Newborn baby + spoiled basenji + anxious mother = problems

Hi all, we just brought our baby girl home a few days ago, and I've got some hurdles to get over in keeping this new family harmonious. My basenji Leroy has been sleeping at my feet for 7 years, and he's really weirded out by the change. I had a good action plan, but it all went south when my wife, being an understandably anxious and protective new mother, freaked out when Leroy bit at the baby's blanket while she was in it. I was holding her and nothing happened, but it's a good indicator that I need to work with Leroy to make sure he understands baby isn't to be messed with. I know he'll get there. It's just a lot to deal with right now. He also growled at my wife when she was forcing him by collar to go outside. All the activity and excitement that day affected his attention and obedience, and we were both a little rough with him at times when he wouldn't listen. With baby crying, Leroy jumping up to investigate, not listening to "off" when commanded… it was all very chaotic the first day, and now my wife is distrustful of Leroy. It got bad that night. He was forced to stay outside, scratching at the door and whimpering all night in frustration. We were already not getting any sleep, and with the dog and the baby crying all night, it was like a frickin' Calgon commercial. Anyway, my next move is to neuter Leroy. I feel it has to be done anyway because of his other behaviour issues. When it was just me and him, everything was fine. I could control his general bad-assery, and we were a pretty cool team. I had also planned to eventually breed him. Now, I feel like I really do need to have him neutered for everyone's sake. A lot of his behaviour is so ingrained at this point, neutering may not be the fix-all, but it will help. The other is to keep mama calm again when the baby and the dog are in the same room. I can cuddle the dog while she feeds the baby, etc. It will also be nice when we move the baby from the bassonet in our room to the crib in the nursery so Leroy can be in there with us again at night. I think that's what bothers him the most right now. Anyone else got tips they've used that have helped?

You may want to check out this website, http://www.livingwithkidsanddogs.com/

She has an advice column, online articles, and books that you can order about how to manage a household with kids and dogs.

I would also highly suggest that you consider a behavorist to work with the family and your Basenji.

And keep in mind that while neutering will help with any behaviors that are related to him being in-tact, the hormones take a couple of months to calm down, so it will not be immediate… and any already learned behaviors will not be resolved by neutering.

I would suggest everybody take a deep breath. A big mistake that new families make is changing the dog's routine upon the arrival of the baby. Not only are the humans all riled up because of the routine change, the dog picks up on their nervousness, and compounds the dog's anxiety about all the changes.

The best thing you can do is NOT change the dog's routine at this point, and try to go about business as usual. If the dog has never shown any aggression towards children or strangers before, he *probably won't right now either. Tugging on the blanket is not an indicator of baby hatred. I would suggest just keeping the baby and the dog from close contact, and try to keep the dog on the same routine. Then, when nerves have settled, do some fun intros with the dog and baby, where the dog thinks all kinds of good things happen when he is around the baby. For now, just try to have NO bad things happen when he is around the baby. If the baby is in a bassinet, couldn't the dog still sleep in the bedroom?

As you say all will be right, but its obviously very difficult for everyone to keep calm with all the excitement that a new baby brings without or with a happy or unhappy Basenji in the mix.

Has Leroy been crate trained? If so if you can remind of how great the crate is then he can be in the same space with you, Mom and baby, but all can be safe and relax - be it in the bedroom or living space.

If he is not used to a crate, whether currently or never been crated, take your time in crate training or refreshing him to the crate as you want him to associate the crate with only good things, never as a punishment or being excluded.

Another good website with great info and step by instructions is www.dogstardaily.com.

Good luck… and we look forward to seeing photos of the happy family in due course!

Thanks Andrea. I totally agree, and that's how I want things to go. I'll talk to my wife about keeping things routine for him, and try to curb the anxiety. I'll look back, and this whole thing is going to be funny. It didn't help that my mom came to visit, and she helped take the drama to a whole new level. I feel like the only calm and sane person in my house tight now. 🙂

Thanks JayCee. I'll have to reintroduce crating to him in a positive way. It's been his jail when I catch him getting into stuff. He's so cool. Always does his time like a man. When he knows he's in trouble, he hangs his head, and goes straight in without me even putting him in there.

@Elporkchoppo:

Thanks JayCee. I'll have to reintroduce crating to him in a positive way. It's been his jail when I catch him getting into stuff. He's so cool. Always does his time like a man. When he knows he's in trouble, he hangs his head, and goes straight in without me even putting him in there.

That is really not a good approach for a crate… it should always be a good place, should not be used as punishment?

Hi, I am in Silverdale, cross the water from you. Where did you get your basenji from?
I agree with the info above. You have your life totally turned upside down with baby, and if the dog isn't included, you have another member of the family causing issues.
We are here to help you.

If might help to know - when you talk to your wife about Andrea's suggestions (Quercus) - she has three young kids I believe, two of which are twins and several basenjis….so she knows of what she speaks. :O)


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@sinbaje:

If might help to know - when you talk to your wife about Andrea's suggestions (Quercus) - she has three young kids I believe, two of which are twins and several basenjis….so she knows of what she speaks. :O)

Thanks Linda 🙂 This is true, we have a 6-year old, and two-year old twins….and when we brought the first baby home it was a little rough, and we did a few things wrong; mostly because we had too much family, and too much disruption going on. But by the time we brought the twins home...the dogs were like 'whatever... more food dispensers!'

@sinbaje:

If might help to know - when you talk to your wife about Andrea's suggestions (Quercus) - she has three young kids I believe, two of which are twins and several basenjis….so she knows of what she speaks. :O)

AND she was a zookeeper before she had kids. Now she's "just" a dog trainer and kid wrangler. :p (at least that's all the jobs I know she has.) Either way, she's has lots of experience with animals, kids and she's an all around smart cookie.

Aww…thanks girls...you are making me blush 🙂

@Quercus:

Aww…thanks girls...you are making me blush 🙂

LOL, Andrea… all true!!!!

Thanks guys. You've been great. I forgot to mention that I also have my mother-in-law, and 11 year old niece staying with us for 2 weeks. The niece is afraid of dogs. Before this, we were at the hospital for a week, and my friend took care of Leroy. His whole world is flipped. I feel bad for my little dude. Last night was already a big improvement though. I'm confident we'll all get along fine. 🙂

Though I know not much of a comparison to a new baby, we recently had 4 visitors staying at our house - 2 of which were young kids. Tayda has been known to be impatient with children. Never bitten or anything, but definitely showing body language that she is uncomfortable when "little people" approach her. She has lunged toward children before, never biting, but more of a "back off" move.

We basically told the kids from the get go to COMPLETELY IGNORE the dogs. When we walked in, of course the dogs ran up to them to investigate, and we told them to just turn away and ignore them. We all went about our business with me and Ondrej giving them their normal attention but the kids ignored them. Over the course of the week - we would give treats to the kids to give the dogs and slowly let them pet the dogs after they told the dog to sit (and the dog responded by - sitting. lol)

By the end of the 2 weeks - all was well and kids/dogs were harmonious. Cuddling together and sharing the "dogs couch."

I think it just helped the dogs to warm up to the kids on "their terms" vs being bombarded with strange people/smells/actions. By the time we let the kids pet the dogs - the dogs were dying to get some affection and attention from the strange new little beings in the house.

just my 2 cents.

Hope everything works out for you all.
I can understand where your wife is coming from, sometimes when you have a baby it triggers all sorts of instincs and can make you very aware of danger. After all the new human is totaly dependant on you to keep it safe.
I bet Leroy was more interested in stealing the blanket than in the baby.
When i had a Dalmation bitch many years ago a friend brought her new baby around and Amy put her mouth around his foot which was in a babygro, i was mortified but think that she thought the baby was a toy or something. She certainly didn't mean to hurt the baby and was very gentle.

It seems that like your wife, Leroy is also having a very traumatic time. So many things happening at the same time natural of course witha new baby in the family.

I endorse all the others say but I would think that changing to 'kind' crate training when it has been used as a punishment will not be a quick term answer although essential too because it can be his 'getaway' when your little one is older or if he feels overwhelmed with visitors.

Quercus, as usual is spot on, and now I know why - the secret's out!! What a very busy and clever lady.

Try to get back to a normal routine for Leroy. I always advise any one who brings a new baby home to act to the Basenji as you would an older sibling - make a lot of fuss of the Basenji before making a fuss of the baby so he realises that he has not been replaced by this 'little stranger' and get jealous.

However it's difficult to really advise without knowing the family and the situation.

It's a difficult situation, but having a young child and dogs can be a great combination.

When I was pregnant of Ryan (Ryan is 9months now) we let the dogs be a part of everyting.
We planned that the dogs must keep their place at our family.
They didn't had a change with anything, only for us it was a bit harder because we wanted to keep the exact same routine in the family.
They see Ryan as a brother, because of the fact we give them the same treatment.

It's wrong that your Basenji bite into the blancet but there must be a reason behind it, maybe he feels left behind while he was your baby before your other baby was born?

Maybe you could start also with taking him with you while you care for the baby.
For example, when you are going to give the baby a bath, talk to Leroy and ask him to come along, let him look into the bathroom what you are doing and speak to him..
Chafuko loves it to sit underneath the baby bath and just keep an eye on what's going on..

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