When it comes to dogs and babies, I have one prime directive above every other. Never leave your child alone with your dog. I’ll explain my reasoning below but the story I want to share does a good job at illustrating why.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a news article about a nearly fatal dog attack in Concord, Ca., a well-to-do bedroom community just east of Oakland.
Here’s the original article.
The Worst Case Scenario
In case you don’t feel like reading it, here are the details. Mom left her 10-month-old son alone in the living room with his 7-year-old brother and their 16-month-old German Shepherd to tend to the laundry.
By the time she got back a few minutes later, her infant child was hanging by his head from the Shepherd’s mouth, blood everywhere.
Mom tried to grab the child and was seriously bitten by the dog. She finally managed to call the police who showed up quickly and had to shoot the dog.
The child needed major surgery for head injuries but miraculously made it. The dog didn’t and the entire family is traumatized.
According to the child’s mother she’d raised the dog from puppyhood and apparently he’d never shown any signs of aggression.
What are we to make of this? In my view, there are at least two take aways.
First and foremost, it is precisely because of incidents like this that I constantly admonish people never, ever to leave children under 10 unsupervised with a dog, period!
I don’t care how good you think your dog is. In situations like this neither dog nor child is trustworthy so both need supervision or separation.
Because of the way this happened, there’s no way to know exactly what went down. Did the dog just go berserk for no reason? Did the child fall or climb on him? Pull his ears? Step on his foot? We have no idea.
What we do know is that if mom had been there she would no doubt have seen signs of trouble and intervened before things got out of hand. But she wasn’t! So now the dog is dead and the child is a statistic—one of the thousands of children bitten on the face and neck by the family dog every year.
Here’s my second take-away, and it falls into the realm of educated speculation. I’m willing to bet that this mom simply assumed that her lovely pet would never hurt her child.
It’s this cavalier attitude that led her to leave the dog and child unsupervised in the first place. And I’m guessing that for the same reason she did nothing whatsoever to prepare her dog for the arrival of her child.
In particular, I’m guessing she did nothing to prepare this powerful adolescent male dog for the kind of pushy grabbing and pulling that babies routinely dish out.
Preparing Your Dog For Rough Handling
So please take to heart the advice both to prepare your dog for baby’s arrival and never to leave dog and baby unattended together no matter what.
It could literally mean the difference between life and death.