Babies And Pets: Can They Be Together In One House?
There seems to be a mix emotion regarding the notion that babies and pets can live together in one household. Traditional parents say it isn’t possible, saying even if the pets are well-trained, you cannot guarantee that they will think rationally all the time. Modern parents, on the other hand, insist that it is indeed possible.
I have seen a lot of videos on YouTube recently, showing how dogs guard the babies or how cats play with them. Some bold parents even documented how pets make sure their baby’s safety. Although many are convinced that it is possible to have both babies and pets and still continue to live harmoniously, there are still reports of babies being attacked by the family’s pet.
This seems to be a rather difficult issue to consider as pets are of different breeds; therefore, they somehow have different characteristics. Pets that have different upbringing may also have different attitudes towards humans. To ensure that your pet is safe to be around with your baby, there are certain things that you should be aware of. These are essential information which can help you decide whether or not to allow pets in your household.
Why do some pets attack the baby?
Not all pets are good at following instructions. Most of them are born with wild instinct wherein they hunt for their own food, are vigilant and suspicious of their surroundings, have a natural self-defense mechanism.
Dogs, for example, have this certain characteristic of suddenly attacking a baby. There are several reasons for this. First, the dog was not trained properly. He is still aloof to the human race and is not used to being around us. Second, it is rather complicated than the first. Think of a squeaky ball that you throw and the dog will automatically chase after it. A cat that gets curious every time a moving object is on sight and chases after it when it starts to move. When the baby wrapped in a swaddle starts to cry and move, the dog will think that the baby wants to play. So, the dog will pounce on the baby. However, when the baby starts to feel scared and screams, the dog’s predator instinct will be triggered and get out of control, which makes the dog bites the baby and tries to get a response.
However, if the dog is already familiar with the baby’s cry, then he can already distinguish the baby’s sound from the others. This time the risk level would be lesser. Pets mostly attack when their predator instinct is triggered.
What triggers pets’ predator instinct?
Animal behavior is much more complicated than what we normally think. One aspect that makes it difficult is the fact that we do not have the same language or medium of communication. It takes quite some time to fully figure out your pets’ behavior.
There are various speculations why pets attack human especially babies. The first reason is a common one which many believe is true. The predatory instinct of the animals is innate in them. Predatory instinct is best described when a dog chases a ball thrown by his master. They have this instinct to chase after something they think is prey.
The second one is the prey drive. When babies squeal and cry, the pets think a prey is injured. They will then start chasing after it. Animals have exceptional senses but lack comprehension of what they hear, see, or smell. It would take a whole lot of training before your pet would be safe enough to keep.
The third reason is the human behavior. Our behavior towards the animals can also trigger their predatory instinct or prey drive. If you are not careful, then there is a bigger possibility of the pet attacking the baby.
How to avoid things that may trigger the pets?
1. Proper training
Have your pets properly trained by professionals? Sure, your neighbor may be a pet lover and has already an experience in training pets, but do not trust him to train your pets unless he is a professional himself. Professional pet trainer knows the behavior of the animals better than average people.
2. Active supervision
Even if you are confident that your pet is trained well, you cannot predict when they will suddenly have a change in behavior. As mentioned earlier, they have innate instincts that drive them to do automatic reactions to a certain stimulus.
Parents should make sure that someone is present watching over the baby when the pet is around. Even simple scratches and innocent bites could lead to a serious infection if they remain unnoticed. There should be someone watching actively so that necessary precautions can be applied whenever an attack happens.
3. Minimal interaction
To avoid any attack all together, it is recommended to limit interaction at a minimal level. If your pet is a dog, you can put them in a dog house in the backyard, or if you have a cat, you need to limit the rooms they are allowed to enter. This minimal interaction is highly suggested for babies up to 2 years old. Since babies at this age range still cannot speak comprehensively.
4. Warning signs
For children who can already speak comprehensively, warning signs should be taught. Teach your children basic signs and tricks on what to do when in trouble with a pet. This can be considered as safety measures which are vital for their survival.
5. Let the pet have some time alone
Animals just like humans feel the need to be alone. They need to feel like themselves again minus the human interaction. Teach your children not to bother your pet in this rare situation. It will be an advantage if they know when to leave your pet alone.
If your pet is a little bit grumpy and your kids are bothering them, they might trigger their predator instinct. Your pet may end up biting or scratching your children.
6. Avoid rough playing
As much as possible, tell your kids to avoid rough playing with your pet. This is just a safety measure to lessen possibilities of attacks. Rough playing includes teasing the pet, cornering, inflecting innocent pain like headlock and binding their feet together with your hands, hugging them around their neck, etc.
What to do when attacked by pets?
- When you see your pet, especially a dog, running towards you aggressively, do not back away and run immediately for such action will only trigger their predatory instinct. Stand still for a minute and take a step forward. The dog will bark and step backward. Continue taking relaxed steps forward while keeping an eye on the dog. Once the dog realized you are not going to run for them to chase, they will lose their interest and start to walk away.
- In an attack wherein the pet has successfully bitten or scratched you, apply first aid immediately. You do not know if the bite is infectious or carry tetanus which can seriously harm your health. After applying the initial first aid, and you feel like the cut, or the wound is somehow deep, then see a doctor have an anti-tetanus injection and ask for prescribed medicine.
It is possible for babies and pets to live together in one household; active supervision is the key to preventing any attacks and accidents from happening. For parents, it is your responsibility to train your pets especially if you have infants at home.