Couple issues with my Buxton ...

Soooooo, Buxton is my first Basenji, and I LOVE him tremendously, as does my family. For the record, I have trained and raised two Labrador Retrievers from a few weeks old, although I do realize Basenjis are a whole different ballgame. To be painfully honest, however, the peeing and anxiety are very much making me question Basenji ownership.:(

Buxton is now four months old, and I've had him since he was just shy of nine-weeks. The separation anxiety was present from the very get-go, and I do realize being home 24-7 the past couple months has certainly not helped with his independence training. Having said that, I cannot even get the mail or step out of the room (tend to keep him in the kitchen area) without him exhibiting anxiety, typically through peeing, scratching at the gate, whining, etc. He loves to be outside (I have a beautiful, fenced-in back yard) but, if he's alone, he has found ways in which to escape, even with preventive measures.

Crate training has been a disaster, as he has hurt himself trying to escape both the wire crate and the perimeter fencing; he actually climbed and jumped over the medium height fence (I believe 38"). I've done the traditional acclimation (feeding him in it, Kong toys with food, short durations in it, etc.), but he still exhibits insanely high anxiety in it. I did just purchase a plastic crate, and he seems to be taking to it better (napping in it).

Regarding the peeing, he clearly knows what to do (I've bell trained him), as most of the day he does well and he sleeps eight-hours through the night without having to go out.The peeing in the house tends to occur in the evening and when my kids are with me (every few days). Buxton seems to pee in the house when he has anxiety (I leave the room), the kids are present (maybe dominance related???), and occasionally for no apparent reason, which is often right in front of me.

Any thoughts/advice is greatly appreciated.:)

Anxiety, from whatever cause, certainly seems to be the problem with this pup. Basenjis (and other dogs) that cannot tolerate crates are not rare. I have had two out of my five that could not be crated, otherwise they would injure themselves or work up into a real state if confined. Both of those dogs were adults. The ones I raised from pups never had an issue, but then I didn't use a crate much once I had some confidence in their manners in the house. My dogs slept with me, so it was not an issue at night.

I would probably try "dog proofing" an area as much as possible, ideally somewhere where he can see outside, then work at leaving him for very brief periods, with a distraction (toy with food he has to work to get is a good one). For maximum effect, the toy with food should be visible but inaccessible until you leave.....build up his desire to have it. Be as "matter of fact" as you can, both on leaving and returning. When you come back, do not acknowledge him for a few minutes, especially if he greets you enthusiastically. You do not want to feed his anxiety, so your comings and goings should be as low key as you can possibly make them. That said, no sneaking out, either. Yes, give him his distraction, but don't just disappear. Have a routine that you follow and stick to it, no reassuring words or actions when you depart.

I am assuming this pup is getting lots of exercise, both physical and mental. You might try leaving him for brief periods when he is quite tired. If you succeed at short absences, then gradually (very gradually) increase the time you are out. A useful deterrent to climbing or scratching at barriers is a scat mat placed in front. He won't want to stand on it so it will keep him away. And FYI, 38" is nothing to a Basenji. My boy could hop over that height off a slippery hardwood floor from a standing start......I know because he did it once.

The peeing may be anxiety or perhaps he has a UTI? Worth checking with your vet.

One further thought. A video camera, if available, can be useful in telling you whether the anxiety eases once you have actually left. One of my boys got very upset when I departed, but any destructive behaviour occurred immediately and then he settled down. We got past the impulsive destruction and then he was fine, but it took some work.

last edited by eeeefarm

In addition to what eeeefarm has offered (and I would agree that if you have not you should make sure that he doesn't have an UTI), have you talked to his breeder about the issues? 8 wks is a bit early for Basenjis to be placed, especially in homes that are new to the breed. As a breeder, I find that most all Basenjis are not socially ready to leave their pack or dam (or other adults) until 10 to 12 wks. My pups are not placed until that age unless going to a have with experienced Basenji owners or homes with other dogs. Also at his age, I have found that when teething many times Basenji puppies will totally forget what housetraining is.

forget chain link fence. The curl their paws and work their way up and out. Need at lest a 6 ft board fence.Brace work on the out board side.

I have 12' privacy fences.... is he climbing or digging?

Are you making a fuss when he pees ? Could he be doing it for attention ? That he does it when the kids are around, certainly sounds as though he is jealous of attention you are giving them and wants some for himself. So your reaction is key. Don't make a song and dance about it. Just tend to ignore it - of course clean it up but without saying anything to him and even totally ignoring him so he learns this is NOT the way to attract your notice.

Of course get him checked for an infection, but this would seem to be more of a behavioural issue.

A loosely strung chain link fence will keep even the most avid Basenji climber in. If it sways they have no confidence in scaling it. I protect my vegetable garden from marauding Basenjis with a mere 3 foot fence. But I've had them go over 6 foot of tightly strung fencing.

With regard to crates - oh how I wish all breeders would at least feed pups in them a few times to accustom them. I took one down to Mku's breeder who left it open near the litter who all used it as a playpen, a getaway for a sleep area and regarded it as part of their world. Nothing to be scared of. The size and constitution of the crate is important. Best a wire crate so the pup (or adult dog) can see out on all sides, big enough to be able to sit up straight or lie full out in, and with comfy bedding and a bone or a favorite toy. Enclosed 'varikennel' crates are not good for Basenjis - you need a folding wire cage.

last edited by Zande

Lots of good input already. My thoughts are that he needs confidence building. Very short (5 minute) training sessions to work on commands like sit, stay, leave it, look at me, come, touch, etc., a few times a day, definitely with every meal, should help. Once he does a command reliably with you, have the kids work on the same command. This gives everyone a clear reason to praise him while building communication. Children can bring a lot of energy into a home which can be pretty intimidating when one is a little guy recently separated from mom and littermates. Having them participate in his training in a supervised manner will help them to appear less scary.
I prefer to leave soft rock or sitcom TV on almost all of the time. It helps to avoid a lonely silence while taking the attention away from complete focus on whatever I'm doing. It also masks the sounds of school kids walking by, squirrels running through the trees, other dogs, etc. If I don't leave on something to break the silence, my guys hang around on edge, waiting for the slightest noise to spur them all to jump up and run to the window with hackles raised.

Hey, thanks for the replies, all!!!! Buxton gets LOTS of exercise, and I've tried most of what was suggested. To clarify, the backyard fence is 6' wood privacy, and he escapes by pushing away bricks that I have in place where the fence meets my deck.:/ I do think I have all escape points covered now, but I'm afraid he'll now dig his way out. No UTI, as I had the vet check when he was in last week. Very good thought on the peeing for attention, so definitely going to try the no response tactic. He definitely seems to be taking to his plastic crate (maybe because it's more den-like???), so I will likely start the slow process of enclosing him and leaving for short durations. Can't thank you all enough for sharing all your Basenji wisdom.:)

@buxton-s-dad - Have to say, wire crates are better.... raised Basenjis with wire crates (fold down type) for 30+ years including bitches whelping in them.... remember in plastic crates they really can't see what is going on around them... and he should be fed in that crate. And sorry I don't agree with peeing for attention...

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