Looking for some input

Hello all,

We've had Hooligan for almost 2 months now and we really love him. We're starting to bond and it has so far been a rewarding experience. There are just a few things we're working out and I wanted to get some advice on how best to proceed.

Issue 1: Hooli doesn't like to be left alone at all. Luckily my husband works from home, so he's rarely left alone, but sometimes we do have to both go out and he gets upset when we do. I know this is pretty common. He whines, then howls/screams and destroys anything he has access to.

Issue 2: Hooli doesn't just destroy things, he eats them. He can't have any plush/fabric toys because he will immediately tear them up and start to consume them. He can't have a bed in his kennel or crate because he'll tear it and eat it. We've already been to the emergency vet for surgery to remove stuff he's eaten, and it was a terrifying experience that I hope never happens again.

I am wondering if there's any way to get him to play with toys, but not EAT them? I don't really mind too much if he tears things up. It seems like fun and I could give him toys to destroy if I didn't have to worry about his safety and getting blocked or punctured insides.

I would also love to let him have the run of the house because he's really a very good boy - very friendly and polite and gentle. I am just concerned about him eating things. He even eats the corners of our blankets at night if we're not careful. We enjoy having him sleep on the bed, and I'd hate to have to confine him at night, but I worry about him eating blankets. So far he's either passed or barfed what he's eaten blanket-wise, but I really don't want to put him through surgery again! Plus it was expensive! Over 3k! I'd do it again in a heartbeat but it can only happen so many times, lol.

We've tried several ways to confine him when we're away. Before we got him, we converted a room in the basement (where Josh's studio is) into a kennel. It is roomy, with 2 walls being the basement itself and the other two chain link with wooden structure and wood to cover the terminal ends of the chain link (so he didn't cut himself). We nicknamed Hooli "The Beaver" after he tore the wood off the chain link, broke it in half and ate a good bit of it. He also chewed partway through the stairs, as the room is right where the stairs come down into the basement. He did this within 3 hours while we were out seeing a movie. We give him things like nylabones and a kong, which he does chew on, but I'm not sure what else to use to possibly keep him better occupied. We tried a bully stick once, but he had it down to a short, potentially dangerous nub within a few minutes and it's not something we can leave him with.

After the kennel debacle, we tried just crating him. He can't really get to anything in the crate, but he sure tries. It's a hard plastic one and he's chewed on it a bit, but doesn't seem to be able to escape or destroy it. I'd prefer of course that he be relaxed and comfy while we're gone. I'd LOVE to give him his bed that he sleeps on, or more toys, but he'd just eat them.

I know some people have suggested getting another dog for separation anxiety, but he doesn't like other dogs at all, so that's not an option for us.

Does anyone have an opinion on kennel vs. crate? I want either one to be positive - his home & refuge, not punishment. I don't want him to dislike going in the basement because of the kennel, because we want to encourage him to go hang out with Josh in the studio. I worry it's colder in the basement, but he'd have more room. I don't know if we should try covering all the wood somehow so he has only chain link, or if we need to buy a separate, fully-enclosed chain link & metal kennel? Or stick with the crate? I feel bad about putting him in the crate. He can stand and turn but it's not that big. It's kind of nice that we can have the crate upstairs anywhere and we have been playing games of find-the-treat with him so he gets to associate the crate with good things and it's not as easy to do that with the kennel. What do you all think?

So, sorry this was such a long post! I just want to see if anyone has any insight on things we can do to make life more pleasant for us and our little Hooli!

Thanks guys!
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How old is your dog? My dogs cannot have regular toys or bedding because they are big chewers and they are older-6, 10 and 12. I buy the heavy duty nylabones and bones similar to those. My boy Arnie when he was an older puppy took off the outer layer of a tennis ball and could chew up a heavy duty rope toy in minutes. Perhaps someone has some suggestions. This is the major thing that I do not like about Basenjis and I hope that Arnie the 12 year old will eventually grow out of it! I have had older dogs than him and they never chewed on anything so perhaps he will stop.

Jennifer

First Basenji's

when you say he doesn't like other dogs, what is it exactly that happens for you to think this? It is soooooooo important for him to be canine and human socilized by this age, and to have good experiences with other stuff before his 16week second fear imprint time table. Please don't lock him in the basement-alone….are there any doggy day care centers near you? Please try to keep him mentally stimulated and fulfilled at this important time in his life. In reference to his kennel, is there a way for you to actually sit in the chain link area with him at intervals for a good experience in it? have a tv or radio going for him to listen to if alone? I'm going on a limb here, have him 'pick out' a friend at a foster shelter. Canines are social animals, and the Basenji does not like to be alone. It will take time to 'bond' to the other gal you may get for him, but it will help. My tri-boy does have separation anxiety, but if both my husband and I have to leave, Candi gets babysitting instructions for Uzie. I know I cannot leave him by himself. Don't know if it would have been different if I had him as a pup, but the previous owner left him crated all day, and he hates it. There's more to the story, but I deal with what I rescued. Try a friend idea…..

I have had a couple of Basenjis that won't tolerate crating. Fortunately being loose in the house worked for me, with little destruction. My current boy does well home alone as long as he is distracted when we are leaving. I give him a roller ball with treats, and prepare it a few minutes before we go out. I lock it in his crate where he can see it but can't get at it, and by the time we are ready to leave he just wants that ball so bad! Depending on your dog, this could work. You need to know if he is destructive all the time you are gone or just when you first go out. A web cam or similar could potentially tell you this. Some dogs are fine after the initial few minutes of wrecking everything they can get hold of, others not so much…..

Have you spoken with the breeder?.. that would be your first choice of defense for his temperament… Is he getting enough excerise?... both Mental and Physical?.. a tired Basenji is a good Basenji. Shreading toys is a favorite for many Basenjis... but IMO for many, shreading bedding is a sign of them not getting enough excerise. Yes, there are some that will never be crate training... but start with the obvious first.. make sure he has been tired out first before crated or kenneled...

I would second the advice on exercise, but in regard to the "eating everything" problem, the only solution I can see is vigilance, and removing everything from his reach when you can't supervise. You can certainly train him not to do this, likely with good success when you are around to correct behaviour, but getting him to be reliable when you are absent will be a challenge. The only thing I can add is the more he gets in the habit, the harder it will be to break, so perhaps avoid letting him chew on anything other than edibles that you want him to consume.

My current boy is the least destructive Basenji I have owned, and I credit his breeder. She teaches all her pups what things are "legal" to chew and what are off limits, and it sticks! Her dogs do not chew up plush toys, bedding, etc. (exception with my guy is if you lock him in a crate. Since he has anxiety about this, he will trash anything in there, and also defecate and urinate and work himself into a frenzy. Yes, he was crate trained before I got him, but being crated alongside several other dogs is apparently a different thing from being crated alone!)

Well, I'll try to answer all the questions and I do apologize if this answer is delayed. It sometimes takes almost 2 weeks for my posts to show up here.
Hooligan just turned 2 years old and we've had him for about 2 months.
I have been in contact with his breeder, and she was the one who initially told me that he doesn't get along well with other dogs (which is why he needed to go to a home with no other dogs) and she also told us he had some separation anxiety. So we didn't go into this blind, but I do want to work to make him as happy as possible in his new home.
I did try for myself his reaction to other dogs, just out walking with neighbors, stopping into Petco, visiting the dog park and meeting my parent's dog. If any other dog approaches him, he grows and his hackles go up, and if they get within range, he snaps. So far (and I haven't checked everything yet) the places I've looked at for obedience training and daycare require that the dogs not be aggressive towards other dogs. So, I am also looking for dog-sitting/daycare options for when we go away for more than a few hours and can't take him along.
It's been so ridiculously cold around here that even with a coat and boots, he doesn't want to be outside for too long, and there are only so many games that can be played in the house. It's likely he's a little squirrely from being inside. We try to take advantage of the better days and go for long excursions on those days. He's had a lot of fun ice fishing with my husband, especially when he has a cozy, specially-made shanty cubby he can curl up in when he gets chilled! I'm looking forward to warmer days for sure!
He's really not destructive at all unless he's left alone, or he's not sure what's going on. I think we had still been getting into a schedule and with the chaos of holidays, plus surgery I think some of the blanket-eating was because he just wasn't sure what was going on and what he was expected to do. Possibly…. that's just a guess. But now that we have a more reliable schedule, he seems perfectly happy as long as he's part of whatever we're doing - either if we're playing or practicing commands or even if he's "supervising" what we're up to.
He seems to like his crate, too! This is a new update! He now knows the command "crate" and he will go in and sit down when we ask him. Sometimes he just hangs out in there or naps during the day. So i'm glad it's not crate anxiety and it's just that he doesn't want to be left by himself. I do tend to agree with you, Buddys Pal about the basement. Yes, it's roomier, and really it's not much different than is kennel at the breeders, but it's still a basement. And he seems to at least like his crate, so right now, we are taking him along whenever possible, leaving him in his crate if we're gone for just a few hours, and we're having Josh's parents dogsit him if we're going to be gone longer than that. We visit them often, so he knows and likes them and I feel good about leaving him with people he knows.
Also, bully stick update: I discovered a different store that sold the giant ones and those last much longer. Still not something I'd leave him alone with, but something fun for him to have anyway.
Does anyone have any other suggestions for toys/treats he can tear apart, but that are safe to eat? Or toys that wouldn't be tempting to eat but are still fun to play with? We're still trying to get him some fun, yet safe or edible toys. I think scoring in the toy department would help, too.

Thanks for all the input!! 😃

First Basenji's

There is a toy dispenser that Uzie gets for his breakfast every morning. He gets to bash it around, I close the door to one room for him, and make sure he can't get it stuck somewhere like when he knocked over the dresser to get to it: I got it at PetSupermarket and it is called the iq treat ball. or www.ourpets.com/smarttoys It can hold up to 3/4C of his kibble. At least in the basement he can have a big area to bash it. It is hilarious to watch them use paws and nose to dispense the kibble!

Elk antlers, moose antlers, deer antlers! Long lasting, safe to eat and provide minerals and nutrients not found in their diet…love them!!!

I use this type of kennel for my dogs in the basement. I like them because they are modular. So if you want something bigger than a 4' x 4' kennel you can just buy extra panels to make it larger if you want. Very easy to put together and to take apart. It's bigger than a crate but still something you can use to confine him and keep him safe.

http://www.menards.com/main/building-materials/fencing/powder-coated-kennels/kennels/c-12459.htm

You can build a positive association with a crate or kennel but it may take a while if he already has a bad association with it. Changing what you are doing now and transitioning him slowly to something else could make it easier.

Aren't Thunder Shirts used for separation anxiety? You could look into one of those?

First Basenji's

@Hooligan:

Hello all,

Plus it was expensive! Over 3k! I'd do it again in a heartbeat but it can only happen so many times, lol. yikes!

I know some people have suggested getting another dog for separation anxiety, but he doesn't like other dogs at all, so that's not an option for us.

Does anyone have an opinion on kennel vs. crate? I want either one to be positive - his home & refuge, not punishment. I don't want him to dislike going in the basement because of the kennel, because we want to encourage him to go hang out with Josh in the studio. I worry it's colder in the basement, but he'd have more room. I don't know if we should try covering all the wood somehow so he has only chain link, or if we need to buy a separate, fully-enclosed chain link & metal kennel? Or stick with the crate? I feel bad about putting him in the crate. He can stand and turn but it's not that big. It's kind of nice that we can have the crate upstairs anywhere and we have been playing games of find-the-treat with him so he gets to associate the crate with good things and it's not as easy to do that with the kennel. What do you all think?

Thanks guys!

I am sorry that I suggested the other dog, didn't know he 'came' that way to you.
I have provided a referral list from the website of certified trainers and behaviorist in your state. http://www.ccpdt.org/index.php?option=com_certificants&task=directory&state=WI I personally know Sarah Kalanjas by way of attending her seminars. http://www.bluedogtraining.com/problem-behavior.html If you do hire someone, make sure that they understand the CAT/BAT or counter conditioning process for your boy and his (possibly) fear aggression with other dogs.

Maybe in stead of having any wood in the chain link kennel, just have one or two kongs and such in a plain ol chain link with a chain link topper on it. Construct it so it is large enough for him to use a corner to potty (grass mat?) if he so needs (don't know how long you both are gone….) a medium large one or so for long periods. http://www.doghouses.com/dog-kennels/dog-kennels-and-runs/cottageviewdogkennel1.cfm

hoping for the best for you!

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