Missing the Cleanliness Gene?
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  • I've posted a number of times before regarding my 15 month old trindle Basenji, Griffin. I can't tell you what a great resource this forum is and I hope everyone out there isn't sick of my questions yet. We adopted Griffin from BRAT when he was 9 months old and he's a sweetheart - loves to cuddle and is VERY talkative for a basenji.

    I grew up with basenjis, so I'm very much aware of their personalities and idiosyncrasies. I think Griffin may be missing the "basenji cleanliness gene." Every dog I've ever had has been very clean and lived a very typical "basenji" life. Griffin is like no other basenji I've ever had - he willingly goes out in the rain for walks, when we tried crate training - he pooped and peed in the crate (even with a bone in there with him too) and now he's pooping and/or peeing in his "area" during the day while we are at work. And if you saw my last post - he sometimes eats his poop.

    While I love that he goes out in the rain for walks - the fact that he still goes to the bathroom where he sleeps is getting very tiring. We've tried crate training and we were not successful - he would completely freak out and make a total mess in the crate. He's housebroken in the sense that - he won't go to the bathroom while we are home. And there are even days when he won't have accidents at all - but those days are few and far between now.

    He is walked very regularly - I even come home from work every 3 1/2 to 4 hours to walk him. If we are home, he can go up to 5 or 6 hours without a walk. But, if we leave - we need to come back within 3 hours to take him for a walk - and even then usually there's an accident waiting for us. We've limited his food and water intake (this helped a little). We exercise him regularly. We even bought that pheremone thing (that helped a little too). We've been to the vet and ruled out any more UTIs, diabetes or any other problems. At this point, I am convinced that it's a behavioral issue - maybe separation anxiety. But, what is confusing is that sometimes he's good - and sometimes he's not.

    Is there a general guideline as to when basenjis are totally housebroken? If so, I'm assuming we are WAYYY past that. Other than giving treats when he goes outside, regular walks and praise - what are some other housetraining secrets?

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  • Shadow trained a little slower than normal-he sometimes peed in the house until I got another B. Then a miracle happened-it clued in that outside was the place to pee. He already had another dog, so it wasn't that he needed another dog outside. I think it just sort of dawned on him what I wanted him to do! It does sound more like anxiety. This didn't happen until he was about 2.

    It can happen that he knows you're gone, but suddenly the panic sets in and he pees/poops. Have you tried cages vs crates or fenced off areas in your house?

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  • We have not tried cages yet. We did try keeping him in the kitchen with a gate at the only entrance and, of course, he pooped and peed while we were gone. Right now, we keep him in a roughly 3 x 4 area outside of our bedroom with gates on either end. We have a plastic tarp on the floor which is covered by a sheet. I just got so tired of shampooing the carpet, so we decided to try a tarp to protect the carpet.

    One other thing - we've also successfully switched his food to an organic food thinking that his other food was causing the problems. Not sure if that factors into any other suggestions.

    Everyone keeps telling us that a second dog is the answer, but I'm not sure we're up for that challenge.

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  • I have five,including the new puppy. My husband thought I was nuts-but he's gotten used to them. If you do go for another dog-just remember-they do keep each other entertained. It doesn't seem as bad with two as with one.

    When do you feed him-and when do you leave? Does it happen more at one time of the week or month than another?

    Sugar hates the crate so much she will poop in it and then scream. She eventually settles down though-sometimes it takes hours, sometimes not.

    With the puppy I have she is potty box trained. You may want to try this. A cardboard box with the front cut out, lined with newspapers and then filled with shredded paper. When they go in the box tell him he's a good boy for using the "potty box". I know some people will look at this as a step backward, but I'd rather clean a potty box than have poop stuck to my walls, floor, etc.

    Maybe someone else will have other suggestions as well.

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  • GriffinsMom, I hate to even bring it up because it is somewhat hard to deal with, but it sounds as if Griffin may be experiencing separation anxiety. Your description sounds very familiar to me…my boy had a mild case of separation anxiety that is now a very slight case. Google it...there are lots of resources out there for diagnosing and relieving it.

    I think your boy is, when left alone, feeling anxious. His tummy churns so he messes. He eats it to clean up his area.

    Could you video him when he's alone? Is he pacing, panting, whining, howling, circling endlessly, can't seem to get comfortable?

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  • Dashy was the same way and I have to admit I really think that getting a second dog was the key. I tried leaving the radio on , TV anything that would calm his nerves. He would dig and dig in the crate until his feet bled. When would leave him out of the crate he ate an entire section of carpet in front of our bedroom door. We were at the end of our rope when we were able to get sissy. But it wasn't enough for each to have their own crate they had to be together.

    sissy wasn't housebroke either so we restrict food and water to only 2-3 hours per day after work. After 7:30p everything gets picked up and the only treat they get is when they go in their crate the next morning. Another thing I would reccomend is strick routine. Because we work we didn't have to option to come home like you do. (I commend you for that). We just had to deal with the mess. I never was angry at the dogs. When I did put him out I would watch and as soon as they went to the bathroom outside I would praise the heck out of them and give them a small treat. I use cat treats.

    It did take some time. And it was frustrating but it sounds like you are trying. One more thing is don't make the time you come home really exciting. Keep it low key.

    I hope this helps. I just think Basenji's are sooo attatched to their people it is so stressfull for you to leave them.

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  • yeah, it sounds like separation anxiety to me also. Tayda would leave unbelievable messes when i first got her. she actually once completely chewed up the pan in the bottom of the crate and there was a coat of diarreah covering a 2 foot radius of the crate (which included the WALL)

    after much research on separation anxiety, this is what i did:

    i started feeding her in the crate and putting here in there for some time when i was home also.. whenever she goes in her crate, she would get a treat. i would close the door, even if just for a second, and then let her out. when she got used to being in there when i was in front of her. i'd give her a treat, close the door, and walk away for a minute. come back, open door. i'd repeat this over and over and over and over…. it got better eventually. just have to teach them that the crate is a good place. i used to videotape her while i was gone. it really did get better and better. i used to leave a camera on the whole living room area (where the crate is) just to see what she did while i was away. it got to the point where she was totally trustworthy out of the crate when i wasn't home. and actually, even when i'd just leave her loose in the house, i'd come home and check the video... and she would spend most of her time - in the crate! she'd walk around, pick up toys, take them to the crate, sit down, play, chew, walk back to her toy box, pick up another toy, go back to the crate... etc etc.

    just be patient and keep at it! it WILL get better!

    But Poor Tayda... ever since I got Lenny, they're both crated together. He is totally untrustworthy in the house!!

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