Some readers may know I’ve recently joined the Family Paws team as a parent educator for dog and baby/child safety.  Most of my training has consequently been dealing with dog and baby cases of all kinds.  Some families are expecting and are worried about how their dog will respond (he doesn’t like kids, after all). Some have noticed some troubling behaviour around their newly crawling 8-month-old, and others have just experienced the devastation of their child being bitten by their beloved family pet.

When I get calls from these parents, and especially when I read about them in the news, I hear about and read all kinds of reactions from other parents and training professionals.

Our first reaction is to blame:

“How could a mother let this happen?”

“Wasn’t she paying attention?”

“Why would she keep that dog knowing it didn’t like kids?”

I get it. I do.  I can completely relate to that feeling of terror when you hear about a child being badly injured. My mind immediately imagines how that would feel, and it’s beyond words.  So in response to every parent’s vulnerable and helpless feelings, I come up with an explanation.  Anything that will make it less likely to ever happen to me. Anything to distract me from something so awful and make it somebody else’s fault.


Being a new mom is just so completely, mind-numbingly exhausting.  This new diapered ball of chubbiness consumes every waking minute (and most of the non-waking ones).  Dog bites don’t always happen because of negligence or because a parent was irresponsible.  Often, they happen to parents who love their dogs and love their new (and not-so-new) babies and are trying to do their very best to fit it all in.  They happen to a dad who just turned away for a second to grab a diaper while the baby lay on the change pad. They happened to a mom who had no idea her baby could crawl, yet when she went to grab a load of laundry.

I’m not here to blame you mom, for falling asleep while your baby is nestled quietly in the baby chair on the floor. I’m here to make it safe for you to do that.  I’m here to give you a plan that allows you to be a mom to your dog and your baby without the constant worry and stress.  The arrival of a baby doesn’t have to mean your dog’s life is over. There are ways we can include your dog so that he feels just as loved as he ever did and, yes, so that you can breathe a sigh of relief and, for once, put your feet up.


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Danielle Hodges, CPDT-KA