I am so sorry for your loss. I still cry over my losing very difficult but extremely devoted Basenji, Ella.
Our male b named Benji is 14.5 months and we brought him home a few days prior to Toronto (Canada) going into lockdown for the first time when covid hit last March 2020. Right from the start we identified separation anxiety, and after doing tons of research and listening to the advice of a separation anxiety trainer, it was confirmed that Benji's behaviours was that of SA. We learned that as long as he was with someone (doesn't have to be mom or dad) he would get on OK. My husband and I went into panic mode - reason this is such an issue is that once the world goes back to normal in Toronto (whenever that is), my husband and I work long days - avg 8-9 hours away from home 5 days a week. He's already been sent home from doggy day care from having an "incident" with another intact dog.
Having tried almost everything to see what would work - observing behaviours through desensitization training via puppy cam in the crate while left alone, vs. free roam in our condo while left alone, kong toys, puzzle toys, calming tv/radio, tshirt smellng like us, pheremone diffusers, CBD oil, natural aid called Anxitane - an amino acid that helps to calm, you name it.
What we filtered down to by mid-August (5 months into trial and error) was a combination of some of the above: a thorough desensitization training protocol provided by our trainer (average 5 days per week, short 15-30m sessions), pheremone diffuser - Adaptil, and the natural aid Anxitane two times a day. We have been fully committed since, which makes it almost 7 months. PS - if anyone has ever read Malena DeMartini's Separation Anxiety in Dogs protocol, then you know how granular this training really is! I think there are 5 Phases where you start off really easy and then implement time and distance to eventually be out of view, then eventually go to a full absence outside of the home. Although we made great progress in the beginning building a foundation for us to be able to get to the front door of the condo, we have made very slow progress from an overall standpoint - only being able to leave the condo for less than 1m before he exhibits true signs of anxiety and panic. The idea of the training is you never want to hit their threshold of panic, so its baby steps upon baby steps...
After consulting with our trainer and vet, it was agreed that the next route is medication. I truly believe this will help as we will be supplementing the training with his meds - gotta thing positive here as we are running out of options. We have done Benji's blood work and his results came back excellent. Now the next step is choosing which medication. The vet recommended either Clomipramine (also known as clomicalm) or Fluoxetine (also known as Prozac). Start on one of the medications and if for whatever reason it doesn't work after a month or so, we can wean off and try the other.
Now the question is for any of you folks who have gone through a similar situation - getting your b on medication for separation anxiety - I would be curious to know your experiences with either of those medications? I of course understand that every b is different and dogs can react differently. I am more just curious to hear stories, that's all.
Bonus points for anyone who is familiar with this separation anxiety protocol as I'd love to chat on that as well!
Wish us luck wth the whole SA thing and medication route.
Good luck to you indeed.
Our B. has not been alone for longer than 30 or so minutes the last 12 months, so we do not know how she will react once "regular" work life resumes for us.
There's a good international Facebook group for sub threshold training for separation anxiety - similar to the method you're describing. There are also discussions on there about medication.
Group for Puppies
I have dealt successfully with separation anxiety in two adults. The road to success for me was a distraction when I left (roller treat ball), a relatively dog proof room, no crate, the ability to see out, and room to move around a bit. Mine were worse if they observed me leaving, or indeed if I was outside and they could see me. Once I was gone, any destruction or upset was limited to the first few minutes, then the dog settled down. OTOH, if left crated there was full blown panic that lasted until I returned.
It's too bad doggie daycare doesn't work for you, as that would be a good solution. Alternately, you might want to get a dog walker to come once or twice depending on how long you are gone.
once the world goes back to normal in Toronto (whenever that is), my husband and I work long days - avg 8-9 hours away from home 5 days a week.
Oh dear, I wonder how often we are going to encounter this sort of thing, post lock-down, when people in all countries return to normal working hours away from home ?
You had your boy before lockdown, but demand for puppies of all breeds has rocketed since late March. What a good idea to have a dog, now we are home all day ! without any thought to 'but can we cope with a dog when we are back at work ?'
My enquiries for a Basenji puppy now number 231 since lockdown. Probably just the tip of the iceberg. I see dozens of puppies in the forest where I run my Basenji pack (only 2 now, but still a pack) and I wonder how many of these dogs will cause problems when things get back to normal. Even be abandoned - shelters in my country are already predicting an influx.
I have never left any of my Basenjis alone for more than 4 hours and that has been a very rare occurrence, added to which they have always had more Basenjis to cuddle up with - so have never experienced separation anxiety as such. Pining for diseased buddies, yes. But that is a whole new ball-game.
I doubt, however, that medication should even be considered. Basenjis need human company (or another Basenji). 8 - 9 hours, 5 days a week. On its own. I can't think there is any medicine for that - except getting a second Basenji.
@Zande, I agree and I expect we will be seeing a lot of dogs (not just Basenjis) ending up looking for homes once things get back to "normal". One thing people can do is to start now to accustom their dogs to being left alone. With a bit of foresight, this could have been accomplished by anyone getting a pup during lockdown. Making a habit of going out for a time, even if just to drive around the block and gradually increasing the time away would get the dog ready for what is to come.
@eeeefarm I know that is the accepted way of doing things, but I have to wonder if dogs in fact have any sense of time ? Ten minutes, 30 ? Main thing is they have the confidence to know you will come back.
I'm arguing against myself here ! I would never leave a dog longer than 4 hours absolute maximum, even if they were with a buddy.
When I was in my teens I used to babysit for people when their kids came home from school but the parents didn't get home till around 6:00. I wonder if teens still do that? Maybe you could get someone to come to your home after school and stay till you get home. Just a thought! Good luck.
Would a dog sitter be an option? I am in Toronto area and there are plenty of people who provide dog sitting services at their homes. Please consider that before medicating your dog.
@ellenw - LOL as a latch key kid... I was the same....
Interesting research on music as a calming effect? https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938416306977
Our Basenji Paladin could not be left alone, we tried everything, one thing sort of worked rescue remedy and touch tell massage. We had many pet sitters. Our new Basenji is so carefree and problem free it's a miracle. Miles is Basenji # 5 so maybe we just learned from all the others....
Also, a list of reads and research including the use of Bach Flower Remedies,
Articles on Don’s Blog
Alone Training – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/01/dog-training-alone-training/
Preventing separation anxiety – Teaching your dog to cope with being alone – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/14/dog-training-preventing-separation-anxiety-teaching-your-dog-to-cope-with-being-alone/
ADAPTIL/DAP COMFORTZONE – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/14/canine-behavior-adaptild-a-p-comfortzone/
Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stress – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/
Pet Behavior and Wellness – Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/28/pet-behavior-and-wellness-pet-behavior-as-an-essential-component-to-holistic-wellness/
Your Pet’s Behavioral Health Is As Important As Their Physical Well-Being: The New AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/08/01/pet-health-and-wellness-your-pets-behavioral-health-is-as-important-as-their-physical-well-being/
Introduction to Canine Communication – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/05/dog-training-introduction-to-canine-communication/
An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedies – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/22/bach-flower-remedies-an-overview-of-the-bach-flower-remedies/
Good Luck, you will get through this!
My apologies in advance for being so blunt. This is only my opinion which you are welcome to take or leave.
An elderly dog might do okay with being left alone for 8-9 hours/5 days a week, but it will be sheer torture for a young, active basenji to be left alone (whether he/she has separation anxiety or not). Drugging him is a sad choice.
If you really love him, find someone to keep him during the day, find a daycare where he fits in or rehome him.
@Pawla, you are absolutely right and at the risk of being rude, I don't understand how anyone can expect any dog, let alone a pup, to handle being alone for that many hours on a daily basis. It can work if you have multiple dogs so that there is company, but even then is far from ideal. As I suggested, having someone come and take the dog out a couple of times during the day is one possible solution, but no to leaving a dog alone for that long every day. Maybe an old "couch potato", but even then, it's an unreasonable amount of time without a bathroom break, apart from anything else. And drugging a pup? Really? A vet approves of this?
Time for rethinking priorities and perhaps consider rehoming the dog with someone who has time for him.
@eeeefarm - I will disagree to a point... Now granted I have a different set up and my first 2 Basenjis were home alone for 8 hours a day because we both worked. Yes, they had each other but also they had a very large doggy room with access to the yard with their doggy door. We have 12' privacy fences and gate are padlocked from the inside. Our home is set back from the street and there is no need for anyone to try and enter the yard. They had and (still have) a large window that they keep watch on the street and all that goes on.... there was never an issue with them or the litters we raised. We always had at least 2 but up to 6 at times. In fact on the days that I was home more than just the regular weekends for holidays, by the third day they would look at me like "hey are you not going to work?... we need our beauty sleep! Once our office moved close to the house, I would come home at lunch time... or if we had litters on the ground. Also since we did not have children, when home from work all the time was spent with the pups and they were always with us all evening and totally part of the family including when we had litters..if you have children then that is a totally different situation. All of our Basenjis were/are well socialized, Ch show and coursing dogs and very well adjusted. So it can work depending on your home and how you can set it up. Now that I am not working, they spend the majority of the day in their doggy room even though they have access to where ever we are. But I will agree that a puppy in a crate all day is a bit much especially if at night you expect them to sleep in a crate... I always recommend that if you have to crate during the day then they must be with you at night, including sleeping in bed or in a doggy bed but in the room where you sleep. And if you do work, then you need to have a pet sitter to visit with the pup/dog every 4 hours. Take for a walk, etc...
@tanza, I hear what you are saying but it's entirely different to leave a dog that has company and access to outside and a large space inside, which is an entirely different situation than what @yaleezaforeva is suggesting. The fact that they are considering medication and are apparently having difficulties with even short duration separation makes me think that at least with this individual young dog things will have to change a great deal for it to work out. It does make me wonder about what has led to the current situation, and also whether there has been any consultation with the pup's breeder regarding any genetic predisposition or early weaning that may be contributing factors.
I would agree that with the right circumstances you can probably leave multiple dogs for relatively long periods of time (isn't that what doggie daycare essentially does?), and I have left 2 Basenjis and a Border Collie in a secure dog run back in the day while we were gone several hours, but I don't believe I have ever left a dog for 8 hours straight without any human contact. For a solo pup, no way!
@eeeefarm - I don't disagree with you and in many cases agree, just pointing out that if you set up your home and can set up your home, it can work.
@tanza: you said it all in your first sentence "I have a different set up". Your situation is FAR from what yaleezaforeva described.
No 18 mo old basenji (with or without separation anxiety) should be left alone for 8 to 9 hours alone for 5 days a week. Period. It is cruel and unusual punishment.
The owner should find a way for Benjie not to be alone so many hours or rehome him and get a stuffed animal.
I truly don't mean to offend anyone, but I care about the basenji. I promise not to say another word on this discussion.
@pawla - Not a disagree, just saying that it can work if you can set up your home to work with the pup....
@tanza it can work if you can set up your home to work with the pup...
But if you can't ? (or find it easier not to)