Have you ever had a dog this vocal?
Oh yes! My boy Sunny would vocalize on cue, and even if you picked him up he would continue until he was done. I have video somewhere of him howling while being held upside down.
Curious if anyone on here has a basenji 6 months or older who is fine being left alone for 2-5 hours a day?
I’ve been reading the forum and it seems being left alone is an issue for most basenjis, no matter the amount of time or age. Or, that most owners need to go to great lengths to make it comfortable with you leaving (I.e. crate training, treats, music, etc).
This all seems quite high maintenance. Is this the experience for most on this forum? It’s interesting because I read multiple articles that say basenjis are a good, independent breed who can be home alone for periods of time as long as they get their exercise. But after reading the forum, I’m not so sure.
Curious to hear people’s’ experiences?
@rubybasenji - When I was working they were home 8+ hours a day. They slept/sleep 99% of the time, but they did/do have access to the backyard and a doggy door and a doggy room, not the run of the house. Of course that is except when they are chasing Squirrels in the yard. I didn't need to crate them (they are crate trained) because of having a room they could be in. Even when we only had one (the other elders had passed) she did fine and she had never been alone as a single since she was born here and raised with the others. She did howl every now and again....
it seems being left alone is an issue for most basenjis
I think this is depends on the owner. I can leave my girl alone for 5 hours, although I don't "normally" need to. I come and go as many times as I need to on any given day. I taught her to rely on visual cues to know what she should expect. She is coming with me if I touch the leash, pick it up, drop it on the floor, or move it in any way. She is staying home if I tell her, "I will be right back", or "stay here".
She has full reign of our home, access to every room at all times, but doesn't create any problems. I used to worry about her, so I set up motion cameras to figure out what was going on while I was gone. Nothing. Nothing at all. She routinely goes into
my our bedroom, jumps onto the bed and sleeps. When she hears the key slide into the lock, she does a speed dash down the hallway to the entrance. She always greets me with enthusiasm.
It wasn't always like that. When I first brought her home and left her.... she was, well, "unsure" about the rules. And she showed me she was the boss and would not have any of this leaving without her. I got used to decorator pillows with missing corners, but never punished her for her design decisions. Pillows can be replaced. My girl cannot. But I did figure out what she was trying to tell me. So it became a training focus.
I would scratch her head, tell her, "be right back", and leave. Sometimes I would walk to the mailbox and come back. Sometimes I would go to the corner and back. Sometimes I would come and leave about 10 times in an hour. I wasn't trying to reassure her that I would only be gone a minute. I was trying to let her know that I would always come back. And it works. She is fine if I need to leave her alone. Even on the days where I'm going to 3 different grocers to pick up all the things I think I need.
She doesn't do as well if my son is home and I leave. He tells me that she whines, "Mom left!" I taught him to just talk to her and that seems to soothe her. But she always prefers to go with me!
As a general rule it isn't good to leave any dog alone all day long, but a couple of hours shouldn't be a problem once they are used to the routine of someone leaving. It's far easier with multiple dogs since they are company for each other. Of five Basenjis I had two with separation anxiety that we had to work through. Both were eventually fine with short absences, generally not more than 3 - 4 hours and usually only a couple of hours. My others were good as long as the time didn't stretch to a point where it was uncomfortable for them, as I never had a dog door. I didn't crate much at all, only at the very beginning with each dog, and with the separation anxiety dogs crating made them much worse so I had to dispense with it quickly. As a breed I think Basenjis are less tolerant of being left alone than most.
No dog likes to be left along for long periods, but I don't see an issue with 2-5 hours. They do, after all, need their beauty rest. The downside of course is that after all that rest they are going to want to PARTY! And of course that party needs to start off with a yummy treat.
Maximum I ever leave my pack is 4 hours and that is very rare indeed. But having said that, I have only had just one Basenji for 2 periods of about 5 months. Anything from 2 to 8 the rest of the time.
When Keepurr died, Hoover was alone until Mku arrived, and after her passing Mku was alone until Kito came to rejuvenate him.
I couldn't leave Mku alone for five minutes or his howls could be heard right through the village. Two days after baby Kito settled in, I left the pair of them snuggled up by the Aga,, and they were still there when I came back an hour later.
I hadn't meant to be away so long, but things happen. Anyway it was a Wednesday, the day my gardener comes. He listened out for them and could have let them out at need.
But there was no need. Having a buddy again made all the difference to Mku. Now, of course, thanks to lockdown I can't go anywhere but I know I could leave them alone, together.
If in doubt, get a second, third, or fourth Basenji. A pack is good company.
Once my basenjis demonstrated that they no longer tolerated being crated I expanded their area by confining them to the kitchen/breakfast room using baby gates. It worked beautifully and still does. I rarely need to be gone more than a couple hours anymore, but I always walk the pups before I need to leave.
@elbrant thank you so much your response is so helpful!
I love framing the crazy as “design decisions”. Fantastic reframe and way to adjust expectations.
Curious if, when your girl was a puppy, did you initially crate her? How did you get her to appreciate your verbal cues? Sounds a bit like the faconian method leaving and always coming back. How long would you say it took for her to get comfortable with that?
Thank you for your wise and encouraging words!
@rubybasenji I don't "do" crates. Primarily because it just wasn't something that was normal for dog owners to do (when I was a young adult). Of course, back then we let the dogs out the back door to roam at their leisure. They always came back and it was never a big deal. We didn't carry plastic baggies to clean up after them. And we didn't see any reason to fence the back yard. The only time you needed a crate was for the airlines if you were flying somewhere. And there was really only one kind that you could buy .Life was just different "back then".
I missed out on doodle's puppy-hood. I brought her home at 18 months (almost 3 years ago). She was already trained (housebroken, familiar with a leash, etc.). I really only had to accept that she needed to adjust to her new home and family. It took a couple months, but I started to realize that she was trying very hard to tell me what she needed (or wanted). I just had to figure out what she was saying.
She will stare at the window if it's sunny out and the shades are down. She's telling me to raise them so she can enjoy the warmth of the sunlight.
She will sit by the door if I am getting ready to leave. She's telling me she wants to go with me. And,
She will walk back and forth between my office and bedroom to tell me it's time to go to sleep.
I've opened my home to numerous dogs. Mutts, pure bred, rescues, adoptions, foundlings. They were all great dogs, but doodle is the first dog I've had that "thinks". I swear she does math calculations in her head when she has to jump off the curb, over the puddle, and land on the car seat! She figures things out, she really does. So I can't take any credit for training her... she figured out how to tell me what she needs. She trained me.
As for the visual cues, it's just something I tried that worked. It took an afternoon and then she was bored with the whole thing. Of course, every day and every time I leave = reinforcement of the lesson. And I think that reading "Inside a Dog", by Alexandra Horowitz, helped me look at her differently.
My family fell in love with the basenji as soon as we saw it, but we've been reading a lot about potential "massive destruction" when they are left alone. It definitely intimidated us because we don't want a dog that as soon as we turn our back something gets destroyed. We'd really appreciate talking to someone who owns or owned a basenji, and hear what they have to say in terms of their experience or any training methods that helped.
Has anyone experienced any difficulties leaving their dog unattended?
I never had a issue leaving my basenji alone in the house uncrated. She was never destructive. I worked up the time increments over a period of time. I would never leave her more than 4-5 hours and she also has access to a doggie door. Currently I will not leave her alone for more than an hour but that is due to her advanced age.
@Kembe thank you so much!
Have you ever left your dog at a friend's house when going on vacation for example? If so, how did your basenji manage?
Yes - for extended vacations, I would leave her with one of my brothers. Luckily both were previous basenji owners and she did fine. They said she did seem sad but they would keep her on her daily walking routine and this was a better alternative than a kennel. As long as you have a friend that becomes familiar with your dog’s routine and can understand how a basenji “thinks” (because they are highly intelligent) it shouldn’t be an issue to have someone dog sit.
As for basenjis being destructive- I think it’s important to establish a routine & keep them well exercised and active to eliminate this potential issue.
A piece of advice on the crate:
Important to crate train your dog. My basenji was crate-trained but I think I de-crate trained her. She had free run of the house and did not have to use a crate. I now wish I had maintained the use of her crate in the house because she now has “doggie dementia” and there are now times that the crate would keep her safe. (Hind sight is 20/20 - learn from my mistake).
@Kembe thanks for the advice! We do plan to crate train our dog.
@mia_at20, any dog left alone in a house has the potential to be destructive. It isn't just a Basenji thing. That said, yes, it can be an issue and Basenjis, because they are curious, will get into things that other dogs might leave alone. Yes, even when you are home! Crate training can be useful, or a "dog proof" room, preferably with windows so the dog can look out. Some Basenjis may have confinement anxiety which makes use of a crate difficult, but usually if you train them as pups and don't use a crate abusively (long hours locked up is abuse, IMO) they will learn to accept it. Every dog is different, partially genetics and partially environment. You do the best you can with the dog you get. With luck and care, you won't have a problem, but there are no guarantees with any dog!
As I have said before, I work on the principle that I am bigger than they are and it is MY house. Make a tremendous song and dance about unimportant misdeamours and pretend to ignore the serious infringements.
Then when the pack wants to punish me they do something which they know will get them the most attention - screaming and tears from me.
But a bored Basenji will tend to destruction if there is nothing else to do. It needs plenty to hold its interest. Toys, bones, a companion.