Separation anxiety and what to do?
  • ![Our one year-old basenji adopted two months ago urinates in the House when we leave. We leave him with a Kong filled with goodies but he does not eat it until we return. We have only been leaving for a short time, about half an hour. And we make sure that we take him PP before we leave. So it looks like the problem is separation anxiety because there are no problems when we are home. Believe where he was before he was left outside the house.](image url)

Do you have a crate?

He needs to be crated while you are away
How long Is he left alone?
They say they don’t pee in the crate but mine did. Eventually he was allowed loose in the house- but that took several years.

We are trying to work him up so we just leave him for half an hour. He did it three times in that short time span. That is really discouraging to hear that it took years to cure your Basenji of the problem!

We just got a crate about a week ago and are trying to get him acclimated to it. We have not closed the door yet. Do do not know what will happen if we close the door

i will tell you my experience. I have a 13 week female. I spent 3 weeks prepping to take her into my home. I did all the things you are supposed to do with the crate and treats ect.....well she peed and pooed in her own crate space and walked all over it....then she stopped the pooing and still does the peeing every time I leave no matter how long. Sometimes she even peed in her own bed. I have never seen behavior like this from a dog. I finally got around to closing the crate up after she was used to it and making it her home. Bad idea....she climbed the crate broke her name yelped for so long and I even practiced coming and going to try and show her that "id be back" and to calm her and this did not help. I did give her a reward for going into the crate and after she was calm in the crate and this seemed to work a little...just a little. I have found that i give her something really good to chew on she is distracted enough when i step out that she will forget to yelp for a minute but i do hear her after i m closing the garage door. Also I have found that If I sneak into the house she is really calm in her crate and has not peed but if she hears me open the garage door she will yelp on purpose and pee. I have spent the past 3 weeks cleaning her pee. She does go once I take her out of the crate and I have been consistent with a training pad even though i dont want to use this i have to keep her indoors due to PARVO in North Carolina till she is a bit older and has her immune system up a bit more. I have just been consistent with ignoring the yelping i think she will eventually understand that crying will not make me return to her and cave to her loud demanding yelps. I am still waiting for the yelping to stop. She has stopped peeing as much when I leave a pad in her closed off area. Since they get board and are prone to chewing and digging she has tore up the first 8 pads i tried doing this with. I IGNORED IT ALL and kept laying it down in the same spot for her. She is very very slowly catching on I can at least walk her to a fresh pad immediately upon opening the door i grab her and walk her to the pad and say "go potty" each time and she does and when she is doing it i praise her so much lots of love and i give her just a few kisses and let her run loose for a few minutes till i bring her back to me to try and control her environment. Also here is one other thing that is working I bought her a small bed. put one of my old shirts in it along with lots of different texture chew toys I added a towel for the pee.....but she is getting used to the bed being "her spot" and she is more comforted by this bed then the crate and I am training her to sleep in it as well hoping to move it down to the crate with hopefully little to no separation anxiety. Does anyone else have any good tricks that worked. She also didn't like the KONG at all. If I leave her a bunch of Cardboard she will chew it all up and that seems to satisfy her need to be destructive on that and not anything in the house......i have to keep close watch on her though and constantly give her guidance back to the chewable stuff. -Ali

What a challenge you have! Such patience to work with our little ones.... We are getting a video cam to help us diagnose the problems. It will have 2-way audio so it should be interesting to observe and talk when it appears some persuasion is needed to prevent "accidents".

@ALIHUNT, How long are you leaving her alone? What age was she when you got her? 13 weeks is still a baby. We take pups that are used to company and lock them in a crate where they likely can't see much and leave them alone. Of course they are anxious. Urinating and defecating and then walking in it is classic separation anxiety/confinement anxiety. It takes time for a pup to adjust to a new home and to being left alone. Best to plan early days with any new animal so you don't need to be absent much before they have adjusted to their new surroundings.

My intro to this breed was a dog that would not crate train.
I used an open crate. I used jelly beans which could only be found in the crate. If there was noise, i threw a blanket over the crate. It took time, I only had the dog in the crate while i was there. Eventually, I got the amount down to 2 jelly beans.

Sorry, this dog was a tail chaser when I got her. Would not even look you in the face, let alone watch for commands. I picked her up a lot. Sometimes would turn her upside down.

It took me 2 years, training at least twice a day to get her mellowed out and some of that you can credit to aging.

Still will look for that jelly bean when i instruct her to get in her cage, but she uses it on her own now without a bribe.

@alihunt I suspect it's not seperation anxiety. You mentioned that she urinates "no matter how long" you're gone and that if she hears you open the garage door "she will yelp on purpose and pee" (even if she hasn't peed before that). Consider this: She's been waiting for you to come back and she's being so good, but when she hears you she gets really excited (and pees by accident). So your new job is to get her outside as fast as humanly possible so she can pee. And when she does, give her more praise and playtime than you would normally give her. If she misses the mark (so-to-speak) the first couple of tries, well, don't be discouraged. She's going to need to understand that the first thing that will happen is going outside to pee. Then she gets attention and loves. It might take her a couple days to get the idea. And you might have to move her crate closer to the exit to help her succeed. If, when you get inside, you find out that she wasn't able to hold it while you were gone, don't say anything to her (same plan, take her straight outside to pee and praise her)... then clean her crate and get ready for the next time you have to go out. Even if you are only walking down the driveway to get the mail. I think that she is trying really hard and wants to be good for you. She just needs a little help. Let us know how things go.

last edited by elbrant

@basenjifan Hi, separation anxiety is a tough one. I don’t leave my girl in a crate for more than 2 hours, but that is by my choice and not something she complains about. If we are going out for more than 2 hours I have her set up in a mudroom that has ceramic tile flooring and tile halfway up the walls. Not everyone has such an arrangement, but a small bathroom might also work. As long as he’s not a chewer who would chew up the cabinetry and shower curtains, etc.. Crazy as it may sound I always leave classical music cd's on for her playing softly - they really mellow her. Of course without access to any electrical wires. Baby lullaby cd's work well too.

My first boy was the same, it absolutely was separation anxiety. He would cry and pee and poop and even vomit in his crate every day for 6 months. We worked so we didn’t have much of a choice, he would do the same if he wasn’t kennelled but then we played the game of find that smell. Every day for 6 months I bathed him and washed out the kennel. It was a nightmare. Then we decided to get him a sister and overnight he never did it again. She peed in the kennel the first day and he piled the puppy pad on top of it to try and hide it. But from that day on I never had a problem. My first two were super neurotic, die hard chewers, runners, stubborn like crazy, they would eat the sheets on my bed while we slept!since then I have had 4 more and the rest have all been way more relaxed but we just live in a pack style life so I have never dealt with separation anxiety again and I have to say life with 2 or more is way more relaxing than one. Everyone is just much happier. If that’s not an option then first thing is a tired dog is too tired to be bad so tucker your dog out, then give them something to chew if that appeals to them, maybe a frozen Kong with puppy safe peanut butter, leave a tv on or music, and maybe even try some rescue remedy to help them stay relaxed. Also reduce the size of the crate so they can only turn around. If they have room to pee and lie down elsewhere you will have a hard time breaking the habit. Good luck!

@basenjifan I don't really consider b's (especially males) reliably housebroken for pee until almost 2 years--they're so excitable, developing control can take some that long.
That said, when was your boy neutered, when you got him? B4 you got him? I had a horrible time housebreaking a young male until I realized he had a bladder infection he caught from catheterization following his neuter surgery. I've also had dogs develop bladder infections from being cathetered to get urine samples. If his neuter surgery was within the past few months, or if the previous owner had trouble with housebreaking following neuter surgery, get him checked for a UTI.

Also, is your boy from a reliable breeder and do you have proof his parents weren't Fanconi affected?

If you have no problems when you are home, I doubt the issue is a UTI or lack of housebreaking. One reason I recommend a video camera if possible is to judge exactly what is going on. Peeing on your return could be submissive or excitation peeing, but does he do this if only one of you goes out and then returns? If not, that would tend to rule out those possibilities. Sure sounds like a separation or confinement anxiety. If you can crate when you are home and it doesn't happen, then it isn't confinement but separation. Either way, not an easy problem to overcome but may sort itself out as he gets more comfortable and secure. I agree, another dog in the house can be very helpful, but perhaps the radio or the TV might be good if you haven't already tried them.

We got him 2 months ago when he was a little over one. Thanks for all the suggestions! I am going to go out for a short time and come back, lengthen the time and also try the crate and Kong. He never goes when we are home so maybe it’s his way of saying if you do not want a mess, don’t leave me alone!!

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