Multiple issues with Basenji
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    Our B, Mowgli, has got my wife and I too the point of entertaining putting her up for adoption. She was in 3 different homes from age 0-1 before we took her on. She was not crated before and we have decided that it is not an option. We have tried crate games etc and she is not about to go in there. We had been leaving her in a bedroom with the door closed and she did great with this for 4 months. Occasional chewing on the window sill and the fitted sheet over the futon that she slept on. Since then my wife has become a stay at home mom to be (1 week away from a baby being added to our pack). This was also around the time our neighborhood decided it was time to light off fireworks 16 hrs a day. Our seperation anxiety riddled B is on 2 medications and obviously a new routine with the wife at home. We would only leave Mowgli in her room for 4 hrs at most (as opposed to 8 hrs when things were good and we were both working). With the fireworks and new routine Mowgli decided to chew the futon down to the springs. Since then we have gotten rid of the matress and have a bare room. She has now started relieving herself in the room and tearing up anything she can (door, shades, blankets, dog beds). She gets more than enough excercise. One long walk a day and play time in our fenced in backyard. We are at the point that we can not have her tear up the bedroom anymore (the wood she chews off the door has caused jagged edges, when she jumped up on the door she cut herself on the wood). So my options are to buy a indestructable crate to put her in, give her limited access to the house (someone mentioned a light mesh muzzle?), or continue to put her up in that rooom and deal with the damage to the dog and the room. She is good with kids but we are also worried that her routine is going to be turned upside down with a new baby in the house. Just looking for any help that anyone can give. Mowgli is my first pet ever and I cant imagine giving up all of the things I love about her, it would just kill me to have to uproot her life again and put her somewhere that they would not understand her. HELP!! Thanks all

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  • OUCH. Sounds like a really bad case of separation anxiety. And why is the neighbor lighting off fireworks at all hours of the day….I would be seriously pissed. So it could be separation anxiety or how she reacts to the fireworks. Does she get like that when she hears thunder? She sounds really scared. A crate would aleviate the whole door chewing/ripping stuff apart. It will take a while for her to get used to it, but with your wife home she can start for a couple minutes at a time and work your way up. B's love their people and it should do good for her that someone is home. Hope we can answer your questions and you can get some good help from the forum.

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  • M

    I am just scared that she is going to chew through the crate and then I have more problems. She doesnt get scared by thunder. Either way I just need pick something soon, we are litterally not leaving her alone at all right now (with the exception of an hr for church)

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  • Don't get a metal crate. Get one of those mostly plastic ones with just the metal door. That way if she does start to chew on it that it won't hurt her teeth. And then start with a couple minutes here and there. Put her in a place where she can see your wife or you and don't let her out until she calms down. Most dogs love their crates and it will end up being their 'safe' den. Try to find a super quiet spot in the house too when you leave her in her crate. That may help too.

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  • Personally I wouldn't get a plastic crate. Oakley had moderate separation anxiety and did better in a wire crate. I came home once to find blood smeared all over the inside of his plastic crate from scratching, chewing!! He had cuts to his gums and paws- plus wire crates are less te consuming to clean. Also, I sensed he was more anxious everytr I used the plastic crate bc it was closed in. Oakleys separation/ confinement anxiety is better ( not gone) but still has to double masterlocked in his crate. Truthfully, you are going to be overwhelmed with an infant AND trying to deal with these issues with only a week to go before the baby. You will need uber patience bit it can get better, I know bc it has with Oakley who had all of what mowgli has/done ( maybe not to the same degree though) . Oakley will never love his crate but he " tolerates" it will less and less noise and frantic destruction.

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  • RE: getting her to go into the crate voluntarily. Start by placing something she really likes/wants in the crate, but close the door so she can't get it. Make sure she sees it is there. If she tries to get at it, all the better! After a short while, open the door and let her get the item…..do not lock her in! Repeat quite a few times, using high value items in the crate. This should at least get her going into the crate.

    Alternately, you can clicker train the behavior. It took me 15 minutes, start to finish, to train it and put my guy on cue.....I got the behaviour consistently, then used the word "kennel".....and he was solid on going in when asked.....and still is. (and that was my first experiment in clicker training, so I didn't really know what I was doing! I just sat on a chair and clicked successive approximations until he went in) Again, do not close the door at first, until the dog is comfortable, and when you do close the door do it very briefly at first, ideally when he has something in the crate to play with or chew. This is time consuming, but worth it.

    Full disclosure, I do not crate my dog, as he hates being left in his crate and is good in the house loose, but if I had to, this is a good way to proceed.....

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  • Do I understand that Mowgli has her own room and is put in there with the door closed??
    What is the daily routing in the home with her?
    Do you follow a set schedule that is the same day in/day out?

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  • S

    She is chewing up things, when your wife is home and she is shut in the bedroom?

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  • M

    Just to clarify she is only in the room with the door closed when we are out of the house, otherwise she has full roaming capabilities. Can you explain more about the clicker training. When would I actually click? Our routine is no longer set because my wife is leaves and returns at the same time daily. Otherwise she has a morning routine, a eating routine, a walking routine and a bedtime routine.

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  • There is a lot of information about clicker training on line. Most trainers now agree it is unnecessary to "load" the clicker (establish a relationship between clicks and treats), so you can just get right down to it. Some people like to lure, then click. Every trainer will have their own spin.

    What I did with my guy was sit on a chair close to his crate, and just wait. He was walking around the room, and when he got close to the crate, I clicked and treated. Rinse, repeat. :) Continue to reward any approach to the crate. Then wait to click until he gets just a bit closer. Repeat a couple of times, then wait a little for a closer approach. Pretty soon he is right at the entrance, then you want a foot or two inside, finally the whole dog before you click. It takes a bit of experience to get it right, but you really can't screw it up much. If he shuts down on you, say "too bad" and walk away with your treats. Come back and try later. In my case, he kept working and we got the job done in one try. :D

    Lots of good info here:

    http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/index.htm

    I love clicker training for teaching new behaviours. It is the best way I know to teach a dog to pick up an object and retrieve it…...not a natural act for most Basenjis, but easily taught with a clicker. :)

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  • Clicker training is a very valuable tool once you get the hang of it. I housetrained Tucker using a clicker. Basenji's, being very bright, will catch on quickly, especially when you use treats with the clicker. Try something irresistable like hotdogs. Most B's are food driven and eeefarm has some really good ideas how to crate train for it. When I got my B's they were already crate trained so I got to miss that step! Give it a whirl and keep us informed.

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  • I have several questions based on the original post. You said she is on 2 medications, are both for anxiety? Are they being used under the supervision of a veterinary behaviorist and in conjunction with behavior modification? If not, have you looked into consulting a veterinary behaviorist who can help you develop a behavior modification plan?

    Next, though you list physical exercise in Mowgli's routine, what mental exercise are you giving her? Instead of a bare and boring room have you looked into leaving things like a Kong wobbler with her breakfast in it so she has something to do? or is she so anxious even with medication that she will not eat when left alone?

    Also, with a new baby expected very soon, you may want to see if there is a Dogs and Storks presenter in your area, http://dogsandstorks.com/

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  • O

    Can you not babygate her into a room, preferably one that has a window? Basenjis like to see out. My experience has been that they are very curious and do not like to be closed off. Spencer has never liked a crate and was destructive in one. When he was a puppy, I babygated him in the kitchen, then gradually expanded his "domain," giving him free run of the downstairs, then the whole house. If there are rooms I don't want him in, I close the doors. Some dogs respond better to freedom, and Spencer is one. Maybe Mowgli is, too?

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  • J
    Arizona Basenjis

    I had a foster with SEVERE separation anxiety. She would pee and poop at the door if I didn't crate her and also get tangled in the blind at the window. I put her in our plastic crate and she did fine there-at first she wasn't crazy about it but I would coax her in with treats and while she was still anxious, she was safe.

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  • M

    To answer some questions that have been posed…we put her in an empty bedroom and for now close the door. We would like to try the baby gate, but are unsure if she could somehow knock it down or get over it. Although she has never done this in our presence, it appears she is so terribly distraught when left alone, there's no saying what she's capable of. The destruction as of recently has been biting large pieces of wood off the door and window frames, chewing up the blinds and still pooping and peeing on the floor right after being walked (and relieving herself on the walk). Yes, the meds were prescribed as aids to behavior modification. We had worked with a behaviorist to initially get her acclimated to our home and being left alone. Then, this summer her routine was off-set by the fact that my wife is now home more often and we no longer leave/return at the exact same time each day. Mowgli obviously loves our company, so it is likely that the more my wife is home the harder it is for her to cope when left alone. The destruction definitely worsened during the fourth of July when fireworks were being set off all day long in our neighborhood. Until then loud noises didn't seem to bother her.
    In the meantime we take her to doggy daycare just so
    we can get errands done before the baby arrives and only leave her alone when absolutely necessary. It is expensive though and certainly not a longterm solution. Thanks so much for
    all the suggestions. Please keep them coming. This is taking a toll on ALL of us.

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  • M

    Also, we leave her with several toys scattered around the room and bones stuffed with natural balance meat and frozen peanut butter.

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  • What methods have you used to train her to accept a crate?

    Have you tried feeding Mowgli in a crate? Place her food in the crate and initially don't close the door. Then progress to closing the door. If you feed all of her meals in the crate, it will help her see the crate as a more enjoyable place to be.

    We use a metal crate. We started by crating Kipawa with food. Then we progressed to crating him for 2 (yes, 2) minutes while we went out of the house and closed the door. In his crate were some favourite and very safe toys for him to play with. We gradually increased the time, and we are now at a point where he will accept crating for a much lengthier period - the max has been 3 hours. Kipawa still has some anxiety, but it continues to get better.

    Please don't give up on Mowgli. Basenjis do require patience, but the reward is huge. :)

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  • @Mowgli:

    To answer some questions that have been posed…we put her in an empty bedroom and for now close the door. We would like to try the baby gate, but are unsure if she could somehow knock it down or get over it.

    When we first moved to the farm we didn't give the two Basenjis we had at the time the full run of the house, but confined them to the kitchen and adjacent laundry room area. We tried a small gate, but were concerned they might knock it down or get over it, as you are. We ended up building a "gate" with a wood frame and wire that was about five feet tall, put hinges on it, and ended up with a "door" they could see through. Everyone was happy with this arrangement. Once we were sure the dogs had adjusted to the move, we took down the door, but it served its purpose. (and BTW, the first time we left the girls alone in the new place, somebody attacked the outside door and doorframe…..so just because a dog hasn't previously demonstrated separation anxiety, don't assume it won't, in a new location!)

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  • @Mowgli:

    To answer some questions that have been posed…we put her in an empty bedroom and for now close the door. We would like to try the baby gate, but are unsure if she could somehow knock it down or get over it. Although she has never done this in our presence, it appears she is so terribly distraught when left alone, there's no saying what she's capable of. The destruction as of recently has been biting large pieces of wood off the door and window frames, chewing up the blinds and still pooping and peeing on the floor right after being walked (and relieving herself on the walk). Yes, the meds were prescribed as aids to behavior modification. We had worked with a behaviorist to initially get her acclimated to our home and being left alone. Then, this summer her routine was off-set by the fact that my wife is now home more often and we no longer leave/return at the exact same time each day. Mowgli obviously loves our company, so it is likely that the more my wife is home the harder it is for her to cope when left alone. The destruction definitely worsened during the fourth of July when fireworks were being set off all day long in our neighborhood. Until then loud noises didn't seem to bother her.
    In the meantime we take her to doggy daycare just so
    we can get errands done before the baby arrives and only leave her alone when absolutely necessary. It is expensive though and certainly not a longterm solution. Thanks so much for
    all the suggestions. Please keep them coming. This is taking a toll on ALL of us.

    I tell people that Basenjis are claustrophobic and do not like being in a closed room. Add to the fact that someone is home and they are being BANISHED away from them… sorry, but if I were the dog, I would think the people doing that to me were flat out rude.

    I see you are doing other things, but I do not see much training towards acclimation of the dog crate. THAT is what needs to be done.
    She can't be trained to be in it if she isn't given ample opportunity to learn it IS a good place and good things DO happen there... FOOD.

    All of my Basenjis leave my house crate-trained, but when they have any type of issues, it is the owner finds it easier to leave the dog loose... that ends up with major anxiety issues with their Basenji.

    I cannot stress enough how important the crate is to a dog and to the entire family. And your friends and neighbors. What will happen when this dog MUST be left with someone in an emergency and it can't be crated?

    BTW, I had two Basenjis returned in the month of June, both due to severe family situations.
    Dog A. Slept and fed in a crate for it's 18 months and fabulous in the house. Still crate-trained and runs to it when the food bin is rattled. Saving grace for this girl, as I can't have 6 dogs and someone NOT crate-rained.
    Dog B. Left at 3 months of age.. returned at 27 months. Never in a crate and feed loose. Overweight. Sweet and good in the house. Would have to throw him in the crate as he would force his legs apart so I could not get him in the crate. One month later, he runs in the crate and waits for his meals.
    This dog was an obnoxious mess when he was returned... hated hated hated the crate. Now, he rarely makes a peep when crated.

    REASON Dog B adapted to the use of a crate? I was persistent and gave him a reason to WANT to be in there. This dog loved to eat [too much] and while he is not 3# thinner, he IS crate-trained.

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  • I agree with Kathy- I fully admit the issues I have with Oakley and his crate are MY fault and I also admit me breeder educated me thoroughly about the importance of it… 100% my fault and now, at 8 months I'm fixing it and paying the price- it's harder than it would have been. So many things I will do differently with my second pup!! Nothing like experiencing it the tough way to teach a person

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  • M

    Well, we have never left Mowgli in the room while one of us is home. When we are home she has free run of the home. She usually chooses to sleep on the couch, chew bones under the dining room table, go outside in the fenced in backyard (that we constructed basenji-proofed just for her) or follow us around. We rescued her at 15 months. She had been on several meds prior to this and we hoped to ween her completely. Our goal from the start was to crate train her but our highly recommended behaviorist suggested using the room while we attempted training. She suggested that if the room worked out not to worry about the crate, as some dogs simply cannot be crated. Her words, not ours. Since up until recently she had no issues in the room anymore we didn't focus on the crate. Now we realize that the crate is going to have to be the only option and were just looking for advice. We initially worried that she would kill herself in the crate. (She came to us with large gashes in her legs and the tip missing on one of her ears…we can only imagine her past experiences.) When we first
    adopted her she wouldn't go in the same room with the crate in it. Now she eats her meals in there, goes in for "get it" treat games and we chain a meat stuffed bone in there (so she cannot grab it and take it elsewhere). She has come a long way already. We were just worried that the crate would only complicate her anxiety and traumatize Her more. We've done a lot
    of research and truly everyone has a different opinion. We are just looking for any solid advice, knowing full well it will take even more trial and error. She is an amazing little dog
    and we absolutely love her, even with the thousands of dollars worth of destruction and attempted remedies. We genuinely appreciate those of you who know where we are coming
    from and have offered suggestions. Thank you very, very much,

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