Why I’d never leave a baby alone with a dog…


dog baby 4

Before Olly came along I had another baby, a fur baby, his name was Mikey and was a West Highland Terrier. We had Mikey since he was just 6 weeks old and to think back, I can’t quite believe that he was small enough to sit in the palm of my hand.

When I was pregnant I was worried how he would react to a newborn in the house, after all he had been our priority for the last seven years and was used to getting all our attention. I was worried that he might get jealous and try and compete with the baby for our attention and ultimately I was worried that my very docile Westie would become aggressive.

As we brought Olly home for the first time, Mikey was sitting on top of the sofa watching out the living room window as he often does. He watched us get out the car and bring in the car seat with a very tiny baby in it. As we put the car seat down on the floor, Mikey went up to the car seat and sniffed at it. We watched him intently to see what his reaction was and made a fuss of him to make sure he knew we still loved him.


Over the passing weeks, Mikey became quite protective of Olly. He would sit under his crib as if he was on guard and wasn’t fazed by Olly’s loud newborn cries for attention. On most occasions as Olly began rolling around the floor, Mikey would just move out of the way and find his own peaceful corner.

dog baby

One morning as Olly was on his play mat, the postman pushed some post through the letterbox and it startled Mikey. He jumped off the sofa and ran towards the front door in the hallway, only narrowly missing trampling on Olly as I sat in his way. In that instance, I was scared enough to worry that no matter how much Mikey appeared to care for Olly, he was still a dog and his instincts were to protect his territory.

dog baby5

Dogs can injure and in the worst case, kill. Even the nice ones.

In recent weeks, there has been a number of tragic incidents where family pets have mauled small babies or children. Just yesterday, in the news there was a shocking story of a family pet dog (the breed of which wasn’t on listed on the Dangerous Dogs Act) who had mauled a six day old newborn baby to death. The full story has yet unknown but a newborn baby has lost its life. It’s terribly upsetting.

It might sound patronising but never ever leave your baby or small child alone with a dog. No matter how docile they are around you or your family, their behaviour can change in a split second and that is all it takes for the worst to happen. Let’s not forget dogs are animals and have animal instincts.

West Highland Terriers are lovely breeds as are Cocker Spaniels and Bichon Frise, although need a lot of nurturing unlike the Goldendoodle.

If I need to pop to the toilet or answer the front door, I always separate Olly and the dog. I’d never leave a baby alone in the same room as the dog. It’s not worth the risk. We have dog gates on our living room and kitchen doors to ensure we can keep them apart and when Olly was younger I made sure that the dog couldn’t jump onto the moses basket or into his rocking chair.

Dogs best friend

If you could see Olly and Mikey together today, they’re friends. Olly likes to pat Mikey’s back and Mikey loves the leftovers that come his way as he sits under the highchair at dinner time. I’m pretty sure that Mikey wouldn’t harm him but I’d never take the risk of finding out.

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  • Reply Susan Mann 19/02/2014 at 5:17 am

    An interesting post. I don’t have a dog, but after all the tragedies recently it has put me off getting one. You just never know do you. Xx

  • Reply Emily @amummytoo 19/02/2014 at 11:30 am

    We don’t have any pets except the caged kind and I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to have an extra little furry bundle to worry about when you’re looking after a baby. I think that most family dogs are probably very considerate of little ones but I agree, you can never be too careful where a child’s safety is concerned.

  • Reply Globalmouse 19/02/2014 at 12:20 pm

    What a great post. I love the relationship that they have but I completely agree, a dog’s instinct will be to protect its territory and while it is unlikely he will ever hurt your baby you really do never know and that tiny risk just isn’t worth it.

  • Reply Keri-Anne 19/02/2014 at 12:31 pm

    I saw the news yesterday about that tiny baby and felt so sad. We have a dog but we only rehomed him 4 months back. I was so scared of having a dog and a tiny baby x

  • Reply Fritha Strickland 19/02/2014 at 1:18 pm

    I’ve never really thought about this (we are cat people!) but I sometimes see pics of newborn with big Alsatians and think yikes! x

  • Reply Charlotte 19/02/2014 at 1:47 pm

    Most of the time I would agree, but being brought up in a family of pets, my parents knew which ones they could or couldn’t leave me alone with. I feel that as a pet owner we should be in tune with our animals instincts and personalities and know when to trust them. Just me though x

    • Reply Emma Shilton 19/02/2014 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks for your comment Charlotte, I grew up with dogs too and have seen first hand how they can instantly change when reacting to a loud noise or a stranger. I don’t think for one minute, Mikey would harm Little Mr but as I said, I don’t want to run the risk of finding out.

  • Reply anna 19/02/2014 at 2:54 pm

    I’m not a dog person at all and I have to admit I wouldn’t really want a dog to be nearby my young baby at all, I’m quite scared of them myself but definitely for those having dogs – even if they look friendly, being safer than sorry is always better and it’s not worth it to leave them alone. There are so many upsetting stories with dogs recently, its awful

  • Reply Kirsty 19/02/2014 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you for writing such an important post. You just never know so it is better to be safe and never find out. My husband was bitten quite badly by the family dog when he was younger and he bears the scars on his arm as a reminder that no matter how much you think a dog is safe, anything can and might happen. It is lovely to see that you help to foster a loving relationship between Little Mr and Mikey under your sensible and watchful eye.

  • Reply Mummy of Two 19/02/2014 at 4:02 pm

    When they get on well it is so easy to forget that dogs can turn isn’t it. Ours has been brilliant with our two children, however, as she gets older I get ever more wary that she could snap at them if they push her too far.

  • Reply You Baby Me Mummy 19/02/2014 at 4:08 pm

    I have a fur baby too. I was there when she was born and hand fed her etc. I never leave Baby with them, or let her play with them. However much I trust them they are dogs after all x

  • Reply Pippa Ainsworth 19/02/2014 at 4:15 pm

    I completely agree with you. I cringe when I see photos of dogs with babies. I do believe people can train their dogs, and can know them really well but no-one has any way of knowing if they might snap and it is simply not worth the risk.
    I’ve grown up with dogs and would like one for our family at some point but I’m going to wait until my two are older.

  • Reply Sonya Cisco 19/02/2014 at 4:57 pm

    Such tragic stories aren’t they. I too had a dog when my eldest was born, and never left them alone, but my heart goes out to these parents, who I am sure never imagined the worst could happen to them.

  • Reply VaiChin @Rambling Through Parenthood 19/02/2014 at 6:20 pm

    I agree with you completely on this one. However friendly the family dog may be, you cannot predict any sudden change in behaviour. Why take that risk with something as precious as your child?

  • Reply Emma 19/02/2014 at 6:46 pm

    I have to say I completely agree with you. I wouldn’t leave them alone with cats either when a baby is tiny. I have heard many a tale (mostly from my grandmother I will admit!) about cats suffocating newborns. I also have to say, what utterly cute cute pictures! :)

  • Reply Cass@frugalfamily 19/02/2014 at 7:06 pm

    My last comment got eaten I think so I’ll just say that I completely agree with everything you say x x x

  • Reply Charly Dove 19/02/2014 at 8:06 pm

    Great post and of course topical after recent events. We saw some friends with dogs recently, it unnerved me – especially the neurotic one that was the same height as POD! That said, I grew up with Labradors and although we’ve not had one for years, it would be lovely for POD to have one too at some point. Maybe as a puppy so they get used to each other. You’re so right in what you’re saying about animal instincts :)

  • Reply hannah clementson 19/02/2014 at 8:06 pm

    I find it hard when people try and argue and justify that it is ok with their dogs because their dog is not like the others. Like you say, animals will be animals no matter what. I completely agree with this.

  • Reply Lynn @ more4mums 19/02/2014 at 8:24 pm

    Such shocking stories in the news recently, very upsetting.
    I agree that it is safest to never leave a baby and dog unattended, no matter how friendly or docile. When looking for a childminder a few years ago one lady had a large breed and it did put me off leaving my young daughter with her.

  • Reply Emily Greentree 19/02/2014 at 8:27 pm

    I totally agree. My mum has a dog and we keep them separate, as Florence (the dog) is very jumpy. Even if she didn’t mean to, she could scratch or hurt N. Those stories in the news are shocking and so sad, as I feel in some way it could have been avoided. My partner was attacked by a friends dog a few years ago, he did nothing to the dog and yet the dog jumped up and attacked him, bit his ear narrowly missing his neck. He needed 17 stitches and his ear is scarred – it was terrifying and this experience alone has shown me what dogs are capable of. Xxx

  • Reply Sam @happyhomebird 19/02/2014 at 9:08 pm

    We have always had dogs, always 2 for company so I was extra careful when we brought my son home from hospital and never left him alone with the dogs. For their sake too as I love the dogs and would hate for an accident to happen. He’s 4 now and we are still careful, making sure he is kind to them and doesn’t go near their faces – he has autism and doesn’t always understand but he is very good with the dogs as they are with him. Two smallish dogs, wouldn’t have anything huge with kiddies.

  • Reply Donna @OrdinaryCyclingGirl 19/02/2014 at 10:52 pm

    Great post highlighting an important issue. I grew up with dogs and loved the experience, but with so many media stories of dogs harming children over the last 10-15 years we’ve personally decided to wait until our children are older before we introduce a dog into our family. It sounds like you are taking every precaution you possibly can, even though I am sure your family pet is trustworthy and utterly adorable.

  • Reply kelloggsville 19/02/2014 at 10:59 pm

    interesting read, I popped in for the gallery but stayed for this one. I think having a dog and a baby makes for very hard work. I never worried about my cats at all, they just stayed away from the whole noisy situation! I did have to get one cat rehomed, we got it as a rescue cat when my daughter was about 4 and it was permanently aggressive. It launched itself at her one day and sunk it’s teeth into her cheek…the cat had to go, but I was there when it happened, I was helpless to stop it. The cat went to a home without animals or children and lived for a few more years. I guess all animals can be unpredictable.

  • Reply Becca Masters 20/02/2014 at 5:29 am

    Couldn’t agree more.
    My daughter is almost 11 months old and she loves my SILs dog. He’s a big and energetic very friendly dog, but I would never ever leave her alone with him.
    My daughter is seemingly fascinated with dogs, only the other day she saw a lady with a chihuahua puppy and she got so happy and could stop looking at it, but even a chihuahua has the means to rip your face off, small as they are. I’m just not willing to take that chance.
    Any responsible dog owner would say the same too.

  • Reply Kara 20/02/2014 at 7:04 am

    I would never have a dog, especially when the kids are small, but then I don’t like them anyway. The kids seem unfazed by them but I always make them ask for permission before touching one when we are out. The news has been full of horrific stories and I feel for the parents – they must feel horrendously guilty

  • Reply Emmys Mummy 20/02/2014 at 5:42 pm

    I’ll go against the grain and say I have left mine my dog with both mine when babies – I’ve a border collie and he sleeps near the kids – he guards over them.

    I was definitely vary though and did always keep a very close eye

  • Reply Emily 21/02/2014 at 1:08 pm

    Dogs are lovely animals (although I’m more of a cat person!), but like any pet they are animals and can never be trusted 100% around babies. Thanks for linking up #binkylinky

  • Reply mumtoamonster 21/02/2014 at 7:18 pm

    This made me cry !!! :( I had a border collie who was my baby and was amazing when my son was newborn . Wasnt started by his crying etc . We were like yourself , never leave them alone , dont let child harrass dog and vicea versa however when J started crawling he was obviously to random for our dog as he started getting unsettled and trying to herd him . He nipped (didnt break the skin) on 2 occasions and being a baby only narrowly missed his eye.

    I spent 2 weeks crying and it has definetly contributed to my PND even more . He got rehomed to a strictly no children home

    Sat crying now :( it makes me so angry that people are blazey about dogs around babies . its common sense :(

  • Reply Mummy Whiskers 21/02/2014 at 11:45 pm

    A great post, I hope it helps more dog owners to be as careful and responsible as you. I love the photos of them together, I get the feeling they will be good friends! Thanks for linking up #BinkyLinky

  • Reply Sportbilly 22/02/2014 at 2:06 pm

    I completely agree. My dog is my baby and I love him, but wouldn’t leave him with a child. Dogs and children can have great relationships together, but absolutely shouldn’t be left alone together. I think a lot more dog owners also need to learn the subtle signs that dogs can show when they are not comfortable, as a lot of incidents can happen when the adult is present, but they don’t stop the child from taunting the dog or recognise when the dog isn’t happy. It’s not fair on the dog.

  • Reply Lucy creighton 22/02/2014 at 3:44 pm

    Theres been so many horrible stories around recently hasn’t there :/ I totally agree with you no matter how soft you think your dog is you never know whats going on in their brains! Rusko is the boys best friend but if I’m not in the room I never leave them all alone.
    Mickey & Little Mr are both adorable xx

  • Reply agatapokutycka 22/02/2014 at 6:56 pm

    I love my dogs and they are always ever so good but I would also never leave them alone with a baby… you know just in case… on the off chance that something might go wrong… no need for tempting anything…

  • Reply Kirsty Hijacked By Twins 24/02/2014 at 2:32 pm

    It is so scary the amount of times you hear about incidents of dogs attacking children. We don’t have any pets apart from the chickens but my mum and dad have a dog who is a really big softie but we always keep an eye out as you never really know.

  • Reply Natalie 24/02/2014 at 8:11 pm

    A very wise decision. It must be so easy to do, and just pop out to another room to get something but there’s always the risk.

  • Reply HodgePodgeDays 25/02/2014 at 10:11 am

    Interesting post. We had to give my dog to my Dad when the monkey was born, she hated him, now they are the very best of friends, I’m still cautious but he’d been taught how to behave around dogs and she’s probably too old to care now.

  • Reply jenny 26/02/2014 at 2:19 pm

    What an amazing post, a tribute to the love and friendship Mikey and Mr have but also to warn other dog owners the risks and dangers. It’s so tragic what’s been on the news. I can’t even imagine. Thank you so much for linking up with Share With Me. I love to get to know other bloggers and lovely blogs like yours! Hope to see you again soon.

  • Reply Sara (@mumturnedmom) 26/02/2014 at 5:06 pm

    We had dogs when I was growing up, and I love them, but I wouldn’t have a dog now with young children. You are quite right to never leave your child alone with your dog. Although, your pictures are lovely and do show what a special relationship children can have with their pets – as I had with our dogs when I was young. Popping over from Share with Me x

  • Reply Katie Clark 26/02/2014 at 6:53 pm

    We have a Westie too and he and my son have a great relationship, but you just never know and can’t be too careful. A dog is a dog – it only takes one bite, one snap. You can’t take the risk, especially where children are concerned.

  • Reply Rachel 28/02/2014 at 5:00 pm

    A very important post! It is so important to remember that dogs were once wild animals, and as you say, it is in their nature to protect their territory. The most docile dog can turn and it’s not worth the risk to your child. I wish others took as much care as you do. We may not hear as many tragic stories then!

    Thank you for linking up to PBloggers Weekly Roundup x

    • Reply Emma Shilton 28/02/2014 at 10:55 pm

      Thanks Rachel, I couldn’t take the risk.. x

  • Reply PBloggers | Pbloggers Weekly Roundup: 21st – 27th Feb 2014 02/03/2014 at 7:00 pm

    […] view of the recent horrifying newspaper headlines involving dogs attacking babies, Emma from Life According to Mrs Shilts shares why she would never leave a baby alone with a […]

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