We are all used to seeing the cute “dog and baby” videos on the internet. Some are probably caught just as they happened, and probably a lot more are staged to look a certain way. Most are harmless enough, but some are downright scary if you know what you are looking at.
This video of a “talking” Siberian Husky and a baby was sent to a NADOI member who then asked other members for comments. The video is titled “Baby and Dog Have Conversation,” which of course adds to the cute factor. I have looked at it several times, and here is what I see:
- The video appears to be staged (no problem with that).
- In the video, the husky doesn’t appear to be “having a conversation” with the baby, but instead taking direction from whomever is filming or somebody else in that area.
- The husky appears to start “talking” before the baby does, but the baby’s sounds seem to keep him going.
- I am betting that the husky does this sort of thing a lot, maybe to other sounds or prompting. Huskies tend to be vocal.
- The baby doesn’t touch the dog, and the dog is free to move away. Later in the video it looks like he may have been told to sit, hard to say.
- The dog is wagging his tail, and seems relaxed.
- The dog doesn’t appear particularly interested in the baby; makes no effort to touch or lick him. I think the husky would have “talked” without the baby even being there, with some prompting.
- In the background, you can see an area baby-gated off that contains what looks like toys for the baby, so it appears that the family has an area to put the baby away from the dog.
- The dog can be seen to “shake-off” near the end and a small sneeze can be heard. I can’t tell where that is from. I think the dog is done with this little exhibition, and moves away.
Fran Tardif commented that the dog was free to move away when he got uncomfortable with the baby moving. She also thought as long as the baby and dog are well-supervised they should do fine together as the baby grows. George Quinlan remarked that he noticed the dog’s reaction when the baby reached out to him, liked that there was a place for the baby and his toys, felt like the dog stayed where he did because of direction from someone in the area of the camera, and liked that the dog indicated when the game wasn’t fun any more. George also remarked that this sort of video is typical of what families do with babies and dogs, which is certainly true.
Those of us who train dogs and try to educate people about dogs and dog body language sometimes try to dissect these videos too much, I think. Dogs and kids have lived together as long as humans have had dogs, and amazingly, both species usually survive just fine, and did so even before dog trainers, dog obedience instructors, and video cameras. Of course, we don’t know anything about this dog or his family other than what is on the video, but based on the short clip, I’d say it is innocent enough, and one of the cute ones.
However, we do see videos that cause us to cringe, and some are tough to watch, as we fear that something bad may happen at any moment. Babies should ALWAYS be closely supervised when near dogs, no matter the size, breed, or temperament of the dog. I would have liked to see mom or dad in the video with the husky, possibly with the baby on their lap or down on the floor with the baby. Or mom or dad could have been right with the dog and in between the baby and dog. Being right there “just in case” is always the smart and responsible thing to do. Parents should learn what their dogs are trying to tell them, and heed any warnings of stress, fear, or discomfort. Videos should not be staged if that means a dog is forced to do something or be in a situation that might cause him to bite.
Unfortunately, when a dog bites a baby, it many times means the end of that dog’s life. And it is almost always preventable.
©2014 Helen Cariotis