Hard to live with my Basenji

I have read some comments about people getting a basenji and not being prepared for it at all. That was certainly the case with my husband and I. We had no idea whatsoever about how they behave. My husband just said let's get one of those dogs that don't bark, so I started looking for breeders. We drove nearly 200 miles one way to get one from a lady that said she had some that the broker wouldn't take and would sell us one for $50. I know now this was a despicable puppy mill. When we got there, she had 14 pups in a pen and told me to pick one of them and if we didn't want the papers on it she would just give it to us but if we wanted papers it would be $50. We said we didn't need the papers, she was just going to be a pet. So I picked one out, I had in mind on my way there that I would call the new dog Rosie but after I got acquainted with her, I said this dog is no Rose so I named her Skeeter. We had a 8 year old terrier mix at the time and the two of them bonded and she didn't show any signs of separation anxiety. She DID NOT like to ride in the car and still doesn't. She had a multitude of allergies, especially food allergies so I bought her special food at the vets office. I had no problem whatsoever getting her house broke and I have never crated her. Luckily, I dearly love dogs and my husband and I were very patient with her and wouldn't have dreamed of getting rid of her. She loved to pick on my husband, she would stand in a chair and wait until he walked by and then jerk his handkerchief out of his back pocket and run down the hall with it, she would chew it up if I didn't get it away from her. She has never given any sign of biting any one and I can even take food out of her mouth if it's something I don't want her to have. She loved to pull hair, when family visited that had long hair and sat on the couch, she would get up there and pull their hair. Not real hard the girls said it didn't hurt she would just tug on it. She also liked to groom my husband, she would get up on the arm of his chair and lick his head. She is a little over 16 years old now and is laying by my chair snoring as I write this. I have had a lot of different dogs in my life and I must say in my limited experience basenjis are very different than most dogs I've ever seen.


Whilst I agree that the breeder was not responsible and I was not prepared for what I was getting into - coming onto a forum for help and having someone rub it in my face isn't exactly helping at this point.

My breeder has completely removed himself from any responsibility - and whenever I called for help he always made it seem as though I'm being bothersome and gave me no help at all.

I came here for advice because this situation is significantly effecting my well being. I cannot take care of myself nor my dog adequately if I am not even able to go to work to earn a living or go to the store to buy food without the risk of having my house wrecked, my dog injured, or my neighbours taking action against me for the constant crying.

I am working very hard to make this work and I will not accept anybody telling me otherwise. I've been looking around for help around where I live but we don't even have a behavioural specialist around. This is the 3rd trainer I've started sessions with, and I've literally contacted all doggy daycares around the area but til now I've only found one willing to take him in and with most they are fully booked and with others I found that as soon as I mention his aggression towards male dogs, I am brushed off.

I am trying my best out of the limited resources and support I am finding and it has not been easy at all which is why I sent this post for some advice....

Thank you for all taking your time to share tips and advice with me - What I am taking with me is that he may eventually calm down and to keep trying using positive reinforcement. Also, his pack leadership training has made him take me more seriously since I've started which has shown some improvement 🙂

I am able to leave him in the living area by himself whilst I am in the bedroom without him freaking out and urinating which is already relieving a lot of stress for me. I have also started desensitisation training and til now have managed 2 minutes being outside without him getting into panic mode.

Also, some mentioned natural remedies, are there any in particular which are recommended?

last edited by Bluebert

@bluebert - Glad to hear you are making some progress.... Considering your comment in your other post about his breeder completely leaving you without assistance, you should consider sharing who he is so that others do not purchase from him. This is really unacceptable for a breeder in my opinion.

While I don't really recommend meds, have you talked to the Vet about a possible try?

I'm not rubbing your face in it as you say, I'm just a little fed up with people in general that don't do any research into the breed that they are getting.
A dog is a very big responsibility, you will have a dog for roughly 15/16 years,it is like adopting a child.
If your breeder won't take responsibility for the lives that he produced then shame on him but, also shame on you. What is done is done and now you have a problem on your hands.
I use the homeopathic remedy ignatia amara, you can get it in the health food store. I also use Valerian Root Complex also at the health food store.These will make crate training easier, It will also calm him down so he is not to aggressive. You also can try some lavender oil on your hands and pet him with it but only in areas he can't reach as basenjis will lick and clean themselves like a cat and you don't want him to ingest it. Orange ruffles also works well.
Vets will only prescribe drugs which I don't agree with anymore since I lost my beloved Thunder.
I can't stress enough to people that they find a breeder that will work with you and in my case I offer to train my pups for the owner. Being a responsible breeder is just not until the pups leave your house ,it's for the life of that dog.

@bluebert I wish I could be of some help to you but having had just the one basenji , I don't have any advice for you. I'm so sorry that you are having these problems. I did notice at my local vets office that they have what they call calming jackets for dogs, I don't know if that would be of any help or not. You have my sympathy, I can only imagine how trying this must be. I know Skeeter has started howling when I leave since our other dog died and it just breaks my heart when I come home and my husband says, she's been crying for an hour. Good luck to you, I hope someone somewhere can help you.

The thunder shirts worked wonders.

last edited by DebraDownSouth

My basenji also has severe separation anxiety. My vet recommended a calming treat with melatonin in it to give to him a half hour before he’s left alone. It’s naturvet “Quiet Moments Calming Aid”. You can get it at petco or any pet store. I also leave out a “security blanket” on the floor where I put all his chew toys. Good luck!

@debradownsouth Thanks Debra, I've just ordered one for him and meanwhile I'm using a scarf wrapped around him and it does calm him down a little but never tried it when he is alone (since he's never alone for the time being)


When I first heard of them, I thought nonsense but went looking. It's the same principle as tight chutes for cattle. The woman who did the resea and developed the hug machine for autistic clients has helped spread t he tecnology.


Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.