Crazy puppy (1yr) not calming down at all

  • Hi we are in need of some basenji support and advise…our 1 yr old female is seemingly getting more and more crazy and even a bit aggressive with us. A bit about her situation.... She is crate trained while we are at work and we understand that this will cause her to be a bit hyper when we get home. We also live in mass and she is resisting walking in the cold so she is not getting a ton of excecise. We put her in daycare twice a week to get her out of the crate, but she does not get playtime with other dogs there. She is non stop ...she has chewed our dining room chairs, dug couch cushions, torn thru 3dog beds, and will not stop biting the cat. The cat does not seem afraid of her and even tries to sleep in her bed, but since she is getting aggressive we are nervous. She will bite us also when she wants to play, and we know she is not trying to be mean, but she is very very strong. She had 4 rounds of training as a puppy up until this past November, each one was 7 weeks. She still will not come when we call her, and does not listen when we say no. We have no contact with her breeder as when we got her she was very very sick and we were very upset with them. We told this breeder everything about our home situation, and our plans for the dog. He said she would be fine in a crate, with a cat, and that she is very trainable. We lovelovelovelove our baby, but can not leave her in a room for 1 minute alone. She does not have run of the house, just living room and kitchen..very open space. Is this still puppy behavior? Will a basenji become calmer as they get older? She also seems to have separation anxiety and we give her rescue remedy, but our vet says she may need something stronger. The last thing in the world we want is to have to find another home for her, but it is getting really really hard ...please, any thoughts, advice, ...and prayers...are welcome.... So sad right now....

  • Exercise both physical and mental is the keep… A tired Basenji is a good Basenji.... And why are day care doesn't she get to play with the other dogs?

    Unless you get her under control now, she will keep doing the same things as she ages... I would guess more than separation anxiety it is the lack of motivation/exercise both physical and mental

  • @newbsnjbby:

    We also live in mass and she is resisting walking in the cold so she is not getting a ton of excecise. We put her in daycare twice a week to get her out of the crate, but she does not get playtime with other dogs there.

    For sure part of your problem is that she doesn't get enough exercise. Does she have a coat and boots to go walking? My guy certainly needs those when the temperature is low. As Tanza asked, why isn't she getting some playtime with the other dogs? Surely they must have one or two that would work with her? (if not, maybe find another daycare that does)

    She is disobedient. So what are you doing about that? Coming when called is not optional. What training methods are you using? How much supervision does she get when out of the crate? I am guessing not much, based on your description of her destructiveness. She needs mental exercise as well as physical. Clicker training can be helpful for this. Once she understands the principle, it will keep her busy trying to find out what will result in a reward.

    When you are home she should not be crated IMO. If you can't watch her, "wear" her, i.e. tether her to your waist so you know where she is and what she is doing, but keep her with you, not confined. Gently enforce your commands if she won't comply with them, i.e. if she is doing something and you say "no", prevent her (gently) from continuing to do it. You need to establish that you are indeed "the boss of her". You don't need to punish, but you do need to compel obedience if you can't get it voluntarily. Biting should never get her what she wants!!!

  • All of the above. AND, if you're feeding her kibble, I'd suggest using a food dispensing toy. This will engage her mind and she will have to work to get the food out. I have several for my 3 dogs and rotate them. You can also make her work for her food by using it as a training session if she finds it motivating enough. (my basenji does, the malinois does, the silken, not so much and neither did my brindle basenji).

    Recalls take time and she will probably never be fully reliable off leash in an unfenced area. Get Leslie Nelson's Really Reliable Recall. (book or dvd format)

    What sort of classes did she go to? Where were they? What was she supposed to learn?

    All of my hounds have LOVED clicker training. To start with, google 101 things to do with a box. This will help you both learn about clicker training and help you improve your timing and training skills. Have fun with it.

    I'd also start this pup on this program:
    Do what you can with the dog and space you have. if you have to, break Day 1 into several days. It's not a race. I've always used a down instead of a sit, but I think this will help your puppy a lot.

    Also, I recommend the books Control Unleashed and Dr Yin's How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves. If you're on a tight budget, these books may be at your local library. (mine had Yin's book)

    good luck and please keep us informed

  • All good comments… especially food dispensing toy... forgot all about that... again, something to work her mind. I am always reminded when I go to a dog show... while the show ring time is not usually more than 10/15 minutes, it works their minds to be a show dog... they come home and sleep like they have run the fields for hours... it makes a big difference to work their minds and their body

  • Good advice already here.
    One point I would like to add is: when you walk her and you can't let her off leash because of safety or time, let her sniff and explore all she wants, even if it means you stand for 10 minutes in the same place. Basenji's love (and need!) to check everything out and it really engages their senses and brain in a good way. It will help her to be calmer at home.

  • I'm no expert but all this sounds like normal Basenji behavior especially for an under-exercised, under-stimulated and YOUNG dog as already noted here. This is not to say your dog isn't getting enough exercise to stay physically healthy, but pretty much every dog will be better behaved the more it is getting tuckered out.

    I have raised two Basenji puppies recently, now 1 and 2 y/o, and both are still pretty rambunctious (typical young Basenjis) especially in the winter when it is no doubt tough on them and my girlfriend and I to want to get outside. We live in an apartment but the building was once a hotel so we have interior hallways that take us about 10 minutes to walk all three floors. I know we have a peculiar living situation but you might be able to find something similar (just indoor hallways or maybe outdoors under the cover of some structure) Also, just because your dog doesn't want to go outside because of cold or rain or snow doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't. Your judgment of what they can take is more realistic and optimistic than their own. Boots and jackets can do wonders if the temperatures necessitate it but either way, if it's not uncomfortably cold out just get out there! If I only walked when my Basenjis wanted to in the winter, we'd walk once a day and I'd be cleaning up my floors twice a day!! They are definitely not cold weather dogs but they can hesitate unnecessarily even when it's not cold enough to need boots and sweaters. Just exercise sound judgment: keep an eye on the temperature outside, feel her paws and body on walks, notice if she's shivering or lifting her paws.

    Even with more outdoor exercise, more positive and engaging stimulation at home is definitely called for. Everything she's doing now that you don't like is her making up her own fun. As already mentioned, a fun and yummy training session can not only be used to teach desired behaviors but will also tire a dog out. Why doesn't your get social time with other dogs at day care? If it's because of aggression, definitely read up and/or get training to mitigate that. If your dog could socialize with other dogs at day care, she would get tired from running around AND using her brain to socialize (the latter of which is not readily obtained from regular walks). Then you'd be getting your money's worth for the day care and for a happy (tired) dog. If no socialization is just an attribute of the day care itself, consider finding a day care that does include that.

    Speaking of socialization, you should try to find a fully-fenced dog park to visit (assuming she doesn't have major aggression issues) to get the same exercise and socialization benefits of day care in a likely larger, more natural space full of sights and smells. As already noted here, any time a dog has to use their brains for more than just walking around, they get tired at least twice as fast. When I take my dogs to the dog park and there's lots of dogs there, of course they run like crazy but they do so much more than that with the other dogs, trying to figure them out, how to get them to chase or get them to run so they can give chase, how to sniff the butt of a Great Dane, what all that hair is for on an English Sheepdog. A properly socialized dog that "explores" and plays with other dogs for an hour will pass out on the couch like you just walked them for 3 hours. If my dogs weren't well socialized and we couldn't go to dog parks at all, we would all be going insane!! And when we go to the dog park and there's not a lot of other dogs there my dogs and I get bummed. Being off-leash is great, but it's the other dogs that make the experience so engaging and thus tiring! I think the only thing that would be more engaging would be hunting with other dogs. Note that part of my dogs socialization was going to dog park from 6 months of age and being very attentive to what they were experiencing…not letting them get run over by bigger dogs, avoiding aggressive dogs, etc., we didn't want to get off on the wrong foot with such a valuable socialization and exercise resource. With that cautious start, now they're some of the most rough and tumble dogs there (in a good way) even though they are usually the smallest playful dogs present and they LOVE strangers...they are overflowing with healthy confidence. [Funny story: I had a guy ask me "those aren't Basenjis are they!?" I said yes. Then he said "that's odd, I thought Basenjis were very aloof, unfriendly, and aggressive with strangers and other dogs". Needless to say my dogs practically licking his face corrected his Basenji misconceptions which probably originated from under/unsocialized Basenjis which unfortunately are fairly common.]

    Once your dog is getting worn out every so often, her destructive and aggressive behaviors will likely improve. Revisit all of the training you two have already been through (don't use it, you and her will lose it). Get your family involved. Include training to specifically address the behaviors you don't like and to get her to do things you do like instead. EX: give her substitutes to bad behaviors; try not to put her situations where you know she's likely to do what you don't like. I have yet to meet a dog that preferred biting people for fun over chewing on a fresh bone (which is great mental stimulation, too, like a Rubix cube for dogs). If she likes to bite you in specific situations, try to avoid them or at least don't allow her to get latched on (saying "no" when she's already pulling on your skin is a little late, she's already got what she wants). If "come"/recall isn't working, work on other commands for some time then come back to recall. Definitely get all the books agilebasenji mentioned…anyone who can get a Basenji to do more than 3-4 commands knows what they're talking about and that's no joke!!! It's pretty well known about the breed that when they're young, if they're out of their crate you either have to "puppy-proof" their entire run-free area OR constantly watch them. They are a mischievous, often destructive breed especially as puppies. Practically every one that has raised a Basenji puppy has ended up having to do things that would make other dogs owners cringe thinking about the effort required. I often describe Basenjis as the "anti-Lab". Plan accordingly.

  • All good suggestions here. Treat-dispensing toys, asking her to work/obey commands for food and providing lots and lots of exercise and mental stimulation should help. Daycare is an invaluable resource. Make it a priority to find a daycare that has lots of other high-energy dogs to tire her out; if she tires the other dogs out and is still going strong, ask them to rotate her through playgroups. A hyper adolescent basenji has more energy than other breeds, and daycare isn't doing you much good if your girl is crated or not racing around with other dogs. Bring her home and walk her at a brisk pace, if she's still bouncing off the walls. Try play groups or beginning agility classes at night or on weekends.

    Clicker training is usually fun for a high-energy dog. If she's food motivated, it will be easier since she'll be eager to do what you ask for food. If she isn't particularly food motivated, try high-value treats (bits of chicken, turkey, hot dog, cheese, etc.). Hiding small bits of food/treats around a room and having her find them is something else you can try. My girl loves this.

    But, in my experience, what will help the most is another year. The time between 1 and 2 years can be very challenging, as your active girl works through adolescence, testing every boundary and finding new ways to spend that endless energy. Hang in there. This phase will pass quicker than you think, and when your girl turns 2 or so, she'll grow up, calm down and become a different dog. It seems to happen almost overnight!

  • @Coloradical:

    Definitely get all the books agilebasenji mentioned…anyone who can get a Basenji to do more than 3-4 commands knows what they're talking about and that's no joke!!!

    Awww thanks.

  • We've had several Basenji puppies over the years and I will say that having a two at a time has made all the difference. Dogs are pack animals and get mental stimulation, exercise, and companionship from a second dog. Even if the dog isn't a Basenji, your present dog will get much enjoyment from a companion and take less of its boredom and anxiety out on your belongings.

    (We have 3 Bs at the moment: one 14 year old female and two 1 year old brothers.)

  • @scoobybri:

    We've had several Basenji puppies over the years and I will say that having a two at a time has made all the difference. Dogs are pack animals and get mental stimulation, exercise, and companionship from a second dog. Even if the dog isn't a Basenji, your present dog will get much enjoyment from a companion and take less of its boredom and anxiety out on your belongings.

    (We have 3 Bs at the moment: one 14 year old female and two 1 year old brothers.)

    While I totally agree that the basenji might enjoy another dog, I am worried they are already at breaking point dealing with ONE dog and bringing in another could be a problem. Getting boots and a coat and getting her out and exercising every morning and evening, short training sessions, food puzzle toys, and even things like teaching tracking..yes indoors til the weather is nicer 🙂 can help keep her mind busy and energy burned off some. And if the daycare doesn't let her play with other dogs, what are you paying for? Do they walk her a LOT, play with her one-on-one? If not, might be no more expensive and more beneficial to have someone come over once a day mid day for an hour walk.

  • I specifically logged onto the forum tonight to share my recent wonderful experience that has saved many body parts of my girlfriend and my own. To curb Pharaoh's biting/chewing/nibbling we have tried substituting toys in for hands/fingers/toes/hair/necks,etc.
    Until a couple days ago, this has been pretty unsuccessful and really quite frustrating because it seemed no matter the texture of the toy, he preferred our skin/hair.
    2 toys have stood out for us. He's had short~1ft knotted rope, "multi-textured" squeeky toys, balls, etc… (of those, if we really played and bounced them of walls and floor just right, the balls were decent, but he lost interest quick)
    Now for my suggestions after trying many candidates, in hopes it may bring others similar relief: A "tightly-wound" fuzzy ball, akin to some new tennis balls. (Bought at pet store in a size approximately 2x that of a reg. tennis ball) This toy is not indestructible, but he takes to it instantly when we hold it by the frayed fibers and dangle it to it entice him.
    And the most effective and durable by far is an elk antler(bought again at pet store). Occasionally Pharaoh displays some disinterest towards this device, however some creative play/tricks (chewing/acting you yourself are interested in chewing it, slithering it slowly on the floor then darting it about, playing on his attention, etc.) will entice him to go for it. Once he has it in his little chompers, he never let's go immediately.
    P.S. this information, like presumably most, is likely subjective-this "subject" being a 10 week old pure breed basenji, cared for by 2 (in the winter months) fairly inactive/home bodies. We do, both, work from home and therefor VERY closely monitor Pharaoh. We feel we have a collective keen eye to determine Pharaoh's needs and upon researching fairly indestructible and safe-for-puppy items, we came this elk antler. The store we used had 3-4 sizes/variations, we settled on the next to smallest I believe. It's about the length of my wrist to fingertips, and similar width too.
    hope this helps someone. Believe price was $15-20, we read comment online of person mentioning it lasts her about 2 months before she must buy another, perhaps Pharaoh is too young to chew it up, but I currently don't see how he'll get through it, especially in a number of a few months. Thanks for sticking in there,sorry if this is too long-drawn, circular. I wished to strike a balance between being succinct and completely expressing our joy and relief.

  • Your story is so similar to mine, though mine is two and has not changed. Totally destructive. Even though he has had lots of training, gets mental stimulation, and goes to the dog park every day, he is no longer fun to be around. My brand new wood floors and furniture are ruined, my car is scratched up and dirty and he refuses to come to me. It is cold here, too, and when I took him to the park yesterday (all ice, snow, mud and cold water) he would not leave…even after all the other dogs left. The only way I caught him was that his paws were beginning to freeze and he could only keep three on the ground at a time. It was dark by then, I was nearly frostbit myself.

    I have had several GOOD dogs in the past. This one has been to the "best" trainers in town, has a great vet and a nice home.

    I don't think it would be ethical to adopt this monster out, so I am considering putting him down myself and cut my losses, both emotional and financial.

    I just wrote a note to the breeder to see if they have similar problems with the dogs they sell.

    I had such high hopes.

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