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Behavioral Changes After New Baby

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This my first post. I apologize if this isn't posted in the right area.

 

My wife and I have a 7 year old female border collie named Sydney. She is very well trained, knows all her toys by name, and is absolutely obsessed with her frisbee. She was our baby for 6 years, and went to the park every day to play frisbee and swim in the pond.

 

14 months ago my wife and I had our first baby, and understandably Sydney gets a lot less attention than she used to. She still gets walked every day, and gets to the park at least every week, but her behavior is starting to deteriorate. She's become much more anxious. She barks at dogs on the street more. She barks at dogs on walks. She is slower to obey commands, if she obeys them at all. I tried making a point to get her to the park every day to pay for at least 30 minutes but we just don't have the time anymore. I tried taking her running with me but she hated it so much that for a while she even refused to go for a walk.

 

We love Sydney and we don't want her health to suffer just because our family got bigger. If anyone else in this group has gone through a similar situation I'd love to hear from you.

 

Cheers,

Graeme

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Baring anything medical going on (might be worth a vet check with blood work) I think the answer may be that you need to have more quality time with her. It doesnt have to be the park but it does have to be something that she finds mentally fulfilling. A BC at that age is still in their prime and a lack of something meaningful can lead to those behaviors.

 

Maybe look into an online class that you can do at home? Nosework? Shaping new pet tricks? Canine conditioning activities? All can be done in 10 min here and there sessions. Fenzi academy has some good one.

 

Instead of walks maybe find new hiking trails where you can get both your dog and baby out?

 

Get some treat dispensing toys for meal time.

 

Maybe theres a toss and fetch frisbee league nearby for a once a week outing with her? There are some parents who bring their youngsters to our local one.

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The only solution is to spend ore time with the dog.

If you had a child, and then a new baby came, you would not neglect your first child. You'd find a way to give both what they need.

 

A border collie is as smart as a young child, and she needs your attention. Mara's advice is good. If you can't get her out to the park every day then spend time teaching her new things in the house on a daily basis and tell her how great she is when she learns them. Take her for a long walk or hike every weekend.

 

She doesn't understand what is going on, why your behavior toward her would change so greatly, and that is her anxiety. She needs you to make time for her. Please do.

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The only solution is to spend ore time with the dog.

If you had a child, and then a new baby came, you would not neglect your first child. You'd find a way to give both what they need.

 

A border collie is as smart as a young child, and she needs your attention. Mara's advice is good. If you can't get her out to the park every day then spend time teaching her new things in the house on a daily basis and tell her how great she is when she learns them. Take her for a long walk or hike every weekend.

 

She doesn't understand what is going on, why your behavior toward her would change so greatly, and that is her anxiety. She needs you to make time for her. Please do.

 

Where's the Like button?

 

I know this will sound harsh and I don't mean it to be. . . .

 

You're concerned with the dog's health to suffer, and by that I assume you also mean her mental health. You've lavished a lot of attention on this dog before the baby came -- dogs, even border collies, don't learn all the things you describe without their owners' active involvement with them -- and she doesn't have that anymore because you now have something in your lives that's more important to you than she is.

 

Many border collies make great family dogs, but many absolutely. do. not. It's already been 14 months and Sydney hasn't adjusted to the new lifestyle. In fact, quite the opposite. From your description her mental health and behavior are continuing to deteriorate.

 

If I were in this situation I would feel compelled to have a thoroughly honest heart-to-heart with my spouse to assess whether we could realistically give the dog the attention she needs. If the answer is yes, then you owe it to Sydney to follow through with it. If the answer is no -- and I stress here that there should be no blame in making an honest assessment of what accommodations you're capable and willing to make for her -- then it's probably in Sydney's best interest to find another home where she can be the focus of more attention, or relinquish her to a reputable rescue that has the ability to carefully screen applicants to make the best match for her. A lot of border collies end up going into rescue when children arrive on the scene.

 

I wish your family and Sydney only the best going forward.

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I'd like to add that training sessions need not even take 10 minutes. A couple minutes, just enough to capture a behavior that you want to encourage, here and there can work wonders.

 

You may be making a difficult decision here. I wish you and your family the best.

 

Ruth & Gibbs

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I'd like to add that training sessions need not even take 10 minutes. A couple minutes, just enough to capture a behavior that you want to encourage, here and there can work wonders.

 

You may be making a difficult decision here. I wish you and your family the best.

 

Ruth & Gibbs

 

Thank you, ruth. This is a very good point.

You don't have to carve out an hour to spend each day concentrating on the dog.

You can reinforce her already learned behaviors all throughout the day.

You can teach a new trick in 3 minute sessions each day while waiting for the baby's food to warm up.

You can have her do two or three tricks to get bedtime biscuits

You can, if you only have five open minutes, simply spend it petting her and telling her you love her.

You can take her and the baby on a walk around the block

 

There are so many things.

Just work them into the daily routine a little bit here and there. Your can rehome your dog if you are absolutely not willing to remain attnetive to her, and as Ruth says, if that is needed then you should not feel bad about it as long as you don't just take her to the poound of let anyone who comes along have her (which I am sure you wouldn't do!). Surrender her to border collie rescue, if you have to, and they will find a good place for her. But she will be happier, I think, to stay with you and simply get more attention. Try, anyway. We will be here to support you if we can.

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BTW, looking at my reply reminds me that I still work w/Gibbs, (10 yrs old) in exactly that way. Most walks he has to do something a little bit extra ~ turn in a circle, back up, wag his tail ~ yes, I put that on cue.

 

It makes it more fun for me, certainly, and I hope for him as well.

 

Ruth

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I would have her checked over real good by the vet. Check thyroid, check hearing, blood work. I know a border collie that had anxiety issues due to borderline thyroid results, they went away after the hormone treatment. They were purely behavioral changes, the thyroid only came up because I had specifically asked for this test to be done.

 

I have a border collie that started going deaf at the age of 5, which I only noticed because she works sheep and she stopped obeying me at distances. When she was close it was hardly noticeable, because she took clues form routine, context, body language, and she filled the gaps this way. But at about 6 yo her behavior started to change she was more jumpy, aggressive towards other dogs, she was anxious, and depressed. In my opinion, she was feeling that I wasn't communicating with her and it was weighing on her, making her depressed. (I may also add that I showed her behavior to many people and only the most experienced realized it was hearing that was the problem.) She is now 8 yo and things calmed down a bit.

 

It seems to me that you are actually trying to compensate Sydney for the arrival of the baby, and after a year and a half, she should have adjusted at least some. And really, households that start out with one border collie and end up with five, probably "neglect" the first border collie more than a family with one border collie and one baby. So I am concerned that she has not adapted after almost a year and half and that she actually hated to run with you. My dogs don't care what I do, if I take one to go and sit on the bench; they love it because they are having a one on one time with me. And I have four dogs.

 

So I don't disagree with the previous advice, but I would suggest you have a good hard look at her health as well.

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I would first consider a health issue as well.

 

Also, I am guessing that the humans in the house are experiencing stress (a good stress, but stress nonetheless) of having a very young child in the home? Lack of sleep, etc. She might be reacting to that stress herself.

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Vet checks are always a good idea whenever behavioral issues arise. Even when the cause may see obvious there's always the possibility that there's something medical going on.

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Vet checks are always good, but I read "new baby" and my eyebrows climbed.

It is not at all uncommon for dogs, especially border collies, to end up re-homed or in rescue after a new baby enters the family. Think about it from the dog's standpoint.

One day, out of nowhere, this tiny thing appeared in the house. It's alive, but what is it? It smells funny, makes all sorts of noises - baby screams and shrieks can freak dogs right out - and the humans are now reacting in new and unusual ways to the things this little creature does. The household daily routine has dramatically changed, the nights are no longer silent, the days are punctuated with baby-oriented behaviors and goings-on ... Then as the baby grows and learns to walk, the dog may be alarmed at the baby's erratic movements, weird behaviors and unpredictably loud vocalizations.


So far as the dog knows, she just acquired a shrill, smelly, erratic, unpredictable, unstable and completely incomprehensible alien life form as an unexpected roommate, and that has turned the humans' into kind of weird, sleep-deprived versions of their old selves. :P

Which is not meant as a slight to you at all, I'm just trying to illustrate what an enormous change has come into this dog's life. Heck, I was at dinner with hubby and a friend last night when a toddler child let loose a shriek in the booth behind me. I almost jumped out of my seat! :ph34r: That can be a lot for a dog to contend with.

I would thus echo what others have said. Carve out a lot more little moments and special times for the dog, the same as you would for a first child, and possibly look at the long term ramifications for her.

Wishing you nothing but luck! This is a hard situation to face.

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I think Gloria's scenario is very plausible (with the exception of babies being smelly to dogs, considering hat canine mothers do with their puppies' poo for the first few weeks :lol: ), but it is not the only possible one in relation to a new baby, IMO.

 

I think dogs do understand the concept of a "human puppy" very well. It is their primary instinct to accept offspring of the "chief couple". And as much as people like to "baby" their dogs, those dogs know they are a younger member of the pack where the humans are chief providers of food and all things good. When my Kelly had her second litter, her daughter from the first litter was a puppy-sitter for them. She knew how lick them, how to watch them. Kelly, who spent a lot of time with the first litter, the second time around was there mostly to feed the pups, and left the puppy sitting to her daughter, who was very willing to take on this role. The large berner was a guardian for the little ones.

 

So in my opinion, dogs know that a baby is "human puppy", and while they may feel sidelined at first, by 14 months they should have their more primary instincts kick in, to care for the new member of the "pack". The only problem I would see if the dog had thought all along before the baby came that she was the chief member.

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What everyone else has said is right on the mark and unfortunately you need to make the time for your dog several times are day. BCs are a working breed, they need to be active, they need a job to do. A walk on lead 1-2x a day just doesnt cut it for this breed and sadly this is why often they dont make great family dogs. I have a 20month old son, so I do understand your position, however from the day my son came home from hospital we have ensured our bc still got the same/similar amount of activity and attention he got before babys arrival including 1 off lead walk/park visit a day (and another lead walk). Taking baby to the park or beach or river for a walk so the dog can have a run or swim. While baby sleeps I often do some training, tricks or play sessions with the dog in our yard. On the days both my husband and I work, we take turns getting up at 5:30am to walk the dogs, and then again in the evening, often just a quick 10mins at the park, but atleast its better than nothing and they get to have a run and sniff off our property. On wet or cold evenings I set up obstacle course in our living room (pillows, broomsticks on stools) and just play around with him for 5-10mins. For bcs often 5-10mins mental stimulation (tricks etc) is so beneficial.

Dont give up, you just have to get creative in finding 5-10min slots throughout the day which is just 1on1 with your dog, so they know they are still a much loved and respected member of the family

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