A close relationship between dogs and children can be something really special and adorable to observe. We’ve all seen these kinds of videos where dogs get along incredibly well with the newborn baby, and they want to do everything to protect them. It could be a lifelong bond, but it reaches strange territory when your dog tries to bury your baby.
Your dog tries to bury your baby because this behavior is instilled in them through their ancestors. In the wild, their ancestors often buried food to protect it from being taken by other predators (called ‘caching’). Modern dogs tend to hide or bury things of value to them to protect it from harm.
We will discuss where this ‘burying’ behavior comes from, how it affects modern-day dogs, why they do this out of protection, and what to do about it. To learn more about this odd burying behavior, read on!
Why Dogs Try To Bury Babies: The Origins
Most dog (or other pet) owners see the dog as a member of the family just as much as any human family member. This closeness can be heart-warming, and it also can provide an excellent environment for a child to grow up in. However, it’s essential not to forget that a dog’s behavior is different from ours, and we cannot expect them to understand and see things the way we do.
Some people bring a newborn home, only to realize that their dog wants to “bury” their baby, typically underneath blankets. Understandably, this might cause alarm, and parents want to know what to do and why their normally innocent dog does this.
The strange thing is that dogs don’t show this kind of behavior with their own pups, but they do display it when it comes to food. This kind of behavior is also called ‘caching’ or ‘hoarding’ by animal behaviorists, and it originates from a time when dogs lived among predators. Your dog’s ancestors in the wild could sometimes end up with more food than they could eat, and they would bury the excess to prevent other hunters from stealing it.
Modern-day dogs still show this kind of behavior and bury food around the house. If you’re a dog owner, you might find treats buried in the backyard, in potted plants, and sometimes even in the laundry basket.
If your dog has enough food in his bowl, he might not feel hungry when you’re giving him a treat, and then they’ll hide it for later. When you have a newly rescued dog in the house, they might feel uncomfortable eating around other dogs because of their new situation.
This kind of behavior is not only displayed when it comes to food. Dogs also do this with toys or other objects around the house simply to keep them away from other dogs or people.
Now, don’t worry; this doesn’t mean your dog wants to hide your baby to eat as a snack later. They simply recognize that your baby is valuable and deserves protection. They’re trying to keep your baby from harm by covering it with blankets! Especially if your dog has a history of hiding your slippers or their favorite toy, you could expect this kind of behavior as well with your child.
Another reason why your dog might seem to want to bury your baby (in blankets) is out of parental instincts. When you have a child, you feel like you’re the only one who could keep it safe, and you’re the only one capable of keeping it safe.
However, your dog feels the same way. Especially if they (already) had their own pups, it could be quite likely that they view your baby as theirs. They’ll try to become their mother or father by taking care of them, protecting them from harm, and ensuring their happiness.
Jealousy is the most unlikely reason for your dog to act the way they’re acting, but it can happen when the household dynamics have changed because a newborn baby has been brought into it— the attention shifts from the dog to the baby. Newborn babies require a whole lot of attention, and sometimes your dog can feel jealous of this. They can try to shift the attention back to them again by hiding the baby from you.
What To Do About Your Dog Trying to Bury Your Baby
This behavior might seem harmless, which luckily it is most of the time. However, it’s important to be cautious because accidents can happen, and dogs cannot always truly foresee the consequences of their behavior, especially when it comes to a completely different species; humans. This is why it’s important to discourage your dog from tucking in your little baby with blankets.
When a newborn comes into the house, you must teach your dog to respect you and your baby’s space. Dogs can get overly protective and, because of that, even become increasingly aggressive towards others when it comes to your baby. Letting your dog know that caching is unnecessary will teach them that the baby is in a safe environment where such behavior is not needed and that you’re in charge.
Prepare and Prevent
Before the baby arrives, you can start by preparing your dog a month in advance. You can do so by teaching him boundaries with commands such as ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave It.’ Perhaps the dog already knows such commands, but it might be good to give them a little refresher lesson if necessary.
You can choose to make the nursery off-limits to the dog and make it easier on yourself when the baby arrives. This way, you can also decide to introduce baby and dog at a slower pace with plenty of boundaries.
You can also decide only to let the dog into the nursery when you say it’s okay, which will increase the respect level. If you find it challenging to teach your dog new behaviors, you might find it helpful to hire a professional trainer.
Often, children and dogs grow up inseparable, which is great, but building this kind of relationship does take time. Especially at the beginning, it’s important never to leave your dog and child alone together unsupervised. Sometimes accidents can happen, so it’s best to set boundaries within the home.
A great way to do this could be, for example, providing your dog with a kennel or an area that’s gated-off but where he will still be able to see the family.
This way, you’ll be guaranteed safety when you can’t fully watch your dog all the time. It can also provide the dog with a safe space of his own if he has to get used to all of the new developments around the house.
If these tools don’t help or you find that your dog is having some troubles in any way, it’s best to consult a professional. They’ll most likely know what to do to make the situation better for everyone.
Although seeing your dog behaving affectionately towards your baby can be heart-warming and adorable, don’t think that every moment will be that sweet. Especially when it comes to your dog trying to bury your baby (in blankets), you should teach your dog how to keep their distance to prevent any accidents from happening.
Also, never forget that dogs’ ancestors are wolves and that keeping inappropriate behavior in check is essential. It might take some time to correct these seemingly bizarre impulses, but it’ll be better for the entire family in the end.