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From: Callie (
Subject:         Absolutely ... What Ellie said and ...
Date: April 25, 2008 at 2:13 pm PST

In Reply to: My Dog and Child posted by Al on April 23, 2008 at 5:22 am:

Everything she said is gold ...

do a Google search and plug this in:

"Nothing in life is free" dog

That will give you a broad range of hits to choose from and most are pretty good.

Teaching a child that age is pains-taking, but one thing you CAN do is teach her to FEED the dog. (closely supervise that one). In a dog pack it's the 'alpha' who feeds everyone else -- so YOU putting her in that capacity tells the dog a LOT. The dog needs to 'sit' (teach your daughter to TELl the dog "sit" and WAIT for the dog to do it and THEN offer the piece of kibble with a flat open hand). You might also teach 'stand' so she can alternate commands.

However, one of the things Ellie didn't emphasize, I will.

This is a border collie -- a herder of herders. This dog MUST work. This dog has to be feel productive and TIRED. A herder who isn't tired enough is a nervous herder (been there done it!!)

So, this dog needs THINGS to herd ... even toys. Take a bucket and some tennis balls out into the backyard. Literally throw them up in the air all at once and tell the dog to 'get' them. Putting a ball in the bucket gets a treat.

Sometimes when there is a new baby, suddenly the dog doesn't get quite the exercise it used to and for a herder that can be bad.

But I have to echo what Ellie said also -- first off, the child unseated the dog. Such a thing happens SO fast -- but this is where the parent has to get incredibly proactive.

a) does the dog have a 'bed' in the living area or an appropriate place TO lie? how about a crate or a gated off area that is a child-free zone?

b) sometimes we forget how much of a strain a baby can be on a dog -- and how a dog may feel compelled to "teach" this little human pup because WE have forgotten how the child's actions appear to a dog.

Things like staring at the dog (particularly with that 'wide-eyed' look some children have), or the stubborn insistance a child may have in wanting it's own way (rather than pulling gently on the paper the child YANKS and unseats the dog in a battle of 'mine' that is offensive to the dog on all fronts). Even the SOUND of a child's high pitched voice may say to a dog "this pup is pushing me to see where its boundaries are and I MUST show it!!"

Watch a mother with puppies -- she won't stand and bark loudly -- but she WILL utter a very low almost not loud enough to hear "growl" ... a warning sign both you and the child may miss. She may narrow her eyes ... the hackles may raise -- all of these are signs a PUPPY (a real dog puppy) will SEE and learn. But a human child won't notice.

So the dog thinks it's 'warned'.

But at the same time -- you can't allow a dog to ever put it's teeth on flesh. So ... be sure no games are used that even mildly might feel aggressive -- no tug of war, no "gimme that", no wrestling, etc.

But most of all the humans have to be completely switched on ALL the time. Not just with this dog, but with ANY dog. Simply because true accidents can happen SO fast and until a child is old enough to really shoulder the responsibility of their own actions, someone else has to watch and make sure it doesn't happen.

So a baby shouldn't be 'alone' with a dog EVER. And that doesn't mean to let an 8 year old watch the 'baby' either. Not even a teenager is going to be switched on enough to see trouble before it happens. That's a parent's job to be honest.

So that means when a sitter comes over to watch the baby, it's time for the dog to be crated or put in another secure room **JUST because**!! Preventing a problem is far far better than correcting one.

Make sense?

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