’t out herding cattle (and that was less than sixty years ago for most dogs). But they, and you, need training to learn how to direct that instinct to protect a now mobile baby. The anxiety is going to rise again when the baby is frustrated or hurt and crying. Aussies want to fix the situation and need to learn how to help in an appropriate manner.

    You got some good places to start, but here is another link to aussie-specific information that can help provide some insight into your dog too:

  12. Great post and information. Love the info graphic.
    joann stancer recently posted…The Queen Of Hearts Dance~ Stanzie Is Gman’s QueenMy Profile

  13. Some valuable information shared on this post. Thank you so much for putting it out there.
    Cathy recently posted…WHERE’S WILSON?My Profile

  14. Really great insight within the infographic! Very helpful! I found the body language suggestion super helpful. My vet friend over at Love That Pet gave some similar advice to me regarding children and body language. I had no clue that if a dog yawned or licked his lips that he was bored and probably didn’t want to be touched. Very interesting!

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