Advice for Potty Training a Young Basenji in the Winter

  • Hi everyone,

    I introduced little Juno on the Forum this past weekend :). He's 9 weeks old and very new to our home, as he just arrived on Friday! He's settling in exceptionally well and we're already on our way to have a good daily schedule for him with plenty of naps, play time, snuggles (when he wants them) and training time. He's such a sweetheart and he's already amusing us with his characteristic Basenji traits!

    We're also working on his potty training and would love some advice from other Basenji owners who have raised theirs from the time they were young. Any special tips or treats that have encouraged your Basenji puppies to do their business outdoors?

    Just for further context, Juno is reliably peeing outdoors already (we've been giving him lots of praise and treats!) but he just hasn't pooed outdoors yet. I expect his reluctance is a combination of hating the cold, wet weather in London and generally settling into his surroundings after a big move/separation from his mom and brothers & sisters. We do have a little jacket for him that makes him more comfortable, and we're trying to spend a good amount of time with him in our garden everyday to let him get comfortable with his home domain. We understand that he's really young to be fully potty trained and absolutely expect it to take a lot more time to get it right, but as new Basenji owners we just want to ensure we're laying the right foundation for him to get comfortable pooing outdoors :).

    Really appreciate any advice, and thanks so much in advance!

  • So far, all of my Basenjis have hated the rain. My first one always made a mad dash for the front door. When it was raining I'd swing it wide and and stand aside. He'd look at me like OMG, Thank You! Until he saw how hard it was raining. Then he'd retreat back into the house.

    I don't have a lot to add to your question, but I will add this... my breeder always teaches her pups to use a dog box while in the house. Think cat box. She steers them there when she sees they need to go. She told me they learn pretty quickly and will begin using it on their own fairly fast. Their aim isn't always perfect though, so you have to keep an eye on them and put them in the box when they wonder there. She doesn't use cat litter. Instead she uses sopresh, which is a recycled paper pellet product. I didn't see it on amazon uk, but you might search for paper pellet litter. See if something pops up and strikes your fancy.

    0_1611692289299_Dogboxpellets (Medium).jpg

  • You need to go out with them.....

  • I have a Basenji, he is one year old and he is my first. All my previous dogs were herding breeds. In my experience the Basenji was toilet trained by far the quickest, and I believe it was down to his own dislike of uncleanness rather than my training. I too live in a wet climate and at first he did poo a lot in the shed, which wasn't ideal either, but he very soon preferred to do it away from the home altogether (on walks) or in the garden. I also would have moved his food bowl around the home because I don't think they like to toilet where they also eat.

    I do think it's probably still very early days for you, but it sounds like you're on the right track. I have faith your little B will be potty trained in reasonable time!

  • I live on the 5th floor and I used a Pet Loo from Amazon on my balcony until Trigger had all of his shots. I would set my alarm and get up a couple times a night and take him out on the balcony even in the rain and cold. At age 2 he is better about going out in the rain, does his business and wants to head back to the building.

  • When he goes inside, save it and put it outside where you want him to go. Let him discover it, don't force him to smell it. Maybe use a happy voice when he smells it - he'll know it's his. Lots of happy voice

  • Not sure how well this would apply for a 9 week old pup, but.... start taking him for a walk. Ok, at his age that might mean from the door to the street and back to the door. He will probably follow along behind you without a leash. Keep your eye on him and give him lots of praise when he squats or drops. It shouldn't take long before he gets the idea.

    Understand that accidents will continue to happen until somewhere in the 4-6 month range. Just like human babies... the little ones have to grow up a bit before they can really control themselves.

  • I'd try following @tanza suggestion and go out with him when you think a poop is in order. Usually this is right after one of the meals. You may need to stay out for a while and, if possible, walking is better than standing. When he poops make a fuss and give him a treat.

    Agree with @elbrant that nine weeks is a little young for this. At this age they are just beginning to be sufficiently self aware, so just getting through the next few weeks before starting training in earnest would probably work best.

    Once they're older you may need to be patient to teach them to do their business quickly when that is necessary. Can be something of a test of wills. You take them out and wait until they pee or poop, which can take a while because they can find so many things to do. This can't be rushed and can be trying, but once they figure out that the fastest way to get back inside for a treat is do do the deed, your reward is years of fast performance.

    Some dogs are more easily trained than others. Some will just get into: "It's wet. Yuck. I don't want to do anything" mode and just be butt heads. Others will think: "Yuck. It's wet. What's the fastest way out of this?". Basically this is the response you want.

  • Our now 8 month old was doing well in the summer and then started to refuse to go out once it became damp outside.

    We found that using a treat to get her out of the door and then walking around our road for 5 mins was more effective and quicker than standing in the garden with her crying to get back in. At one point I was walking her every hour and as she matured progressed to 2 and now 3 hourly.

    She also now goes in the garden in the rain if I pay her first by throwing a piece of chicken outside and closing the door. We always pay her to go out before we go to bed so she lasts through the night and we get more sleep!!

    I think over time if they keep getting lots of practice at going outside it becomes more and more unfamiliar going inside. We have turned a corner very recently as she now scratches at the back door if she needs to go even if it's raining.

    Good luck!

  • Brother Kito is totally clean - has been for several days now.

    Immediately after food, play time or waking up, OUT, and Momma goes with him. He has developed 'places' - he pees in the herb garden and poops among the fuchsias. His choice.

    When he has done, he races to the door, is picked up and cuddled and wrapped in his nice blue blanket, the one he brought with him.

    A couple of days ago he started sitting by the back door, looking up at the handle as if asking it Why won't you open for me, you do for Mom ? So I open it and he races out. I still go with him but rain doesn't faze him.

    At night, he and Mku both share my bed. Perhaps I should say they allow me to sleep along the side of their chosen places. Kito pulls my hair, wriggles, or otherwise indicates he needs to go out.

    Wrapped in blue blanket, we go down and the moment the back door is opened he starts to squirm. I go out with him, and its the same as in daylight. The house has safety lights which come on as you pass them so he can see. And I can follow him around the garden at need.

    He is well aware of what is expected of him when he is put out onto the herb garden. That usually comes before the step up to the fuchsias. If he only needs to pee, he heads straight back to the door.

    Back into the blue blanket, LOTS of praise and back to bed. He can't go through the night yet, I would not expect it of him but he is pretty regular. We need to go out about 3 o'clock and then he is OK until 6.30.

    He has access to clean drinking water 24 hours a day before anyone asks !

    I have used this method now for .. . 39 years with lots and lots of Basenji puppies. They are very easy to train.

  • @elbrant said in Advice for Potty Training a Young Basenji in the Winter:

    Not sure how well this would apply for a 9 week old pup, but.... start taking him for a walk

    You shouldn't take pups out for walks in public places until two weeks after they have had their final jab. Garden is OK and you can certainly put them on a lead and walk them around at home, but NOT away from the property unless in a sling. They love going out in one, seeing all kinds of strange creatures and people, but not on the ground until fully protected.

    They get kind of heavy in the sling but it is worth it. The pup gets socialised and any other dog is not penalised by not going out for walks or hunts.

  • Thank you so much for all the advice! It's good to hear about other experiences and also that it's still early days for this.

    To update, he is already making progress - we're spending about 2 hours with him in our garden everyday in 20-30 minute increments when we sense he has to go, and also to continue getting him comfortable with being outside. We walk around with him and let him sniff and explore as he wants to, and have been giving him lots of praise and nice treats when he pees outside (he hasn't peed in the house in 3 days now so he's doing so well on that front!) or hunches as though he needs to poo.

    We've followed @RugosaB's advice and planted some of his poo around for him to discover at his leisure as well so he hopefully starts to build up an association with doing his business there :). While he still hasn't pooed outside yet despite all the time we're spending outside when it's clear he needs to go, he has stopped going in the area of the house we spend most of our time in and is instead going on in the long hallway that leads to our front door so feels like he's getting it slowly but surely. We've learned his body language and can now identify when he needs to go very easily, so it's just about incentivising him to go where we'd like him to! We'll keep working with him and will update as he progresses :).

  • @bjenkins33 said in Advice for Potty Training a Young Basenji in the Winter:

    While he still hasn't pooed outside yet despite all the time we're spending outside when it's clear he needs to go,

    Some Basenjis are very discreet ! Mku hates to be watched. In the woods, he disappears up into a thicket of brambles as soon as he gets out of the car and in the garden here he disappears into the shrubbery.

    Kito spends a few minutes racing to and fro and finding exactly the right place. But he has been doing it outside, and in the rain, since a couple of days after we got him. You'll get there. I'm surprised its taking this long.

    Let yours go and find his own space. It biodegrades far quicker than does a poo-bag !

  • I agree with Sally, both my boys were shy poopers, they kinda hide in weeds or plants and don't want me to watch, but in poor weather (I'm in Ohio so there is a lot of that) I do need to be outside with my girl and boy to get them to go-its kinda like, "if I have to be in this you do too!" It was much easier to train my boy as a pup because I had my girl who was two and knew what to do. You definitely want to make sure he gets what to do and eventually that inside is not an option. My girl has been a bit harder about accidents, as I got her as a two-year old and she spent a lot of time in a crate and she has a sensitive stomach-sometimes she can't help it. If the weather is bad, she won't go and then will sneak somewhere in the house to go later. For her, especially, because I know her routine and usually you can tell if they have to go, she has to stay out till she goes. I usually get her to go pretty quick now, she knows I'll make her but sometimes we have to wait it out. They are super smart, so beware they are not playing you. My boy will even fake-it sometimes in bad weather. Fortunately he is not very good at it so I can tell...he looks at me like "are you buying this?"

    Also a routine helps, both of mine are pretty predictable and as long as you follow the basenji rules (out before leaving, out after dinner) we have very few problems. Keep at it you'll get there. My boy is rock solid now, he really only took about a month to get there, mostly I think because my girl totally helped train him!

  • I just thought about this too- if you see him starting to poo try to get him outside asap, you want to make sure he knows that its supposed to happen outside. I had to rush my little man out a few times mid-poo and we didn't get far out but he got the idea, and then praise the heck out of him!

    Also, (not sure if this will help-I'll be curious to see what others say) but my two both go way easier when they are excited- so maybe some running around and playing while your outside might help the process!

  • @Zande and @aprilk I've been wondering if he's just really shy and doesn't want us to see him poo, so now that you both mention it I suspect that's exactly what's going on for him! We're going to spend some extra time with him outside tomorrow (just so long it's not pouring here) now that we've made it to the weekend and let him explore as long as he likes without watching him too closely. Even though we have a securely-fenced in garden we've been super cautious about him being loose in our garden while we're still living in London, so perhaps we're being helicopter parents and he's thinking 'mom, dad', please let me find a place to do my private business without hovering'! 😂

    @aprilk When you rushed your little guy outside the first time was he able to finish going that time around? We've tried once with Juno but it made him so anxious that he literally sucked it back up and held it for another few hours! It was so soon after he joined us, though, so he may have responded that way because he was still acclimating. That said, it sounds like if we do it a couple more times with lots of treats and praise he'll get the idea :).

  • @bjenkins33 - It helps to tell him to "go potty" while not staring at him... if you see him start to go, tell him "good puppy, go potty"... especially after he eats his meal.... try to catch him in the act in your hall way, pick him up and put him out with "go Potty"... they get the hint.. and of course treat him and praise him when he goes. Even if his has gone, he will get the message that pooing outside is what he needs to do. And if he sucks it back up, leave him out... can you watch him from inside?

  • When we adopted Heather, she was 2-3month old, didn’t get potty training. She pooped 6-8 times every day! We put dogs pad close to the sofa, which she sleeps on. Every night before we go upstairs to sleep, my husband and I would point to the pad and repeated the same words to let her to poop or pee on the pad. Of course she always disappointed us with pooping and peeing outside of the pad for a long time. If she accidentally pooped on the pad, we just gave her some treats and praise her . Eventually she can learn how to pee and poop on the pad at night. When she grows up, she always hold herself without pooping or peeing whole night and wait until morning walking . I don’t know other dogs, but my dog still poops 5 or 6 times a day even she is 1 and half years old now.

  • @aprilk said in Advice for Potty Training a Young Basenji in the Winter:

    he really only took about a month to get there, mostly I think because my girl totally helped train him!

    I hadn't thought of that angle, but yes, Mku had Hoover to help train him (took all of 4 days, during which time he only pooped indoors once or twice) and now Kito is being trained by Mku.

    When Mku goes out - he takes Kito with him. Although, once outside, he tries to shake off his wee follower so he can empty in private !

    I just dread the puppy also choosing to use the shrubbery as his spot - it is along and down a bank and under it, about twice the length of the old tennis court, and I can't manage to get into the depths if he should get lost !

    (But re-call training has started with 'Kito, THIS way !' and he does come back to Mom !)

  • @heather-g-y - What are you feeding her? That is a lot of pooping!

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