Hard to live with my Basenji

My Basenji is 1 year and 2 months old, I got him when he was 3 months of age.
When he reached 9 months of age, he started to exhibit really bad separation anxiety, to the point that I am now no longer able to leave the house without having somebody stay with him or without taking him to my mother's house ( which is temporary because she will eventually be moving to a rental apartment and no pets are allowed).

Apart from all of this he exhibits a number of behavioural issues:

  1. He is potty trained but he sometimes urinates here and there, especially if I don't allow him to follow me to a room in the house.
  2. He developed aggression towards other male dogs, which is a huge problem for me as I am unable to keep him at doggy day care while I'm at work.
  3. His play is very rough - other dogs get irritated by him sometimes and he also play bites which can be painful on both humans and other animals.
  4. He doesn't take no for an answer and keeps challenging me when I try to correct his behaviour.
  5. On one occasion I had a few friends over and one friend got too close to him and he bit her in the nose- she needed to get stitches and now has a permanent scar.

Ive tried crate training but he just freaks out when he's left in the crate even for 5 minutes (I feed him in it).
If I try to leave the house he will howl like crazy and destroy the place. I live in a block of apartments so the howling is a big problem, so simply crating him has not proven to be a solution for me.

I've reached a point where I only go out of the house to work and to go to school. I completely gave up on social events, unless I can bring my dog with me (which can sometimes be annoying as he tends to be very demanding and does't sit quietly).

I just feel like he's disrupted my life in so many ways. I can't go out, and when I'm home I'm constantly anxious and on edge that he's going to be up to no good.

I walk him for 30-45mins in the morning and in the evening. Occasionally we run too. I used to take him off leash to dog parks but now I had to eliminate that because he can be dangerous around other male dogs.

I'm currently undergoing pack leadership training. It has been rather frustrating as he is constantly challenging me.

I'm so unhappy with the situation at present and I don't know if there is much more I can do, I feel like I'm about to break down. I had no idea it will be THIS challenging and I feel like he's completely taken over my life and took away my freedom - to do basic things like buy groceries, work, etc...

Do you guys have any tips?

Is there something I'm missing??

Hi,
We had a lot behavioral issues too with our boy Cafu. He used to destroy furniture when we left the house. He also destroyed pillows, sheets, conforters, door frames, clothes. He essentially destroyed almost everything in the home. He also does not tolerate the crate. We used to go out despite all of this, although never for more than two hours or so. Today Cafu is 2 and his behavior is much better. He seems to listen more and does not destroy things anymore when left alone. He seemed to have improved a lot after reaching about a year and half, so hopefully you will see the same. We d

@bluebert
wow, so sorry. My name is Chris. I have never taken the trouble to respond to any post, and have read many. I see that 44 people have read your post and not responded.
I am not an expert but I have a female the same age. I am having challenges but nothing like you are describing. I have a female and we have settled into a fairly smooth routine. I have found that a predictable routine keeps her more willing to listen. My vet sold me a mild anti anxiety meds for vet appointments because these visits are so stressful for her. Perhaps that would reduce his separation anxiety. If he is not neutered I would start there. My girl only tolerates a crate open, she will go on to sleep. In general I do not think these dogs love confinent.
My experience is that reward training rather than harsh scolding is more productive. But occasionally she, Piper, will do something and really sets off my husband and he will shout at her. She does seem to get that there are boundaries and she will get yelled at if she crosses it with him but she still will jump up and sleep next to him on the sofa without hesitation 10 min later. I am amazed at the intelligence which makes them even a bigger challenge in some ways.
I can feel that you are close to giving up. Seek out help from a professional trainer, but there definitely needs to behavior modification to make this work. Hang in there. Sorry I do not have more wisdom for you.

They do much better when they have another dog around. When I say better, I mean like night and day, They don't like to be alone. Find an easy going, mellow but playful rescue 😉 Coming from my own personal experience. It may take time before they become pals but end results are a life changer.

With basenjis,training should start the minute you got him home. Crate training a young puppy is not hard but if you wait to start training until much older,yes it is a problem but, you created the problem.
With the use of some simple homeopathic remedies,you can help his separation anxiety.
All male basenjis go through a growing up period,they are like teenagers and test you. If you don't correct this behavior,it will get worse.
Train,don't complain. Firm discipline should be the norm. If you let your basenji run the house and don't give them direction they will take the upper hand.
I have bred,trained basenjis for 41 years and in this timeframe have had MANY basenjis. I am alpha in my house and my dogs know it.
Your b is very spoiled and needs direction to get back on track.
Calming homeopathic remedies and anti-aggression remedies can be used to readjust his mind.

We had a bad time with our Skeeter at first. She was in to everything. She even tore curtains down. If she was doing something wrong and you scolded her, she would stop until you left the room and then she would go ahead and do whatever she started to do in the first place. When she was 3 years old a husky showed up at our house and we took him in. They were good friends, however, she only let him on the couch if it suited her and she would get very aggressive with him. Thankfully, he had so much hair that she didn't hurt him. I had a run built for them and let them run together for a few hours every day and that seemed to help a lot. She for the most part is a very high strung dog. She definitely has a personality all her own. Bless her heart, she is over 16 years old now and beginning to get stiff and hard to get around. Over a year ago, she was diagnosed with a brain or spinal tumor and got so sick that I had a vet scheduled to come and put her down and even had her grave dug but I opted not to give up on her, so I stopped all dog food and treats that contain red dye or sodium nitrite and she still has a very mild seizure once in a while, no falling down or shaking all over, just a shake of her head and blinking of her eyes. We lost the husky 4 weeks ago and since then when I leave the house my husband says she howls something terrible. I've thought of getting another dog to keep her company but I am 75 years old and my husband isn't well and I fear that if I got a pup, it could out live me and then what would happen to it and if I got an older dog, I might have to go through the heart ache of losing another one, so I've decided no more dogs but I know I'll be lost without her. She is the most independent, my way or not at all dog I've ever seen but I love her spirit.

We had A Basenji for 12 yrs. until she passed. She was 3 mos. when we got her. Never could crate train her. She chewed out some of her teeth so we gave up on that. She suffered from separation anxiety and was very destructive until about 2 yrs. when she got better. We got Seeka at 10 mos. from the same breeder in Georgia. She was such a handful. She growled at my husband any time he was near. She would run through the house constantly bouncing off the furniture and was very destructive. We called the breeder and planned to take her back. The breeder suggested my husband lie in the floor and give her treats to try and bond with her. It was successful after a couple of weeks. She is 3 now and still suffers from separation anxiety and is still somewhat destructive. I have found spraying the furniture with Apple Cider vinegar and using tin foil keeps her from destroying everything . I take her to an off leash park for an hour or two daily which helps with her behavior.

                  I.

I just have to mention this.....These are Basenjis we are talking about. They should come with a warning label on them and a very detailed one at that. A good breeder will make sure first time owners fully understand what that are getting into. These are not "normal" dogs, probably the best you will ever own (and the worst also) but they are not normal. They are so different from a normal dog that first time owners are taken aback to being downright shocked by their behavior. Some of these behaviors will not be trained out of them and trying to do so can makes things worse. You have to adapt to some of them and change those you can but realize they will NEVER be a normal dog. Just think, they were plucked out of the Congo in Africa and brought over.....if that means anything. My point and concern is that many new owners are not fully informed before allowing them to take these wonderful dogs home. It is so sad to hear one is given up by an ill informed owner after the dog has become attached to his family. So please let's educate those who are considering taking home a Basenji, so they will be prepared or choose another breed that is more suitable for their home.

@bluebert said in Hard to live with my Basenji:

My Basenji is 1 year and 2 months old, I got him when he was 3 months of age.
When he reached 9 months of age, he started to exhibit really bad separation anxiety, to the point that I am now no longer able to leave the house ....<<

It is impossible to know what started this, but it is obvious the behavior has reinforced until you do have serious problems. Have you talked to the breeder?
Packleader training? The concepts about pack leaders and alphas are outdated and often detrimental.

You'll find a lot of info recently posted on crate and separation anxiety in these 2 threads. This might help getting a hold on some things. You might also talk to your veterinarian about medication to help with anxiety at least temporarily.
https://basenjiforums.com/topic/14630/puppy-issues
https://basenjiforums.com/topic/14629/night-howling/14

Apart from all of this he exhibits a number of behavioural issues:

  1. He is potty trained but he sometimes urinates here and there, especially if I don't allow him to follow me to a room in the house. <<
    Put him in a crate or outside during the day so he can scream a few without the police being called. Or get a friend to come help. Put him in a down/stay have your friend stand on his leash, leave, come back and praise and repeat a few times daily so your leaving comes to equal the concept of you going to another room means a treat.

If you can afford a behaviorist...now may be time.

  1. He developed aggression towards other male dogs, whichever is a huge problem for me as I am unable to keep him at doggy day care while I'm at work.<<

You have a maturing male dog...this isn't abnormal behavior. Sometimes they play nice, often aggression towards same sex is high. You may need to find a sitter who has only him or only a few females.

~3. His play is very rough - other dogs get irritated by him sometimes and he also play bites which can be painful on both humans and other animals. <<

The moment he starts to get rough, end play. Pick a command, like "gentle ". Playing nice? Good gentle..treat. Gets rough, " no rough!" and immediately end play. He will learn escalating ends what he wants. It would help all his behaviors if you really tire him out first.

  1. He doesn't take no for an answer and keeps challenging me when I try to correct his behaviour.<<

In every situation, someone gets trained. One command, only one, then you enforce it. If that means you leave a short leash on him while you supervise so you can grab him, do it. It doesn't take long to teach a dog "leave it" means to stop whatever it is doing...be it getting in the trash or looking at the neighbor cat. Your dog will realize it's one chance to not be in an enforced down stay is to obey.

  1. On one occasion I had a few friends over and one friend got too close to him and he bit her in the nose- she needed to get stitches and now has a permanent scar<<

You have an understanding friend...police and lawyers could have been called.

It seems like your dog needs to start all over at the start and slowly rebuild a relationship where commands are followed.

All obedience work helper to build the pathways to compliance. This site will help you start over and do it right.

http://www.clickerlessons.from

last edited by DebraDownSouth

@jhewell I knew my Basenji from when she was 3 days old. I brought her home at age 12 weeks. She shrieked the entire way home. She had horrible separation anxiety so I took her everywhere with me except to the Grocery Store. She was raised with a Wolf and a Cat. That Cat was the Alpha. I had her for 16 years and this year would have been her 20th Birthday. I found that she did better when she was with the Wolf and the Cat but that did not stop the House destruction.

I found that she was trained by older well-trained dogs (a 2-year-old Labrador and a 15-year-old Mutt) because she modeled her behavior after theirs. Basenjis refuse to negotiate so you have to be one step ahead of them all the time. I miss my little dog like crazy and will eventually find a relative. She was an amazing dog and to know her was to love her.

When she died my Quarterhorse was puzzled because she no longer went with me to the Horse Farm. He used to let her sleep on him in the Summer and would nudge her with his nose so she would roll off of him and move out of his way so he could stand up. By all means get another Dog or a Cat. The Cats are very good at defending themselves and a Female Dog of a similar size would be the best. Good luck and don't give up!

I am so sorry you are having this issue. I have 2 basenjis and in total I have had 5. So I have seen a few personalities. My first one was like yours. He would pee on the bed while staring my husband down. He was potty trained but he was marking and trying to dominate. The crate was a nightmare. 6 months of cleaning out poop, pee and vomit, every day. Anything I put in it was destroyed. If I left him in the house for 5 minutes he would howl and poop and pee because his separation anxiety was so awful. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom! I hate to tell you this but it never improved until we got a female basenji to keep him company. Neutering helped a bit with the dominance but other than that it did little. But literally over night once we got Tia, Whiskey was a new dog. She became alpha. He chilled out. They could be locked in the kitchen together while we were out. We never could leave the two of them with full run of the house, same as above no pillows, cushions or blankets were safe from being eaten. But they were happy, we could go out and 90% of the bad habits stopped instantly. They were both neurotic dogs and I don’t think either of them could have ever been an only dog or would have grown out of or been trained out of their panics. The anxiety meds or stress remedies I haven’t tried so they might help. Good luck! I would never not have a basenji but they are all consuming. They are not dogs for us but demanding children who get pissed when they don’t get their way. My current basenjis are from a different breeder and they have almost no panic, they can go off leash with great recall. So maybe look into getting a basenji girl from a different breeder? I know the thought is terrifying that you will get double the bad but I swear my life was 100% better with 2. Good luck!

@jhewell said in Hard to live with my Basenji:

I just have to mention this.....These are Basenjis we are talking about. ...These are not "normal" dogs, probably the best you will ever own (and the worst also) but they are not normal. They are so different from a normal dog that first time owners are taken aback to being downright shocked by their behavior. Some of these behaviors will not be trained out of them and trying to do so can makes things worse. ...... many new owners are not fully informed before allowing them to take these wonderful dogs home. It is so sad to hear one is given up by an ill informed owner after the dog has become attached to his family. So please let's educate those who are considering taking home a Basenji, so they will be prepared or choose another breed that is more suitable for their home.<<<<

I totally agree that irresponsible breeders let anyone have a pup, suitable or not. It's a problem. And while dogs rehome with less trauma than we romanticize, it's still sad.

Yes, basenjis have some breed quirks. But in general, I don't find them all that different. Samoyeds have a boatload of quirks...many shared by basenji. Many breeds need smarter training. Generally I would disagree that you can't train a basenji to do most anything...it just may take more effort than it's worth.

@rocky1 Whoa. That is the most discouraging answer you could have ever given to @Bluebert. Your reply may convince the owner to give up and surrender the dog. I have a 2.5 year old basenji with some of the behavior the owner described. Our dog is a handful, and we've coped with it with positive results, but we are both lucky to be retired, so our dog has both of us around most of the time. This is not possible for most dog owners. About 6 months ago, our male basenji developed what I thought was a compulsive behavior, he incessantly bites fabric (doesn't put a hole in it, but bites it). Long story short (after visits to 2 different vets) we found an animal behaviorist to take him to. She observed him for 2 hours, in a portable pen, with us in the room. The visit was very positive, and these were her observations about our basenji. He is chewing deprived, thus the constant biting. After an hour she put a pigs ear in the pen and he loved it. Chewed it, tossed it around, sniffed it. She said to keep him away from dog parks, because it overstimulates him. She said we should get a good walking harness and recommended Dean and Tyler. He has it and it's the best harness we've had. She also said to use a long retractable leash, which we are now doing. She said to walk him in areas without too many dogs and to let him sniff and explore for as long as he wants to. She said this will satisfy his need to explore and investigate his surroundings. She said that basenjis do not respond to scolding or hitting, rather it makes them even more difficult. Reward clicker training is better. And a group training session is too distracting because of the other dogs.

Basenjis can be aggressive and try to dominate other dogs. Our 6-month basenji was a dog lover. At 2.5 years old, he is no longer fond of other dogs. So, we've adjusted how we walk him outside.
Also, when it comes to clicker training I am pretty incompetent. Will you always have your clicker and treats with you when he starts misbehaving? Probably not.

I feel your pain, because basenjis are a handful. They're primitive dogs, and not as obedient as other breeds. But they are fascinating, beautiful, and smart.

last edited by ktiefen1

Hi, WOW..although some great info..I will share mine. I have had two Basenji's, my girl pasted away about 1 yr. ago at 18. I rescued both she and Rickie. Rickie was 1 1/2 yrs old and a MAJOR handful, VERY alpha and it was his way or the highway. One thing that will help is the type of food you feed your Basenji. Believe me, it will make a huge difference in the temperament. These Basenji's have (for the most part) a very sensitive tummy. It took me years to figure this out!
And as said earlier by someone, they LOVE routines. My guy attack me 4 times the 1st year I had him..not nice! As for food, as you may know the cannot tolerate wheat, corn, soy or ANY grain foods..it makes them itch on the inside! Also, again, just my experience...chicken is tooooo high in protein..so I use turkey. Crating...not good, they HATE being confined. I agree, you can train your little one out of most these behaviors, but it takes time and consistency. My boy Rickie is almost the perfect Basenji...and he is a great listener and knows I am the BOSS!!! I have a few tricks to help you..if you want to hear them let me know. I will ALWAYS have a Basenji! And I might add, they don't always need another cat or dog to be happy, my Rickie loves being my "only one". Good luck to you.

I have a basenji mix rescue that I adopted when he was 5 months old. I recognize many of the behaviors you describe. Amazingly, after he turned 1 year old, it was like a switch flipped and he was much better so there may be hope for your pup as well. Cody is 3-1/2 now and only recently have I felt like he recognizes me as HIS human. 2 things which I found to be helpful was Dr. Karen Overall's relaxation protocol. You can download a pdf file here:
https://www.boulderhumane.org/sites/default/files/ProtocolforRelaxation.pdf

And recently I began giving him a Zuke's calming treat (ordered from Amazon) before leaving him at home and the occasional potty mistakes have disappeared.

He's extremely food motivated so that has helped a lot as well as what others have mentioned about routines. A friend told me that dogs learn how to be dogs from other dogs. He has a pack of regulars at the park and I think that has helped, too.

@ktiefen1
I replied with my opinion . I have bred basenjis for 41 years and have educated many puppy people.
I tell people that when they bring a basenji into there house that they are bringing a " mini wolf" into there house.
Trainers that train other breeds are not equipped to "handle" a basenji.
I have used calming herbs and homeopathic remedies with great success and I learned over the years to never take these "wild things" for granted.
I watch people with puppies when they are thinking about a basenji,if they have children,I watch how they discipline there children. Once a coup[le came out to see my pups, they where not able to handle there own children so I sent them on there way. Way to many people are not able to control there children so why would they be able to control a basenji. You have to have strong personality to be able to handle a breed as primitive as a basenji.
I have found that the new Africans are much more trainable and so I have added them to my bloodlines.
I have a basenji Service Dog who is the most remarkable dog and learns faster then a child.Her temperament is outstanding.
Debra, I know you will remember this litter,the one from Jeff S. in Georgia.
She is the bases for my new breeding program. Most breeders out there are not focusing on what is important. You must breed a dog that has a stable temperament but also sell your pups to people who are able to stand up to the uniqueness of this breed.

I don't remember jeff s. What is the kennel name?

Basenjis are hard..so are chows, Samoyed and a lot of breeds people need to know what to expected. They should consider doing a foster. But taking one without any experiences? No.

Don’t give up! Three vets told me to put my b-boy down. I finally found a vet willing to work with us and a veterinary behaviorist. The vet behaviorist prescribed Prozac and alprazolam. We went from destruction, to daycare and now, my b-boy isn’t afraid I’ll never come back . It is work and I cried a lot. My b-boy didn’t manifest any behaviors until my b-girl died. He is the sweetest basenji, I would want no other. I’m so glad I hung in there. You can too! Don’t give up!
Best wishes. I’m in MN if you want the vet and vet behaviorist referrals.
Take care.

**@bluebert Hi. I am writing from Colorado where we rescued a female (very different 'creature' - as I do not truly consider them to be dogs, per say) eight (8) years ago when she was four (4). After being exposed to Basenji for about a year (male brothers and a young female), we made the decision to rescue her. She was extremely abused (1/2 her body weight when surrendered). Therefore, she came to us with different issues, but female aggression (fear and separation anxiety) in a different fashion. Although I cannot claim the expertise of the Breeder or those who have been owned by multiple Basenji, we do have a very close friend who renamed her for us (converted her previous English name to his Congolese dialect) who is from the Congo. He is from the Congo and filled us in at length about what we both found to be these amazing, but never truly tame creatures. He mentioned if they were not inter-bred, they would ALWAYS remain feral in nature and therefore, as previously mentioned, retain some of their ancestral traits which are very 'wolf-like' in nature. We have seen that with Bakagi. She has also constantly tried to establish herself as the Alpha female in our household, from which I constantly must perform reinforcing behaviour she is NOT. It seems a bit overt at times and she has indeed, showed some of the behaviour your young male has although never biting someone in the face. I am uncertain as to how you dealt with that situation but the discipline should have been immediate. Not cruel, but IMMEDIATE. It is the ONLY way they understand and comprehend. One absolutely cannot compare these animals to ANY other as one must remember they date back to the days of Pharaohs (at least that is the earliest recorded history of them - 5,000 years ago!), when the African Kings took them as gifts to the Pharaohs who adored them due to their silence, loyalty and regal appearance. They even mummified them (I have seen the mummies).

Our Basenji STILL has separation anxiety when crated at night or when we are gone. We have tried not crating her at night and allowing her to sleep in a room with us, but the aggression returned. As soon as we crated her, the aggression subsided.

To control the separation anxiety, I use a 'white noise' machine AND Baroque Classical Music (recommended by Colorado Basenji Rescue). It works! However, we DO have to use BOTH.

I HIGHLY agree with diet. If you consider that our behaviour - especially that of children - changes depending upon diet, think about that of him being a young male.

I also agree the dog run sounds like a great idea in addition to the homeopathic remedies. We have NEVER allowed our Basenji to be given ANY 'people' food and have always scrutinized her diet and supplements. I IMMEDIATELY remove anything which appears to alter her health or behaviour in ANY fashion as when she leaves this planet, I wish it to be due to natural and not man-implemented causes.

Biting of ANY kind is NOT acceptable. If he is chewing, are you offering him alternative things to chew - I.e. bones, long-term treats, Nyla bones (NEVER rawhide or tennis balls as rawhide is very bad for digestion and tennis balls are full of sawdust which will rapidly wear down their teeth).

I am not certain I have been of much help but if you wish to try to keep him and you presently feel you are unable to handle him, perhaps the breeder would agree you may be able to 'foster' him out for a while as it would also help him to be socialized if he is fostered with someone who is presently owned by a Basenji and has the patience to socialize him. His behaviour could prove to be entirely different around someone else outside of your home.

I will keep you both in my prayers as I feel these amazing creatures are well worth the effort.

I forgot to mention in my previous post, something which works with Bakagi when her behaviour is either aggressive or 'out-of-control'. I place my hand completely around her muzzle (simulating an actual muzzle), look her directly in the eyes, and firmly tell her 'no' or that her behaviour is unacceptable. She truly 'gets the message' even if I have to repeat the action. It is great advice passed on to me.

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