Dog barking is typically within a range of 60 to 110 decibels, and while it can be loud and startling, it’s generally not enough to cause hearing damage to a baby’s ears. Prolonged exposure to noises above 85 decibels might cause damage, but a dog’s bark is usually brief and sporadic. Care should still be taken to monitor a baby’s comfort and reaction to loud noises.
However, if your dog barks excessively or extremely loudly, you must be careful exposing your baby to prolonged barking. A sudden outburst of barking can scare your baby and make him cry, but it won’t damage your baby’s ears.
Tips to Control Dog Barking to Keep Your Baby’s Hearing Safe
Training and Commands
Teach your dog quiet commands like “quiet” or “enough.” For example, when your dog starts barking, calmly say the command and reward it with a treat when it stops barking. Repeat this until the dog learns to associate the command with the action.
Use Anti-Bark Devices
These devices emit a sound or vibration that only dogs can hear, discouraging them from barking. For instance, an ultrasonic anti-bark device releases a high-pitched noise when the dog barks, which deters it from continuing the behavior without harming its hearing.
Use Bark Collars
Bark collars are devices worn around a dog’s neck that detect barking and deliver a stimulus to discourage the behavior. For example, a citronella bark collar releases a harmless spray that dogs find unpleasant when they bark. Some collars emit a vibration or a mild electric shock.
Create a Calm Environment
Reducing stimuli that cause your dog to bark can decrease the noise level. If your dog barks at people passing by the window, close the blinds or create a barrier. This way, the dog won’t be triggered by external sights.
Socialization and Exercise
Regular play and social interaction can reduce anxiety-related barking. For example, taking your dog for a walk or to a dog park can help it burn off energy and be less prone to barking at home.
Provide Mental Stimulation
Engaging toys and puzzles can keep your dog occupied and less likely to bark out of boredom. For example, a treat-filled puzzle toy can keep your dog entertained and quiet for an extended period.
Consult a Professional if Needed
If the barking is persistent and the above tips don’t work, consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviorist might be necessary. They can create a customized training plan to reduce barking tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
Monitor the Baby’s Environment
While the dog barking is unlikely to harm your baby’s hearing, being mindful of the overall noise environment is beneficial. Keep the baby’s room insulated from loud noises and use white noise machines to create a soothing background sound.
Why do Dogs Bark in Front of Babies?
- Curiosity about the new family member
- Attention-seeking behavior
- Reacting to the baby’s noises or movements
- Feeling anxious or stressed by changes in the environment
- Jealousy or competition for attention
- Sensing excitement or anxiety from the parents
- Reacting to specific smells related to the baby
- Lack of socialization or training around young children
Silent Breeds for Homes with Babies
Known as the “barkless dog,” the Basenji is unique in that it doesn’t bark like other dogs. Instead, it makes a unique sound known as a “barroo” due to the shape of its larynx. This breed can be a great option for homes with babies, as it typically won’t create sudden loud noises.
Whippets are generally very quiet and gentle dogs. They are known for their calm demeanor and are not prone to unnecessary barking. With proper socialization, they can be great companions in a household with a baby, providing a peaceful presence.
Bulldogs are well-known for being particularly docile and laid-back. They are not usually barkers and tend to be very affectionate and gentle. Their easy-going nature can make them an excellent choice for families with young children.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This breed is often prized for its affectionate nature and quiet temperament. Cavaliers typically get along well with children and are not known to be frequent barkers. Their friendly disposition can add a loving touch to a family home with a baby.
Shih Tzus are often a good choice for families with babies because of their generally quiet and affectionate nature. They’re more inclined to seek affection and play gently rather than bark. Proper training and socialization can make them loving and peaceful household members with young children.
Sounds to Avoid Around Babies for Hearing Safety
Loud Music or Television: High volumes from music or television can be startling for a baby and potentially harmful over prolonged periods.
Heavy Machinery and Power Tools: The noise from lawnmowers or power drills can exceed safe levels for a baby’s delicate hearing.
Traffic Noise: Living near a busy road with constant loud traffic can be a continuous source of noise pollution that may affect a baby’s hearing over time.
Fireworks and Loud Bangs: Sudden loud sounds like fireworks or balloons popping can startle a baby and have a negative impact if the exposure is too close or prolonged.
Airplane Noise: The sound of an airplane taking off or landing nearby can be extremely loud and should be avoided or minimized around babies.
High-Volume Toys: Some children’s toys can produce noise at a surprisingly high level, which might be unsafe for a baby’s hearing if used too close or too often.
Crowded Events or Concerts: Environments with large crowds or live music often have elevated noise levels that can be overwhelming and unsafe for a baby’s ears.
Household Appliances: Some common household appliances like vacuum cleaners or hairdryers might produce noise levels that are uncomfortable or potentially harmful to a baby if used too closely.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do if my neighbor’s dog scares my baby?
Talk to your neighbor about the situation and ask them to control their dog’s behavior when your baby is around. If it continues to be an issue, consider installing a barrier or fence to create a safe distance between the dog and your child.
Can barking hurt my fetus’s ears?
Dog barking is unlikely to hurt a fetus’s ears, as the sound must travel through various barriers, such as the abdominal wall and amniotic fluid, which dampen the noise. Normal levels of barking are generally not a concern for fetal hearing.
Can I call 911 or animal control if my neighbor’s dog barks too much?
For a continuous barking issue, it’s best to first communicate with your neighbor to seek a resolution. If that fails, calling your local animal control or non-emergency police line may be appropriate. Dialing 911 should be reserved for immediate emergencies, and excessive barking typically doesn’t qualify.
Can toys damage a baby’s hearing?
Yes, some toys can produce noise at levels potentially harmful to a baby’s hearing, especially if used close to the ear and for prolonged periods. It’s advisable to check the noise levels of toys and keep the volume down or choose toys with softer sounds.