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Canine Corner Reboot; Behaving Around Baby

Did you know Kristine used to have a segment in the Bay City Times? Canine Corner Reboots are small articles she wrote answering questions people sent to the paper. Most of them are still relevant today!

Dear Kristine:

My husband and I have a one-year-old border collie mix, and we just had a baby. Our dog has become very jealous and misbehaves when we give our son attention. I tried to give him special attention, but he still acts up. Please help.

It sounds like you have your hands full! A border collie is a very active, wonderful dog. The first thing I would recommend would be an obedience class. He needs to learn control so that you can give him attention for his appropriate behavior. (Not the inappropriate behavior)

The next best advice I can give would be some new, fun toys. The purpose of the toys is to distract him and keep him active while you are with the baby. I recommend buying a Kong. It’s made of hard rubber and is shaped like a beehive, but open on the bottom. It usually comes in red or black. You can pick it up at any pet supply store. Fill the Kong with some dog food and fill the hole up with a lot of peanut butter. You can even freeze it to increase play time.

Another good toy to try would be a treat ball. This would be a plastic ball or cube approximately 6 inches in diameter that you fill with treats. Holes in the ball allow the treats to fall out while he rolls it all around the house. Also, try giving him a nice bone to chew on.

You may want to pick more than one of the options listed above so he does not become bored. Here's the important part: these toys should not be left out! Pick them up and put them out of reach and sight. He only gets to play with them when you are paying attention to the baby. Keep the dog by you and the baby so you can praise him for his appropriate behavior. Soon, he will learn when it is time to play with his special toy(s) versus getting into mischief while you are with the baby. He has obviously learned when he can get into trouble, so this should not be hard to teach.

The toys are only going to buy you time, however. Start thinking about teaching your dog obedience. When your baby starts crawling and walking, you want to make sure you have good control over your dog. Your dog may be stressed about the baby. Most dogs become stressed around babies for one of three reasons: babies smell weird, look different, and make a very loud high-pitched sound. Other reasons include toddlers climbing and pulling on their hair. Exercise is a stress release, and very important for your dog; try releasing his energy before it’s time to ignore him. Take him running in the morning, so your dog will be ready to rest when you get up with the baby.

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