Fearful pup

@wyldepaws Sounds like you have a good grasp of things. Keeping moving forwards is a great tactic. What you describe is typical of some Basenjis, they just need to build confidence over time.

Plus some things spook out every basenji on occasion. It’s the “what the heck is that” moment. My first Basenji was supremely confident and very rarely spooked. However one day we parked the car down the side of the house / in the back yard because of driveway maintenance. I let him out and he immediately stopped and stiffened, didn’t like it at all lol. He then stealthy crept slowly across the garden watching it very closely.

I got some garden stands for growing tomatoes one time and assembled them in the kitchen. My second Basenji came racing around the corner, skidded to a stop when she saw them and shot off lol.

They are very clever and observant dogs and notice even small changes.

It's always good to read about dogs with issues getting into the right home. 🙂 You are most certainly doing things right.

So this is a 3rd home and a lot of continual changes. The goal is to make experiences positive. I suggest one thing at a time, building on what you are already doing. I wouldn't wait for a noise to be over to cheerfully say "good noise" so he knows it's the bark/car/other loud noises that you like, not their stopping.

  1. Start SLOW, break it down. First is the collar/halter issues. It helps if you have a harness that needs minimal fussing with-- over his head, legs in, snap shut. If you have someone to help, pick him up and do it so he can't fight much. If not, don't bother with treats... use praise and a very matter-of-fact tone. I would spend 3 or 4 days putting it on him, "GOOD BOY".. take it off. Do it every hour or 2. He'll eventually get bored of the energy expenditure and accept the reality.

2, Since being outside is important for you, and it's good for him, that might be a good place to start teaching him that you are the giver of good stuff.

At what point does he stress about outside? Once you are out the door, or going to it?

If he's anticipating and stresses once you put a leash on him, put a leash on and walk around the house. Sit in different rooms, pet, up talk, after no more than 10 mins, treat and let go.
Do this until he's comfortable, then have a chair near the door and make that your final stop.

Once comfortable with that, open the door and look out with him. Next step is sitting a chair outside. Then sitting the chair in the grass outside. Treats and praise. Next walk him to the road, come back, sit in the chair, pet and praise, go in and remove the harness. Slowly extend the distance.

Note on nails... Dremels are great, but I'd start with one toe at a time. If you do one every few hours, you can get one paw done the first day; 2nd day do 2 nails each time. By the 3rd day the nails will be done. Soon you'll be able to do all of them at once. Or not. Sadly there are some dogs for whom doing nails is a fight to the death. If all else fails, just pay the vet's office to do them, or cut holes in a pillow case like they do cats, drop him in it and hold in air so he can't move and do one foot at a time.

@wyldepaws it’s worth a thought too that he has been bounced around a bit. So in his mind he may well believe he will be somewhere else soon. Once he realizes that he is with you for keeps, he will trust you more.

Mine was with the breeder, then the purchaser, then the co breeder because of logistics. Then at nine months he came with me. I know he was upset and anxious when we picked him up from the co breeder. We stopped at a rest area shortly after picking him up so he could see the co breeder was not there anymore. It took some time for him to realize and adjust, which is an anxious time for them.

When introducing a new dog to the house, the existing dog is usually not too bothered. It’s “hey a play date” lol. Then a few days later it hits them that the new dog is here to stay, so you have to be aware and cautious for a while. The more time goes past and the more he bonds with you, the less anxious he should be.

Thank you for helping this boy! Sounds like you are headed in the right direction with him.

Here are some tricks I've picked up from fostering a feral pack and around 200 basenjis from different backgrounds:

Webmaster harnesses (ruffwear.com) are very secure - a trim basenji with a definite waistline can't pop out of this one.

To get the feral ones used to collars and having collars and harnesses put on them, I introduced them at mealtime. I started out very slow - just draping a rope or leash over their necks when they were eating. They were very food-motivated, though there were a few who I had to start with even more slowly - just leaving a rope or leash next to their food dish while they ate. As they became more comfortable, I would put more on for each meal until they were finally wearing harnesses without a fuss.

To get them used to their nails being done, I used scissor-type clippers with a gentle curve. I let them stand with all four paws on the ground and clipped just the tip of one nail at a time without holding the paw. I would do just one or two at a time with a treat in one hand. They are so easily handled now - I can hold paws without any objection.

Many in the feral pack were too terrified to leave our property, even with other pals along to comfort them. For them, I carried them around for our first 'walks' off of the property, not making a big deal that they were in the safety of my arms - we were just going from point A to point B. After a time or two, they were not trying to hide their heads under my arm. I would then set them down on the ground at the halfway point to have them walk back, not making a big deal if they were mostly crouching.

I've never pressured them with visitors, letting them see I am (and the rest of the pack is) comfortable with visitors or strangers. While I didn't force visitors on them, I also didn't leave access to places like underneath furniture. They did have safe, out of the way spaces where they could go, just not places that left them completely invisible. When walking, I try to make a point of saying hello to people or dogs we see so that the fearful ones will see I'm not afraid of someone approaching. Those fearful of visitors or strangers eventually see by example (mine or the pack) that other humans or dogs aren't bad. Barking dogs were a bit more of a challenge for me to set a good example (I like our non-barkers!), so I tried to compensate by taking in and letting out deep breaths, yawning or talking - "there are those noisy guys who talk too much."

Dear friends, I so enjoyed reading this conversation and I learned so much. I’m a beginner, (adopted my first at 12 weeks after he was rejected by his first owner and sent back to the breeder on an airplane. He was said to be too aggressive). He has had some issues with aggression but certainly not too bad. Now we have adopted a 5 year old female who had had puppies twice. She is more fearful and nervous. My heart goes out to you for giving your boy a new start in a forever home, and I love you for all the care and attention you are giving him to help him through these early fearful times. Those of you who gave advice are helping me me as well with new ideas for my little girl. They certainly are a breed of their own and I appreciate hearing from people who understand that and know what they’re doing. Thanks to you all.

Thanks guys, im much more confident that I’m on the right path with him thanks to all your input.

We had a vaccine visit yesterday and this vet thinks based on tooth detention he may actually be closer to only 14 weeks which would mean he was separated from momma as young as 4 weeks which realy sucks...(but also means we have a bigger socilization window) and he was scared but even the vet said given how obviously scared he was he did very well...no bite, no growl, no bristling, and he commented that he realy was showing a lot of trust in me, a lot of checking in/watching me and as we stood talking he sat/lay quietly watching rather than trying to bolt or hide.

We’ve definatly got a way to go but I’m sure he can overcome all of this.

Outside his problems only kick in once he hears something that spooks him, he’ll go out without a problem, even play in the yard...it’s just if he hears something that is a sudden change of attitude...
If we’re going out for a walk he’ll go out without an issue walk a little spook a little walk a little spook a little...
Loud sounds again or if he sees a person reals spooks him though...

@wyldepaws Sounds like you are doing a great job. So long as he makes steady slow progress, you don’t need to worry unless he shows signs of aggression or doesn’t improve over time.

@wyldepaws - When I brought home my Franie (at 9wks from her co-breeder) she freaked when she heard the neighbors dog bark.... she had never heard dogs barking. The home she was born and raised in was in a selcluded area and no dogs around. Also it was in Chicago so with that weather, not too much outdoor time. Took her a bit to get used to it, each day was better and then she didn't care at all... good thing... LOL, she is a show dog so hears much barking at shows.


We both thank everyone for continued input and encouragement!

@wyldepaws - What a sweetie....

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