Basenji Companions

Devoted to Basenjis as Pets

Basenjis and Babies

by Paul Fraser, ME

We had the dogs for four or five years before we had the first child, so the dogs were pretty spoiled already. On the day the baby came home we gathered the dogs and cats in the living room and brought in the baby. We set him down on the floor and unwrapped the swaddling and invited all to check out the newcomer. The dogs sniffed him all over, gave him a brief lick and then went about their business.

The only hint of a problem was that Chaka seemed to want to keep Thor away from the baby at first. We also had to limit the “grooming” that we allowed, or she would have spent hours each day licking the baby. Baby spent most of it’s time in the crib or in our arms or in his playpen. We were careful to make sure that good things happened when the baby was around (treats), and that the dogs got plenty of attention. There was never any sign of jealousy.

I believe that infants get “puppy tolerance”, and the dogs will let them get away with almost anything. I have a great picture of Kenyon crawling over Thor, and Thor, who did not particularly like children, just sitting there impassively.

When the infants become toddlers, you have to be much more careful, because the tolerance slips a little, and the dogs expect the child to have learned “dog manners.” From that point on, neither child was EVER left alone with a dog unless the child was secured. It means some added stress to the parent, but nothing more than a good parent should be expected to do, in my opinion.

Plus side

  • Your house is probably already baby-proofed.
  • Dogs are incredibly useful when raising a child! They provide early notice that a diaper needs changing.
  • They clean up all the Cheerio bits that get flung from the baby tray. A Basenji will also clean up a baby that has spit up all over itself, although my mother did not find that nearly as amusing as I did.
  • As the child gets older, a Basenji teaches that toys must get put away.
  • They teach a child that there’s no point in trying to carry a snack into another room, thus reinforcing that food belongs on the table, not on the floor or couch. We did have to teach the dogs “other room”, so that they would leave the kids alone at meal times. Then, as soon as we were finished, we called them in for cleanup duty.

Negative side

  • Plan to buy a lot of sippy-cups, bottle nipples, pacifiers and toys.
  • Plan to go to extreme lengths to secure soiled diapers, as they appear to be the favorite toy for Basenjis. A dog has a very different idea of what “disposable” means.
  • Plan for double-dooring all your entryways, as a toddler will not understand that the dog is not supposed to go out by itself, even if it asks politely.
  • Plan to spend a lot of your time actively watching your child – hey, it’s only good parenting anyway.

Copyright © 2013 by Paul Fraser
All rights reserved.

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This entry was posted on March 3, 2013 by in Tips and Training and tagged , , , , , .
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