Dog and Baby

Updated on April 01, 2010
A.F. asks from Bellmore, NY
7 answers

I have a crawling one year old and a big dog in an apartment. We do have a tiny "yard" which is mainly a deck shared by my neighbor. My dog usually sleeps in a dog bed in the living room, although I have another dog bed in my bedroom. Now that my daughter is more aware of the dog, she is constantly going to the dog and "bothering" her (the dog is female).

My dog is great with her but constantly licking the baby. It's ok for awhile but becomes quite annoying after some time. With constant curiosity in my daughter to pet the dog every 3 minutes, I cannot keep her away. So I sit on the floor between the baby and dog when we are home.

Aside from moving to a house (I hope so soon!) and banning my dog from the living room when my daughter is doing floor time, is there anything I can do to get my dog to stop licking a baby? Thank you!

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answers from Wichita on

Hi A.,

I wish I knew what advice to give about this! I raise collies and this is an issue sometimes. Licking is a submissive response so that is usually where I hear the complaint -- an owner's dog wants to lick their toes, legs, etc. all the time. Punishing the dog will only make them more submissive -- hence, more licking!

Mother dogs also constantly lick their young puppies up till 3 - 4 weeks of age. They are cleaning them and I'm sure this helps with the bonding process too.

An animal behavior specialist might have some good insight on this. A university with a veterinary program might have an animal behavior program at a reduced cost.

God Bless,



answers from State College on

There are a couple of things you can try. Praise and reward the dog when they are together, but the dog is not licking the child. The main thing is to catch the behavior you want and reward that behavior. Many people tend to ignore the good behavior when the dog is calmly laying in one place. You can use a verbal interrupter for when the dog does lick, just a quick noise or phrase. When she stops, wait about 3 seconds and tell her what a good girl she is. Another option is every time she licks the child, remove her from the room or remove the child for about 30 seconds to a minute and then they can be together again. She will probably catch on pretty quickly that it is the licking that is getting one of them removed and stop. Just make sure to keep rewarding and praising when they are together and she is not licking! The time away may be hard on you for the first couple of days and you may be constantly removing one of them (stick with removing one of them every time, but change which one if it isn't changing the behavior). It may drive you crazy for the first couple of hours especially and then it will get better. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Forgot to add, sometimes licking is a submissive behavior and she is probably also showing that she is no threat to your child. Another thing that will help is anytime anyone is licked if they turn their back to the dog and do not give it any attention until the licking stops. You little girl may be too young to understand that, but it can help if the dog is licking anyone else.


answers from New York on

This is a tough one becuase the dog is not doing anything wrong. Just expressing herself. As a sidebar, my daughter loves my parents' dog. And whenever he comes to visit, he licks her, and she ties to lick him too. Super Gross!!

I think it will be much easier to train the baby. I would show the baby how to pet the dog properly. And the answer about encouraging the dog when she is not licking the baby, that is really good suggestion. If the baby has floor time, just set the boundaries for the dog, telling her to stay in her bed, and tell your baby to leave the puppy alone becuase she is resting. Then allow for the baby to pet the dog, just so she still interacts with the dog.

Good luck!


answers from Kansas City on

is the dog trained? if you correct the dog (i am no dog trainer by any means) tell it "no" in a firm voice and pull her away from the baby, she should be able to learn that babies are not for licking. but keep in mind, that's actually a good thing. that's what mama dogs do to their pups. so she's feeling protective and loving towards the baby. just be gentle. i would consult a dog trainer or get some books.



answers from Orlando on

oh my gosh, lol - I have a female dog that licks everyone too! lol I wish I knew how to stop it.



answers from Kansas City on

I have the same issue with our female dog. She just wants to lick lick lick babies and small kids. We have a 22 month old son and she still licks him every chance she gets. He is to the point where he will tell her NO if he doesn't want her to lick anymore. We have always told the dog no if she is licking a little one, but that doesn't seem to phase her. I think like the other post said, it is a female dog thing!



answers from Jacksonville on

Get a baby gate and separate the dog from baby while you are not able to be right there. Get her toys and bones that she is only allowed to have in the kitchen while baby is in the living room and praise her for being a good dog. Lots of dog treats while she is in there.
While you are with baby and dog gently push the dogs face away from the baby's and say no firmly but gently. She is only cleaning her "puppy".
Baby will learn to say no and push the dogs face away.
My daughter was a crawler and would have tea parties with our dog and would tell him to wait and then OK before he was able to have his pretzels.
Pretty soon the baby will learn how to manage the dog by watching you.

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