Training to be alone

Totally agree with Zande that Paula has the best idea -- get a second Basenji!

Short of that, get the (e)book which Zande has recommended: The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. It has an entire section on how you can handle separation anxiety with a lot of step by step ideas. A lot of what she says has been offered here, but the book is more extensive and in depth. (The Table of Contents isn't the best but you're looking for "Dog Social Behavior and Its Implications -- Alone Training").

All these suggestions are great. What works for 1 dog may not work for another. Keep trying, don’t give up. A tired basenji is a good basenji. Our high energy boy that suffered from separation anxiety would go into destruction mode when we left him, even though he had his sister for company. I found that he needed to be throughly exhausted before we could leave him. Walking by itself was not enough. I gave him a job! He was very proud to do his ‘special’ job for Mummy. I backpacked him with 2 water bottles partially filled for weight. As his stamina increased, I added more water to the bottles. My husband thought I was ‘crazy’ and I’d never get the dog to go along with my ‘hairbrained’ idea. BUT because he was used to me putting him in a sweater/coat, the transition to the backpack was quite easy.

@pawla said in Training to be alone:

get a second basenji

Love this idea! LOL

@rockonrush I think the easiest solution is to:

  • provide your dog with visual clues that they can use. When you pick up the leash, they get to go with you.... when you don't they stay home.
  • always tell them they need to stay home, and you will be right back, if you are leaving without them,
  • always give them a quick pet and tell them you missed them when you get home (nothing more than that)
  • do not make a big deal about anything

Get them accustomed to the routine with super fast in and out trips.

  • leave to check the mail, then go back inside
  • walk to the car and go back inside

The idea is that your dog will start to accept you coming/going without the anxiety. I noticed that my girl was always right at the door when I opened it and worried that she was upset while I was gone. So I set up a couple in-home cameras and checked it out. I learned that she curls up on my bed after I leave. And she seems to stay there until I put the key in the lock. When she hears that noise, she jumps up and dashes down the hallway to the door, just so she can welcome me home. I can't ask for more than that!

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I would love a second basenji!!!! Though I don't think I can afford one at the moment haha.

There's a lot of different suggestions which is great because one will probably work and several probably won't! The key thing that everyone agrees on is not to make a big deal when returning which I've already been practicing and it has good results each time. I will experiment with each suggestion in blocks and see what seems to work best.

Thanks again, and if anyone has more stories please continue to share!

First, remember you're dealing with a puppy - nothing will happen overnight. It always takes time to form a behavior. DonC's advice about not making a fuss when you return is excellent. So is BrindleBasenji's advice to tell your pup you're leaving, he's staying, and all will be well - you'll be back soon. I can't say for sure that b's understand everything, but I do believe it really helps them when you talk to them. I always tell my b what I'm going to do and what I expect. Maybe it helps ME stay in a calm focused/assertive mind. Whatever, it works. Finally, RGK9Ruler reminds us of an important fact: a tired basenji is a good basenji.

Get your pup tired out. Don't make a big deal. Tell your pup you're leaving. Leave him with a treat that will occupy him for a while. Don't make a big deal about your return.

A second basenji might not be possible, but perhaps you could borrow a friend's dog for awhile (it doesn't have to be a basenji). It has to be the right dog - a calm, well-balanced, well-mannered dog who gets along reliably with your pup and who does not exhibit separation anxiety. If you could have this dog live with you for a couple of weeks or a month, or even off and on, it might do the trick.

I think these creatures are so interesting! They are programmed to manipulate us to get us to do what they want! Be strong and be patient.

Let us know how it's going.

@pawla said in Training to be alone:

can't say for sure that b's understand everything, but I do believe it really helps them when you talk to them. I always tell my b what I'm going to do and what I expect.

So do I. Always have. maybe its just the reassuring sound of Mom's voice but 'I have to go out now, will be back very soon and its raining outside so you would hate it anyway !' seems to help.

@zande said in Training to be alone:

@pawla said in Training to be alone:

can't say for sure that b's understand everything, but I do believe it really helps them when you talk to them. I always tell my b what I'm going to do and what I expect.

So do I. Always have. maybe its just the reassuring sound of Mom's voice but 'I have to go out now, will be back very soon and its raining outside so you would hate it anyway !' seems to help.

Talking to my dogs and horses has always been my way, and they understand more than you think. Dogs especially will learn to pick out the significant words, although they also read your body language extremely well. I would argue horses read body language even better!

One thing I have practised since reading Charles Eisenmann's books is teaching my dog specifically to listen and pick out the pertinent information in my verbal ramblings, e.g. I might mention in passing that "I would kill for a red bone right now", which resulted in Perry bringing me his red bone without a "formal" request to do so....of course, if you reward the behaviour you will find your dog paying even more attention and finding the information encoded in your speech. It's a fun technique. Another example when a dog is underfoot in the kitchen "be somewhere that is not here!" or a variation on the theme. My dogs understood me very well.....and learned the meaning of many phrases that could be spoken casually and result in a response from my dog.

@zande
I totally agree! I talk to my basenji all the time - I swear she understands what I’m saying! (I’ll only need to be concerned when she starts talking back to me! ) 😝

@eeeefarm said in Training to be alone:

I might mention in passing that "I would kill for a red bone right now",

My favorite on this theme is 'you get a bickie at the bench.

Especially since my hip and then knee replacements, I welcome the chance to sit on the (very few) benches in the forest. These are all on the main walkways and because I tend to go off-piste, I have various logs and low branches I have designated 'benches' for the purposes of communication, and to ensure that, from time to time, I can be sure of their whereabouts. They wait at them for their treats.

The dogs have always received a bickie when I sit for a spell. This did not stop Hoover especially, dancing backwards in front of me long before I stopped.

Those two words have been instilled into generations of Basenjis - and now Mku !

NB, these bickies are not extra treats, they are pieces of kibble I have removed from the daily food ration and put into my bum-bag.

Sneaky but saves unnecessary weight gain !

last edited by Zande

@pawla - Just a comment, I would not use the paper towel tube as you have noticed that they will tear/eat/chew cardboard, not really good for them and as you have seen, all cardboard is fair game. And I don't agree with the comment that 5 or 10 minutes is a "long" time to a pup... Dogs have no real concept of time.... in my 30+ years in the breed (Basenjis) if we left for 10 minutes or 8 hours, the response was the same.... excited to see us and if it was 10 minutes the greeting was the same as if for 8 hours

As mentioned above Kong is great, frozen Kong even better, it lasts longer.... I'd recommend leaving her inside the house ie go to a different room, garden, out the front, and ideally try and come back and reward her before she notices, no reward is she makes a fuss or comes looking for you. Camera would definitely help to know how bad the problem actually is.

Sorry to be so ignorant, but exactly what is Kong ?

@zande
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Sally - it’s a rubber chew toy that you can fill with treats - like kibble. You can also fill it with peanut butter and freeze it.

last edited by Kembe

@kembe said in Training to be alone:

You can also fill it with peanut butter and freeze it.

Which is great... until you realize how many calories you've given your dog! I'm sure that's why doodle gained weight when I first got her!!

@elbrant
Luckily Kembe doesn’t like peanut butter - she just likes everything else! Lol

I have "Intelligence" cubes and balls which you put kibble in and the dog has to figure out how, by rolling them around, to make the kibble fall out.

But no 'extra' rations !!!

Only some kibble from the daily allowance goes into them. I am such a mean Mom but my pack stays svelte !😁

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