Border Collie accepting new Baby

So looking back over the past several months with Ned and Jack living under one roof it’s been interesting. Luckily we’ve had zero “real” problems, no accidents or unpleasant run-ins but we did have a few things that surprised us.

Personal Space

As mentioned last post Ned spent several weeks giving Jack his room. By no means did he avoid our little poop machine but was not getting in close and personal for licks or close sniffing. He left a pretty defined personal space” buffer between himself and Jack which was just fine by us. We had expected Ned to be licking and sniffing Jack all the time as he tends to be a pretty high contact type of dog…not the case. It sounds nuts and cliché but it really did seem like Ned “knew” to be very careful around this new little person. I’m sure our personal demeanor was part of it as well but it was a nice surprise to not have to worry about it at first. Of course this didn’t last forever.

Babies are delicious

After the first 3 or 4 weeks Ned became much more comfortable with Jack around and we had to start keeping watch…not because of any aggression problem but because Ned discovered Jack was delicious. The baby licking had started.

He started with stealing a lick on his sticky little hands, then discovered the feet, moved to the ears and then, to our dismay, the face. We’d try to catch him and correct but that tongue is pretty quick and sometimes would get through. Drove me nuts…I’m not a germ freak by any means but we’re dealing with a newborn here and I did not want any weird funk or infections. Again we did not want to freak out or make it a big huge negative thing for the dog or the kid but, at the same time, we just can’t have the dog licking the babies face. So we approached it like anything else with Ned. For several days we made a very specific effort to correct the behavior the second it even looked like Ned was going to try to lick Jack. Within a few days he got the idea pretty well and inside of a week he’d come in for a sniff, resist the urge to lick, and be on his way. A little positive reinforcement and all was well…no more baby licking.

Here is a quick series of three photos showing Ned’s Ninja like baby licking ability. I’m holding Jack while out at a friend’s property for a photo taken by my wife. You can see from the first photo Jack sees Ned coming from the bottom right…but I don’t. You can see that by this point in time Jack finds Ned hilarious. The second photo is right before I “get” what is happening and the third is Jack watching Ned run off. These photos are taken within a few seconds…

He gets him right on the kisser…we had to put a stop to it!

Constant watch

While Ned did not invade Jacks personal space the first month or so he was never far away. When Jack was sleeping in his crib Ned would lay down next to it. When Jack was hanging out in the swing chair Ned was not more than 2 feet away. And when Jack was breastfeeding Ned was always laying at my wife’s feet. We had worried Ned “didn’t like” the kid at first (which is insane…we know) as he seemed not to pay too much attention we quickly realized Jack was now a member of the pack just like we were.

The most interesting example of this was a time when my wife and I were in the kitchen chatting while Jack was napping in his crib in the next room. We heard Jack start to wake up and fuss a little bit. Were as before we’d always run right in we were, at that time, in the process of letting Jack start to “self sooth” when he woke up for a few minutes before we’d head in. Well Ned was not having it. He got up from his post next to the crib, came around the corner to look at us and then gave a very low “woof” while giving us that Border Collie stare. As Jack started to cry a little louder Ned looked back into the room with the crib, them back to us and woofed a bit louder and took a step or two towards us. He wanted to make sure we heard the little guy was up!

Crying is Upsetting

Babies cry. In our experience so far they cry a lot. Like a lot a lot. What I never considered was that the crying and screaming and hollering seems to bum Ned out. When Jack really gets going Ned will sort of sulk out of the room like he’s done something wrong…it’s very odd. Sometimes he gives us this really emotional big eyed / ears down look where you’d swear he’s wondering what the heck is wrong with the little screaming thing and why won’t it stop? It got to the point that every time Jack started to fuss or cry Ned would leave the room and let me tell you…that kept Ned on the move for a while. Eventually we’d call him over and reassure him all was well and encourage him to stay in the room with us. Eventually of course Jack would quiet down. After just a few days of this Ned now does not even seem to notice when Jack is crying…he just hangs out. Not sure if it makes any difference to the dog but it makes us feel better at least.

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Comments

  1. Billie J Plester says

    I have read two separate pieces of your blog and have made notes! I have a Border Collie (under a year old) who has attachment issues and has a lot of attention from my partner and I, but we are now expecting our first baby in July! I have found your note very helpful and am grateful that people like yourself take time to write blogs for people stuck between a rock & a hard place like myself! I’m going to put my notes made into a poster-type routine on the wall in the hope that it works for me! Thanks again!

  2. says

    Billie,

    Congrats on the new addition! Routine is going to be *critical* for you to keep your sanity with the new baby and the dogs needs…especially if there are attachment issues. It’s the only thing that got us through…we started with no idea of routine and is was a nightmare. Takes some time and effort but well worth it! Enjoy that baby!

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