Introducing our Basenji to our brand new baby girl in a few days, looking for advice!

Hi all! Long time lurker on these forums but first time posting. Apologies if this is the wrong subforum for this sort of thing.

As the title says we just brought home a beautiful baby girl a few days ago and are adapting to our new routine as first-time parents. In the meantime, our 1-year-old female (spayed) Basenji has been at the breeder's frolicking with the other wild Basenjis to give us a bit of space and time to adapt. Pretty soon we will be re-introducing our furry girl to the household, which will have grown one member larger! A few details about our situation:

  • Our Basenji has had very limited experience meeting children/babies, as she was brought home just before lockdown and we've had very little contact with anyone since. Just one brief encounter with a friend's infant and young child, which went pretty well.
  • We live in a very small apartment in the city, no yard. Our Basenji gets her exercise at the dog park running and wrestling with other dogs 1-2 times a day.
  • Our Basenji is, like most, a huge cuddle bug, but also extremely high energy and gets very slappy when she wants to play. I'd say our biggest concern would be if she decides she wants to play with the baby and swats at her to get a reaction.

Some of the standard advice we've heard is to be sure to pay lots of attention to our Basenji to be sure she doesn't feel neglected/jealous, and generally to include her as much as possible in our new day-to-day routine. That said, I would love any advice anyone could offer specific to our rambunctious breed... Thanks so much!

My primary thoughts:

  1. Introduce them in a neutral area, the same way you would introduce a new sister-pup. And,
  2. Every time you take the baby for a walk, take your dog along with you.

btw... Congratulations!!!

last edited by elbrant

@elbrant Thank you! Yes, we’re anticipating a LOT of family walks together, haha. By neutral territory I’m assuming you mean somewhere other than our home? Kind of unsure what would be a suitable place...

@basenjired - Not to be critical, but this is something that you should have started before the baby came... in my opinion. I do understand that since Covid, things have been different, but many behaviorist have on line instruction. Would have helped to have a behaviorist that knows this situation and could have helped you through this... I disagree with the idea to introduce a human baby with a dog in a place other then the home. Right now you need to take baby things that have her scent on them to your breeders so that she gets the smell, scent... Ask your breeder is there are other Basenjis that she has placed and how that introduction was done? And also never leave the Basenji alone in the same room with the baby.... she should however be with you and the baby for all other things...

last edited by tanza

@basenjired If I am understanding correctly, you have had your dog for a year now and it's been visiting the breeder during the babies birth... yes? So, the dog is already established in your family. No doubt, smelling, sniffing and sensing the changes your body has been going through.

I like @tanza's suggestion to take blankets and whatnot with the babies scent on it. That provides the pup a chance to associate (and later recognize) the babies scent.

I generally don't recommend crating a dog, but do you, or have you trained your dog to accept a crate? I was going to suggest that you take the baby to pick up your pup from the breeder. Can you safely bring both of them home in the car, together? A crate in the car may be the only option for the two to travel together. Another consideration is going to be the dog's excitement and energy level. While I don't know what would be the best time or place, but choosing someplace where the dog is calm and controlled seems paramount to me.

None of my Basenjis have been difficult around babies. Curious yes, but gentle and tentative even about sniffing at a little one. Some have been leery of toddlers. Agree totally with Tanza that dog and baby should never be left alone together. That said, close supervision and making sure the dog receives extra attention to guard against jealousy should help things along. Be ready to intervene instantly if the dog should attempt anything that could be harmful to the child, but I'm guessing things will go well if you encourage the dog to be quiet and respectful.

@elbrant - Disagree, the Basenji and the baby need to be introduced in the home...and do not think that bringing the Baby to pick up the Basenji....is the best thing to do.... and they need to get a behaviorist to talk to them about this.... this is not something for people that have not done this to make suggestions. The people that I know that had a Basenji and introduced a Basenji (or any dogs for that matter) is that when the baby was brought in the home... He/She was put on the floor and let the dog approach the baby... of course with lots of supervision... the dog and the baby will bond... again this is what I have heard from other in this situation.. but not ones that place the dog outside the home and then brought the dog home and "surprise" look what we have..... again I highly suggest you talk to a behaviorist...

last edited by tanza

@tanza said in Introducing our Basenji to our brand new baby girl in a few days, looking for advice!:

@elbrant - Disagree ... [snipped] ... do not think that bringing the Baby to pick up the Basenji....is the best thing to do....

@tanza, you misunderstood, I was suggesting that they get a crate for any time they are traveling with both dog and child. And that they should introduce the dog and child in a place where the dog is calm and can be controlled. I'm sorry I didn't convey my thoughts more clearly.

@elbrant Dogs in cars should ALWAYS be in crates, regardless if there are also human puppies present.

Imagine having an accident and a frightened, possibly hurt, Basenji is running around the highway ?

last edited by Zande

@zande - For sure on that Zande.... human children are secured, a dog is no different....

I think it could well have been a mistake to put the Basenji out of the house at all. OK, you needed time to adjust to the new human but now you have created a totally unnecessary problem.

I have often sold puppies to childless couples, only to find a baby came along soon. The Basenji was in each case, part of the welcoming comittee, and took instantly to the baby (Basenjis love babies !).

One yearling bitch even, to Mom's horror, pushed her way past Mom who was changing the baby on the bathroom floor, licked the baby clean and then tried to eat the soiled diaper. She was keeping the village clean, as it would have been her duty to do in a native village. Instinct, primordial reaction.

Then along came a second baby to that family and by the time the Basenji shuffled off this mortal coil, aged about 14 as I recall, the girls had had an excellent up-bringing from her and had never known life without a Basenji.

Bring the Basenji back home, make a great fuss of her, let her know something exciting is happening now she is back, and then bring the baby into the room, careful get down on the floor and let the Basenji sniff. Yes - @tanza has the right of it, take something smelling of baby to let Basenji have an idea in advance.

But don't delay. You need the Basenji's help to bring up your daughter !

Take care, of course, and don't leave them alone in a room, be vigilant, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how the Basenji takes to the baby. It will bring out all her maternal instincts.

Of course, a great deal will depend on your attitude. If you show nerves or hesitancy the Basenji will wonder why. This is all a perfectly natural happening - take it in your stride and the Basenji will too.

last edited by Zande

@zande - I do agree with you Zande, but since she was already removed from the house, didn't seem to be an option any longer. That said I too have placed Basenjis with childless couples and then they had human babies after that... they (human Mom/Dad and the Basenji) raised those boys born 2yrs apart. After that Basenji passed, I placed another from our 2019 litter with them...
There was also a couple that was advised by a behaviorist to bring home from the hospital item that smelled like the baby... which they did. Also when they got home with the baby they put him on the floor with a blanket and let the Basenji (Kenji) sniff and lick the baby, they were fast buds forever.
So again I will suggest you contact a behaviorist for advise at this point... and before hiring one, ask what their suggests are.... if the response is to keep the pup away from the baby, that IMO is not the right approach.
Also agree with what was said to make a fuss over the Basenji... include her in what you are doing with the baby. That is important that they are including in all that the family does. Let us know how it goes.

last edited by tanza

@tanza said in Introducing our Basenji to our brand new baby girl in a few days, looking for advice!:

if the response is to keep the pup away from the baby, that IMO is not the right approach.

Agree there ! That would be a cause to sack the behaviourist - immejutely.

Wearing new baby in a sling can meet the needs of the baby, whilst freeing up hands for basenji affection!

@zande said in Introducing our Basenji to our brand new baby girl in a few days, looking for advice!:

Dogs in cars should ALWAYS be in crates,

I appreciate that, however, not all cars are made for crates. There are many cars that cannot contain a crate. I happen to have one, so instead of a crate, Doodle is tethered to a seat belt. Not the best solution, but the best one for our situation.

@elbrant - Having a restraint is the important thing.... the thing about a seat belt is that in an accident or a hard stop the dog will be thrown forward, so if in a harness, could damage the ribs... but it is an option is a crate is not going to work.

When my daughter was pregnant she would stop by once a week and Izzy would always sniff her all over , most of all her stomach and around that area, her husband was afraid of Izzy being around the baby when he came , because Izzy is not a real friendly basenji especially to my son in law. Izzy has never had any aggression toward my grandson, my grandson is 7 now and Izzy is always there to protect him, when the grandson goes down the stairs Izzy is just one step in front of him like he is protecting him from falling. I don't know about other basenjis but Izzy loves kids, but not a lot of adults.

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