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Canine Behavior/Jealous Dog



I have a 6 year old English Bulldog. When I'm with him he behaves perfectly fine... however when my mom comes over to babysit my 3 year old daughter he acts up.  For example he'll grab toys and run away with it so my mom will chase him and get the toy from him... or when my mom is giving my daughter a bath he finds a trash can, knocks it over, and chews everything up.  A couple times he even peed in his own bed while my mom was giving my daughter a bath.  I dont know how to fix this because he doesnt behave that way when I'm home. I believe he's jealous and wants my mom's full attention however he doesnt seem to respect her.  Do you have any advise?  Thanks :)


Thank you for your question. It does sound like your dog is making efforts to gain your mother's attention - and it appears to be working as I'm guessing that your mom does chase after him when he gets a toy, or interrupts the bath to deal with the trash picking.

Peeing on his own bed actually sounds more like an anxiety behavior rather than an attention seeking behavior, so it's possible that there's multiple things happening.

I wonder how you mother interacts with him when she's there. Does she engage him, play with him, talk to him, give him treats, toss toys, pet him, etc? Or is all of her attention on her beautiful granddaughter? While you can't necessarily answer this question for when she's babysitting, what ineractions have you observed between her and the dog when you are present?

Does the dog seem to like her? Does she like the dog?

Does your dog have any obedience skills such as Sit, Down (lie down), Leave It, Stay, etc? Does he have long lasting chew toys (e.g. nylabones, marrow bones, antlers, bully sticks, everlasting chew toy, etc) or interactive food puzzle toys that you use such as Kongs, Tricky Treat Balls, Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble or others?

This may be as eaasy as just providing him with a snack Kong when she needs to bathe the baby or other activities where her attention can't be divided between the dog and the baby. You can fill a Kong with individual items or mixtures of things. I tend to mix down high fat items such as peanut butter or cream cheese with lower fat items such as nonfat plain yogurt, applesauce (no corn syrup), low fat cottage cheese, pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree, etc. You can mix these items together, fill the Kong and then freeze it so that you have them ready to go. Then, when it's bath time, give the dog an activity to occupy him. If necessary, you can confine him to a room where he can't cause damage such as a bedroom that doesn't have trash cans within access. Or if he is comfortable in a crate, then he can have his Kong inside his crate. Do this as a routine activity with you when you're home regularly so that it's not just associated with the more stressful situations of your mom babysitting when you're not home.

It might be useful to set up a video camera and record a day of babysitting so you can see what the interactions look like so we can see if there are triggers to his behavior. If we can identify specific situations or actions that prompt him to do these things (especially the peeing on his bed), it can guide us in how best to modify the behavior.

One thing she may try is making sure she takes him outside for a potty break just before she does bath time or some other activity that typically prompts the peeing on the bed. Or if he's doing it in the same room as her while she's interacting with your daughter, it may be that your mom should do that activity with your daughter in another room as it might be making the dog uncomfortable.

One thing to keep in mind (regarding behaviors like grabbing a toy and running away) is that dogs do behaviors that work for them. That means that he's getting something reinforcing out of the behavior. It may be as easy as he enjoys running around with something in his mouth and your daughter's toy is the closest thing to him. It could be that he's trying to engage your mom in play and if she does chase after him, then his behavior is quite successful for him. The best way to change this behavior is to refrain from chasing after him at all if he grabs a toy and runs away. Instead, walk calmly into another room, get an appropriate toy, come into his sight and start playing with it. Make the appropriate toy more interesting than the toy he shouldn't have. Run away from the dog (or trot or walk briskly) with the appropirate toy and see if she can convince the dog to come to her and make the trade for the right toy - and then play with him for a few minutes with the appropriate toy.

Also, getting ahead of the dog's behavivor - grabbing one of his own toys and inviting him to play before he thinks to grab one of your daughter's - can dramatcially help curb the undesired behavior. And then he may relax enough that your mom can focus for a while on your daughter without worrying so much about the dog's behavior.

I hope some of these ideas prove helpful. Please feel free to followup if you can provide any further details about the interactions that may assist in more specific suggestions for your particular situation.

Los Angeles Behavior Specialist

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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