Dog Cries When Baby Cries: Tips for Reactive Dogs

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 13, 2024

dog cries when baby cries

In this Omaha dog training session we worked with a unique, but not uncommon situation: a dog cries when baby cries. Harley is a 6 year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, who is having a tough time adjusting to his new roommate. With our help, his family learned how to help him stay calm around the new baby.

Why a Dog Cries When Baby Cries

We spent the first part of the session going over the day to day routine. I suggested increasing his daily exercise since Harley is a little heavy. He would benefit from additional exercise both physically and psychologically.

I also went over the importance of structure to help the dog see and respect the humans as having the leadership for the family. As a dog behavior expert, whenever I meet a dog who thinks it’s up to them to guard or protect a baby, I always address what I refer to as the leader-follower dynamic.

Dogs have a powerful instinct to either lead or follow. Just like wolves, they understand the importance of a leader in their pack. If they don’t see their parents taking charge like the alpha wolf, they might feel compelled to step into that role themselves.

After suggesting ways to help Harley see the humans as leaders, I showed them how to add a little bit of structure to petting him. Because we pet our dogs so often, asking them to do something to earn this attention can go a long ways towards helping the dog adopt more of a follower mindset.

I also stressed the importance of rewarding Harley when he did desired actions on his own. I noticed he would walk over and sit in front of his humans at times to ask for attention, but this was often ignored. By rewarding him for things like sitting, laying down or coming on his own, he will be more inclined to repeat these behaviors when requested.

Just as we were finishing up the discussion of positive dog training, the family’s baby started to cry. I quickly handed my camera to one of the guardians so we could shoot a video with tips to stop Harley’s dog aggression towards babies, especially crying ones.

Dog Aggression Towards Babies

Dog aggression towards babies can stem from various causes. One common factor is insufficient socialization during the dog’s early development, making children seem unfamiliar and intimidating. We recommend to our puppy class parents exposing your furry friends to diverse experiences, including interactions with children, before they reach 12 weeks old. We call this the Critical Socialization Period.

Additionally, the small size, high-pitched sounds, and frequent stillness of infants may unsettle certain dogs. Some pups may also react to babies’ movements and noises with predatory instincts. Aggression might arise from resource guarding, anxiety, or jealousy, such as guarding food, toys, or territory, or feeling neglected in favor of the baby. Previous negative encounters with children can further exacerbate a dog’s aggressive tendencies.

Stopping a dog from getting upset when a baby cries is not hard when you use the right approach. It just takes practice and a good supply of repetitions for a week or two.

Training a Dog to Stop Reacting to a Baby

This application of counterconditioning, replacing one behavior with another, will help Harley build a positive connection to the baby’s crying. With enough practice over the next week or two, Harley will start to associate crying with him receiving attention and treats.

I suggested the family try to record audio of the baby crying as that will allow them to practice on demand which will make it easier to rehabilitate the dog from this problem.

I also showed the family a simple focus exercise. Teaching a dog to focus on command is a great way to redirect a dog’s attention away from something before they can get into trouble or feel the need to react.

To help the family members remember all the positive dog training tips I shared in this at home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

Dog Get Upset When Baby Cries? Click Here for Help
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This post was written by: David Codr