Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Walking with Basenjis and Baby

Now that the Bs and I are getting used to having our new little bundle of joy, my 2-month-old son Declan, around the house, we're starting to get a little bolder in our attempts to venture out of the house as a group.  My intention has always been to try to continue to walk the pups once a day as I had always done before, since all dogs need their structured daily exercise in addition to running around after squirrels all day in our fenced backyard.  However, since I can't very well leave the baby home alone, daily walks now mean that we ALL have to find a way to go out together.  Of course that's easier said than done, but slowly we're finding a way to make it work.  The dogs are  learning not to walk in front of the stroller or too close to the wheels (that's where the command "Left!" that they know from our running days comes in handy!), and I am learning how to drive the stroller with one hand and hold the leashes in the other, so that when the dogs see a squirrel and jerk the leash they don't jerk the entire stroller too!

Reef and Biko cool off in the shade of the stroller

So far, we're all adjusting well to our new walking style, and the dogs are definitely enjoying me being on maternity leave because that means our walks occur in the middle of the day while there's still bright sunshine to be had!  My only worry in all of this is that because my BRAT boy Biko is still very reactive to other dogs (and by "reactive" I mean that he goes Cujo on them), I am very nervous about what we will do when we're unwillingly approached by an off-leash dog.  Previously when this happened (albeit rarely, since there ARE leash laws where we live in New Jersey) I was always able to just cross to the other side of the street and walk a little faster, and possibly even run with my dogs to get away from a potential dog fight between Biko and an oncoming off-leash dog.  Now, however, we've got the stroller and the baby with us, so a quick getaway isn't going to be possible. 

To help us deal with this problem, I'm trying to work with Biko on being less reactive around other dogs, although admittedly I'm not making much headway right now since I've got a newborn baby to care for.  Also, I bought us some pet-safe citronella spray (like this one) to clip onto the stroller that will hopefully deter oncoming dogs in the event that we're approached by an off-leash dog not under their owner's control.  I haven't had to use it yet and I hope that I never do, but just in case -- we're prepared! 

So, so far so good in the group-walking department, and the dogs seem to be getting used to walking with the stroller and the strange little creature in it.  Now, all we need are some more of these beautiful, sunny fall days, and we'll be all set!!


  1. How wonderful that you are having a warm fall and getting out with Declan and the B's on walks. I love your idea of the citronella just in case you need it and I am going to get some too. I live in a very small town with loose dogs running everywhere (it seems most are rottweilers) and walking my B-girl every evening can be terrifying with me looking for a nearby truck box to quickly put her in when dogs come running at us. I have to walk her thru town to get to the other side where the campground is and all dogs are leashed there, then we can finally relax and really enjoy the walk.

  2. We had two basenjis when our daughter was born (one has since passed.) Living on base with no fenced in area, we had to take multiple walks a day. About two months later, my husband deployed for six months. I learned to perfect my methods, and the overwhelming easiest thing (for me) was using a chest carrier for my daughter and then when she was older, a backpack-type carrier. I fully admit I'm not good at using a stroller, and with curbs, runners, dogs, squirrels and birds, having full control with a leash in each hand with her on my back was the best method for us. Those walks ended up being the best respite for me, and our walks ended up growing longer and longer. Enjoy your walks and your family! Your methods sound to be working great, keep it up!