Expert shares tips for safely introducing dogs and kids

Knowing what to do to help your pets get used to your kids can help them become friends for the rest of their lives.

A wolf-mix pet dog mauled a newborn to death in Lee County, Virginia.

The baby girl was just 8-days-old, and deputies say the dog attacked her in her bassinet at home.

The dog was put down, and the sheriff says his office will determine if the parents will face any charges.

It's a case that highlights concerns about introducing babies to pets in the home.

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Dr. Julia Albright is a behavioral expert at the University of Tennessee vet school. She said first impressions mean a lot when it comes to dogs.

Albright said for the first time they meet, have the baby in your arms instead of putting him or her down, and always watch the two interact.

For toddlers, you should teach them not to hug the dog, because that can make the dog feel trapped.

She also said don't bother the dog when it's sleeping.

"So doing things that help the child stop doing things that are fearful for the dog, but also doing things that actually proactively make being around the child a good thing," Albright said.

There are some signs to watch for when dogs are around your kids, she said.

Dogs may have a wide eyed stare, pull their ears back or have a stiff posture if they feel nervous or ready to bite.

She said the period in a dog's life between 4 and 14 weeks is when they best learn how to be with kids, so if you adopt an older dog, sometimes it can be tougher to train it with kids.

"If you get an adult dog, I wouldn't be surprised if you have some problems, if that dog is a little bit more nervous around your children," Albright said. "That's why some folks choose to get a puppy."

Albright said it's not an exact science, there's nothing just about breed or just about environment that makes a dog aggressive.

But ultimately, keep a watchful eye on your kids when they're getting used to your pet.