OMG!!!! Is our dog insane?????

So…. I don't know if I am typing this to vent, or to ask for even more advice.... But I am beyond the point of frustration. Just a little history if you were not able to read my last post "Crate training... and a thunder shirt" but the issues have only escalated. Today I honestly thought my husband was going to cry... and he NEVER cries... not even on our wedding day. Our queen B, Zola has severe separation anxiety. We have had her now for a month, and it appears to be getting worse. We have taken y'all previous advice about starting from square one with the "basic" crate training.... with no change. It's not the crate that is her issue... it's when we have to leave, for any amount of time, that she totally looses it. First, she shredded EVERYTHING we placed in her crate to keep her company. Second, we left her in the crate with only her Kong and herself, and she resorted to eating the tray of her crate, chipping 3 teeth. Now she has no tray... it's on order. Third, today... we come home to find that she has found a way to walk her crate across the living room (there were 50 lb weights on top of the crate to weigh it down... she weighs 20 lbs) and she proceeded to eat through the power adapter to my computer (that was on playing music for her as suggested), she ate the plastic rim of her dinner bowl, she ate the inside door mat, in fact, she ate everything in her path EXCEPT the bone that was left for her in her crate.

Mind you, we were out getting her a calming collar (as suggested) and her Thunder Shirt and DAP are on their way here. My husband and I are at our wits end. She is so destructive when we leave that she even sacrifices herself, causing herself pain, to attempt to escape her crate. Our neighbors probably think we are hanging her by the ears because she cries SO loud.... the whole time we are gone.

And then.... one of us comes home, and she is back to being a total angel.

My husband and I first said we were going to try everything BUT meds. Now we are seriously considering medication for Zola. This process has been heartbreaking, and I have never seen my hubby so hurt. This dog is NOT the dog that was described to us... at least not when we leave.

OK.... so we can not afford a second dog right now (as was suggested), and we don't want to give her back to BRAT.... that would be the final final final straw. We are not ready to give up. So.... are there any medications for severe separation anxiety that any of you have had success with? Or any other suggestions? Please.


I imagine you will have to take her to the vet to get a prescription. What about a doggy daycare or something? I hope this resolves for you quickly.

If you can work with a veterinary behaviorist that can help you develop a plan to use medication to make the other steps you are taking effective, she may not need life long medication.

I am so sorry. Hopefully the meds will help and she can be weaned off of them later. I wish I had something helpful to say.

It sounds like placing her on a prescription may be warranted. A vet will know what drugs are available to treat SA in dogs. I strongly suggest consulting a canine behaviorist to help you and Zola work through this as medication is not the solution but merely a tool to help in retraining and refocusing the dog. Good luck to you and Zola…

Is there some reason Zola cannot be left out of the crate? Is she destructive then? I have one that I will never leave in the crate when at home, she will and has hurt herself in the crate-at home. If she is crated in the car or in a hotel room, she is fine, just not at home. Actually, all my B's are left out at home but travel well in crates. Just a question.

What was her foster situation when you obtained her from BRAT? If she has always had other dogs around, this may be the root of the problem. My Perry came from a breeder where when he was crated there were always other dogs crated next to him. He would not tolerate being left in a crate here alone. We were fortunate in that he is not (usually) house destructive, so it was relatively easy to transition him to being loose in the house. I agree with trying medication to help you over a rough spot. Hopefully it works and you can establish a pattern with her so that she is not so anxious. A doggy daycare might be a great solution if there is one that would work for you. Time does usually improve this situation. It was months before Perry really felt "at home" with us, perhaps because he had spent the first three years of his life elsewhere. Good luck! I empathize because I have been down this road twice, and it isn't fun.

Contact your coordinator with BRAT for help. Getting full info on previous conditions might help.

Medication often helps while the dog learns new behaviors.

And while I am not recommending it, please understand that some placements are simply bad for the dog and home. It is possible a home with other dogs might be better at least in the short run. I do think though, with a more secure crate the dog cannot move or bite into, medications and retraining, you can bring this dog around. It requires slowing increasing the time alone until the dog is more secure.


Is there some reason Zola cannot be left out of the crate? Is she destructive then? I have one that I will never leave in the crate when at home, she will and has hurt herself in the crate-at home. If she is crated in the car or in a hotel room, she is fine, just not at home. Actually, all my B's are left out at home but travel well in crates. Just a question.

This would be my question as well. My last 2 Basenjis before Buddy could not be crated at home. Left in the house alone there was no problem all their life. They didn't have separation anxiety they just hated the crate. Buddy does wonderful crated and has no separation anxiety but I leave him loose in the house all day anyway while I'm at work. I just walk him for about 25 minutes in the am and he curls up in the chair and sleeps, could care less that I'm leaving. He has a dog door to the back if he needs to go out.

One of the interesting things about (most) dogs with separation anxiety is that they seem to do their destruction in the first few minutes after you leave (studies have been done with cameras that reveal this). I find if you can keep the dog occupied as you depart, so he doesn't look out and watch you, problems are less likely (I use a treat dispensing ball for this). Crate anxiety, however, may go on for a long time with the dog working himself into a frenzy and actually doing physical damage to himself. In my case I could confirm this by sneaking back and noting the behaviour of the dog. My separation anxiety dogs loose in the house were always relaxing on the couch, usually sleeping. In the crate, another story!

Can you not afford to purchase another dog, or to care for another dog? If it's the initial purchase price, I will keep a look out for a second basenji on CL or petfinder.

Some dogs simply need a brother/sister. When Lola was an only dog (you can search on here for "Halo" posts from 2010), her family was at wit's end with her. There was even an incident when their neighbors called 911, and when the family got home, they were greeted by the police, who insisted on entering the house and seeing the creature that was making all of these horrible high pitched squeals!

Fast forward to Lola's life with us, and I had to move into an extended stay hotel for 3 months, I figured I could take Lola with me and she would be just fine, as we had never heard Lola make one peep! WRONG. For a dog that doesn't bark, yodel, or roo, Lola can cry to a noise beyond belief! Since I couldn't leave her at the hotel, I brought her to PetSmart doggy daycare, thinking that would cure her anxiety. After all, she would be surrounded by dogs, right? WRONG. Lola would cry so loudly that they "upgraded" her to a soundproof suite…. I thought it was because they were pampering her, but later realized it was because you could hear her cries within the store itself.

Over the weekends, Lola and I would go to the dog park and outings, and she was just fine, as she was always with me. However, one time when I stopped to get gas, I had to go inside to pay. When I came back outside, there was a gathering around my car by concerned citizens~ what was wrong with the puppy? Was she hurt? (This was when i realized how LOUD she can be!)

The way this was "solved"- in an instant- was to give her a sister. Once we adopted Zeba, Lola's anxiety was gone. While the two of them still went to doggy daycare together, Lola would happily and quietly share the kennel with her sister. She was truly a different girl.

Becca had separation anxiety too. These guys like to be with their people so much and they get so attatched I think this is why they have the separation anxiety. As soon as we got Tucker and placed him in a crate right next to hers she was much better. I know that not everyone can have two dogs and you may need to resort to other methods. But now we can leave her and Tucker in the porch with the baby gate and the doggy door and she is so happy, no more howling or screaming. The neighbors in town thought we had a wolf in our house during the day, even when all the windows were closed.

Of course the problem with getting another dog is that it doesn't always resolve your difficulties and potentially you are left with "double trouble". My first boy, Sunny, was not appeased by having our girl as company. The fact that she didn't like him at all might have contributed to his attitude, however. 🙂 He was horrible in his crate, and little by little we were able to make the transition to leaving him loose.

One more thought: no Basenji I know is happy if they aren't warm. Sometimes a big part of the problem is that they are not comfortable. Sunny used to lobby to have the gas fireplace turned on. If we didn't comply, good chance we would come home to an expression of his dissatisfaction. If it was on (or if it was nice and sunny in the porch), he was content. After a time, he trained us adequately and we had few problems after that. 😉

Well…. Her foster situation with BRAT was this: she was with a family in New Orleans that had 4 of their own B's, and she was there for 3 weeks. They said that they were able to leave their home to go to work for up to 11 hours, and she was fine in her crate. Mind you, she had to be separated from the 4 other dogs, and BRAT described her as a dog that needed to be in a "one dog household". So we never thought that needing another dog would be an issue. As far as letting her be outside the crate when we are not home... we attempted to keep her in a "safe room" aka our bathroom for about 20 minutes. We were met with MASS destruction. That was a bad and expensive experience so we have not tried it again. But maybe we need to....

Do you by any chance have access to a web cam that you could use to observe what she is doing? Might give you some options so you don't come home to a mess. Also, before you try going the vet prescribed medication route, you might just experiment with something OTC like Benedryl. It works for some. Make sure to give it well before she has any inkling you are leaving. Once she is already worked up, it won't likely be effective.

Okay if this dog did fine for up to 11 hrs, something else is going on. Is it possible for you to BORROW the dog of a well trained dog who can be put in a crate in the same room to see if that does it? Or really, get some meds while the dog settles and resumes okay life in a crate.

Don't get another dog unless YOU really want another dog. Chances are as big to end up with double-trouble as they are to fix the problem.

I have given a dog meds before to work on getting her comfortable to see me leave. That was a 4 year old Thai Ridgeback Dog that was taken from illegal dogfights. She could escape any bench, room and would hurt herself seriously when working her way to freedom. So we chose to use some medicines to fix it as quickly as possible.
So I gave her something that would really calm her down. Can't remember the name of it, but it's pretty much the same as valium. The first days sche could hardly move when she had the med, and we just gave her a little less of it every day when we could see she was relaxt when I left the room/house. It's pretty easy to see when they start fighting the medicine.
Took us about 3 weeks to learn her to be alone for a couple of hours.

I feel so much for you and your husband.

I agree that it nis well worth getting some medication from your vet to keep her calm and then continue to try and train her.

Being locked in the bathroom is probably no nbetter than shutting her in a crate. Leaving her loose where she can possibly look out the window to see things going on outside might make a difference together with using medication.

Also I agree with eeeefarm about warmth. I would only ever consider leaving a Basenji alone without heat if there was sunshine pouring through the windows!!

I can't remember if you've tried bringing in a behaviorist? Ideally as Ivoss says a veterinary behaviorist who could help you with the medication as well.

OK…. so I have a happy follow up to this post. My husband and I called our vet, who recommended that we speak to a behavior specialist, AFTER trying something different first. As many of you suggested, we decided to try again to allow her to have the "run of the house" and NOT crate her when we left. We tried it with 15 minute intervals, then worked up to 30 minutes of us leaving her. We both have iPhones, so we were able to use the Facetime app to watch her live. After whimpering for about 5 minutes, and running from the front door to the back door to check for us, she eventually just curled up on her "spot" on the couch... and stayed there!!!! WOW!!!! It was like hearing our child say their first word... we were so excited that she was so calm out of the crate, and not destructive at all.

So now we are going to continue to increases the amount of time that we leave her alone, and continue to train her. We are SO happy to see that maybe this is a solution that can work for us all, and Zola can be OK and not harm herself.

The only unfortunate thing is: Zola was so destructive in the crate, now she is sick. Like two-year-old-child, coming out of both ends, sick. She ate up the plastic tray of her crate, and also ate carpet fibers from a floor mat she got a hold to. After a lot of cleaning up, taking her out every two hours all through the night, a vet visit, and $300 later.... we still have to wait until the morning to be sure all the fragments pass through her system safely. Poor girl.....

Queen Zola made it absolutely clear.... NO CRATE for this girl.

Zola's mom-

You're a gooood dogmom. Never doubt that.
it seems this has been a trial by fire of sorts. i've got to admit, i'm very impressed with all you've done.

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