Seems like you have a very cute and sweet girl. Congrats!
Our male basenji (Kenji) is seven years old and has slept in a crate all his life. He's a great dog, very friendly and smart. At night he goes right in (gets his little treat) and is good for the night. Very routine. In the last two weeks though his behavior at night has changed drastically. Every morning at about 4:00 he begins to whine and pull at his crate door. He seems distressed. His behavior outside the crate during the day is as it always has been. His bedtime is consistent.
We've taken him to the vet and he is fine physically. Something (at least in the mind of our basenji) has changed and I'm racking my brain trying to think of what it could be? I'd appreciate any ideas anyone might have. Have you experienced this? Are there things we can try?
Does he need to relieve himself at 4 a.m.? If not, is there anything you can identify that may be waking him at that time, e.g. a neighbour leaves early for work, a cat walks through the yard, a neighbouring dog barks, a female in heat is let out to potty......you may need to do some detective work. He will notice things going on outside that you won't be aware of. Does he settle down if you let him out, or continue to act upset?
Fine physically, was there a full blood workup done? Check for UTI. Full Thyroid panel, not just what your regular vet would check, full panels need to be sent off. That needs to be done first.
What happens at 4am when you let him out of the crate?
@tanza Yes, we full had a blood workup done but not a full thyroid panel. We need to go back then. One of the first things we thought of was that he needed to go out and we'd let him go out but sometimes he'd relieve himself and sometimes not so that didn't seem to be the issue. In any event, he'd go back to whining when we put him back.
@eeeefarm I'm going to get myself up early and keep an eye out, thanks for the suggestion. He does go right back to whining if we let him out and he goes back in. He is inconsistent with relieving himself (sometimes yes, sometimes no) and he isn't prone to accidents in the crate.
Any chance he is cold or uncomfortable? I don't know where you live but where I am it can get chilly at 4 a.m. especially if the thermostat is set low for overnight. Granted, this is something you would likely be aware of if you have changed the setting recently. Where is his crate at night?
What is his behaviour like when you put him outside? Does he appear to be looking for or interested in anything? Sometimes you never know what changes a dog's behaviour. My niece's GSD at 3 years old all of a sudden is anxious during thunderstorms, which never bothered him before. Go figure!
@eeeefarm Thanks very much, he's been in the same place for years. I didn't mention that we have a female basenji also (his best buddy) their crates are side by side and have been for six years. Whatever is bothering him isn't affecting her (although I'm sure she'd like him to pipe down). His behavior outside of the crate remains constant as far as I can see, he doesn't seem to be interested or focused on anything that I'd say seems unusual. But, I'll have to look more closely.
If you hadn't been to vet, I'd have suspected UTI. If not that, kidney or bladder stones? Definitely thyroid check.
Is he getting the same exercise? Can you do more so he's really tired at bedtime?
Any new medications? Change in food?
If it were something icky like a mouse, his buddy would be bothered too... but it could still be outside nocturnal creatures suddenly stopping by.
Hope you find the cause. Losing sleep is not good for anyone.