Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet

  • Hi everyone

    I'm looking to get a dog and will be a first time owner. I live in a medium sized apartment and mostly work from home and have narrowed down the breeds of dogs that I admire and will suit my lifestyle: Basenji or Whippet.

    One thing that concerns me is that both these breeds are prone to separation anxiety, at least that's what I read. There will be times when I would have to leave the dog at home for perhaps 8 hours.

    I'm interested to hear from members here about their experiences with separation anxiety in Basenjis and better yet if you had experiences with whippets as well and how they deal with separation anxiety compared to basenjis.

  • Hi

    TLDR: First time owner, 5 old month B with what seems to be separation/confined spaces anxiety, is doing better with lots of training and trial & error.

    First time owner here as well. We've had our boy for close to 6 months now and it's been a hell of a ride. First month is pretty much the hardest, after which it gets easier. But for that to happen, training is mandatory with each and everything you do with him, including alone time (well, obviously, as others have stated to me here, he is a puppy, he needs to feels safe, be with you etc, so by training I don't necesarily mean going hard on him)
    We are in a similar situation, where me and my fiancee WFH, and leaving him alone has been quite a process so far. My first advice would be to start as early as possible, as I believe we got to it a bit too late (at around 4 months we actually started really working on leaving him alone). It's probably never too late and fine while he's a puppy, but earlier might be easier.

    Second, would be crate training right from the start and stick to it. Even so, he might hate confined spaces, in which case leaving him alone in the crate for hours will probably cause more harm. Ours is fine with it (sleeps in it sometimes, by his will, at night by ours; goes in by command, stays there as long as I want him to, even if we're not in the room) but I believe he hates confined spaces, which is why we started leaving him alone in the house (he has access to the main room, hall and kitchen) and with that he has progressed way faster.

    3rd and probably most important, things to have him occupied. We've got at least 1 frozen kong ready at all times, to be prepared for any sudden leavings. But that' the main thing that keeps ours busy. A kong stuffed with moist kibbles and topped with something that he goes crazy about (chicken pate, soft cheese or, sometimes, peanutbutter). A size M kong lasts him for about 45 minutes, until he gives up (last kibbles are hard to get, he goes to it later when they melt). A fresh bully stick/beef tendon, we also hide 2 cups greased with greek yogurt and topped with small bits of freeze dried meat (these usually keep him busy for at least 10 minutes, because they slide on the floor tiles or they flip).

    Needless to say that the last point has him focused for about 1h, which on itself is exhausting. Now, if you combine that with a 30-45 minutes walk right before, you got yourself a rather chill B. Our routine consists of a morning/mid day ~45-60min free walk through the forest and ~1h of play time with other dogs later in the day (having him run with a husky has been the most welcoming thing.. he gets home and drops). And 2-3 training oriented sessions per day, of course.

    This has been my experience so far. We got from a point where he'd panic the moment he'd hear the keys, to a point where he goes into his crate when hearing them :)). He just loves his "alone time" treats now. I'm not confortable on leaving him without following all these steps (like an emergency leave), but fortunately we still have the time to work with him around our routine, which hopefully prepares him for future unplanned alone time.

    I didn't expect it to be this hard, honestly, as none of my friends or family members that have dogs had similar issues, but if you have the time to work with it, it's worth it. I wouldn't trade my B for any other breed.

  • @organicshadows said in Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet:

    There will be times when I would have to leave the dog at home for perhaps 8 hours.

    Eight hours is too long for any dog, IMO. Four is about the max, unless you have a secure fenced yard and hopefully company for the dog. Otherwise, I think you need a dog walker to come and take the dog out midway through your absence. I've had five Basenjis over the years. None were routinely crated once they had learned the rules of the house, but I did keep some rooms off limits.

    Two of my Basenjis (that I adopted as adults) had separation anxiety, complicated with an intense dislike of crates. The solution was to work on their reliability uncrated, and to insure they were somewhere they could see outside. Blocking off some rooms or confining to a specific room can be helpful. My last boy graduated from extreme anxiety to being totally reliable in the house as long as I gave him a distraction on leaving (roller ball with kibble in it) and didn't stay away for more than two or three hours.

  • @eeeefarm Agree entirely. No longer than 4 hours should ANY pup or dog be left on its own. A bored Basenji is a destructive Basenji. You don't leave children alone all day - so don't do it to dogs !

  • @lustopher said in Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet:

    I'm not confortable on leaving him without following all these steps (like an emergency leave)

    I bet you and your B would be fine! You seem to have mastered the routine. My routine is rather similar, exercise (if at all possible) comes before leaving the pup.

    @organicshadows said in Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet:

    Basenji or Whippet.

    I'm not guessing anyone here will vote "Whippet", but separation anxiety will depend on the amount of exercise you provide, teaching (repetition), and your own anxiety level(s). Dogs tend to feed off the energy of their owners. Your dog will sense it if you are fretting over leaving them alone and mimic your emotional turmoil. And that rings true for any breed.

  • @organicshadows - Either are great hounds, Whippets bark.. Basenjis scream... I would agree that 8 hours as a puppy is not a good thing, having a dog walker or doggy day care on the days that you might be gone for 8 hours... I didn't have the issue because I have house with a yard (and 12ft solid fences) so they could go outside and since the yard was secure, I didn't have to worry. And I did have more than one... until my elders past and the only one was left alone, but she was OK other then a howl or two...during the day. They love to look out the door, windows so do not put down your blinds... or they will find a way to open them... period. And I do not believe that either breed have inbred separation anxiety... mostly, in my opinion that comes for the owner.... I have worked my entire life with our Basenjis, even raising litters...

  • @tanza said in Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet:

    They love to look out the door, windows so do not put down your blinds... or they will find a way to open them... period.

    I found that out the hard way with Perry. He took exception to me lowering the blinds in the sunroom (to keep it from getting too hot), and I learned to leave them up far enough for him to see out.

    Individual dogs may react quite differently to being left alone. Out of five Basenjis, I had two that exhibited separation anxiety, my others were fine with my absence, as long as it wasn't too long. Typically separation anxiety dogs will react as soon as you leave. "Normal" dogs may react to being left for too long, perhaps because they want to relieve themselves and can't. When I was away for a week farm sitting for a friend, Lady was fine the first two days my husband was at work. The third day she had had enough and peed on the floor. After that he came home at noon to let her out and there were no more "accidents". Bitches will let you know when you cross a line!

  • @organicshadows Of the three Basenjis I've had, one (Jengo) never had any anxiety at all ever. We could leave him alone for good periods of time with no destruction. On second thought he did destroy two window binds, so yeah... make sure you keep them raised.

    My other two do get separation anxiety IF they are separated. When they are together... none. Logan bonded to me quickly when I first got him, which was great, but he got upset anytime I left the house. Once we got Sparkle, he was fine. And is so now. She only gets upset if he leaves the house without her. They seem to require a pack to be happy. Both grew up with several other dogs and have only ever known pack life. Two can be challenging at times, but IMO the pros outweigh the cons.

    If you can only accommodate one, I would look closely (observe firsthand if you can) at the temperaments of both the momma and pappa. I'd also try to get a good understanding about how the puppies are going to be raised. My preference would be in a home with a ton of human interaction. I like confident dogs. They seem to have fewer behavioral issues.

    However, no matter how careful you are about a selection, things can change once you get the puppy home. You never know exactly how a puppy will react until it does. That's when the work begins. Depending on the puppy... the first year and half can be demanding. Just know that going in. If you get an easy puppy... SCORE!

    8 hours alone in a day for a puppy is excessive. If that's a career requirement, which I understand, you might consider an older dog that may be a bit more settled down. You can sometimes find them through BRAT and from breeders. Sometimes breeders keep a puppy or two to grow out and show. Sometimes the dog may not like showing and breeders look for homes.

    I've read stories here about people who've lived in apartments in large cities (e.g., San Francisco) and were quite successful for the life on the dog. So a Basenji can work in an apartment. The common success factor seemed to be frequent walks outside to burn off the excess energy many Basenjis seem to have.

    Hope that helps...

  • @jengosmonkey said in Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet:

    They seem to require a pack to be happy.

    Yes, this. The two I had difficulties with were both accustomed to having other dogs in the household. Perry, in particular, was crate trained when I got him, but being in a crate with other dogs also in crates present is one thing. Being left in one alone is quite another. We found that out very quickly! The solution for him was to abandon crating and work towards trusting him in the house alone, which after a few hiccups worked out to everyone's satisfaction.

    My previous boy, Sunny, had major crate anxiety even with another dog in the room, but he could be destructive if not confined. Leaving him in a crate, even with enticements like meaty bones, did not work. Interestingly his half sister (in another home) had similar problems with crates and would injure herself trying to get free, so maybe a genetic component? Sunny and I came to an accommodation which I have mentioned before. He would rip up unimportant papers, and I would verbally chastise him so he was content that his actions had annoyed me, and he left important things alone. I think his problem was more crate related than true separation anxiety.

  • Oh no, 8hours is way to long!

    You won’t have a house to come back to if you leave a basenji in their for 8 hours.

    All breeds can have separation anxiety.

    I personally wouldn’t Buy a basenji if I knew I was going to be out most the day 8hours plus. It’s way to long for any dog and isn’t the life they deserve.

  • @micah - Depends on your home situation... if you have yard that they can access when you are not home, windows they can look out of?.... and if gone that long in an apartment home, a dog walker or put them in day care or both. Other than TP, I have never had an issue... but I did have more than one until our elders past and the next elder was alone, but was raised with her Mom and the rest in the pack... She was fine with a few howls during the day, but again she had access to the back yard...

  • Thank you everyone for your sharing your detailed experiences, seems like a great community here.

    I do work from home now and it seems like this is the norm for the medium term, when things go back to 'normal' I think I am expected to come into the office once or twice per week. So my plan is to work towards building the confidence in the puppy as he/she grows so I can trust it in my home roaming free.

    I would definitely not crate the puppy if I eventually have to leave it for 8 hours or so but seal off certain areas of my home like the living room where I won't want it to destroy my couch or have access to too many electrical outlets. The access it will have would possibly be my bedroom or the other spare bedroom I have, the dining area and the balcony (which has a 1.5 meter high fence).

  • @organicshadows Our female recently came into heat and we had to keep her separated from our male. I was traveling and my wife was saddled with the chore. And chore is a gross understatement. She had to go in to work for a few hours during my time away, so she put Sparkle, our female in the Master Bedroom. Logan was kept downstairs and the stairwell was blocked with a 48 inch tall fencing. They howled a good amount talking to one another. Sparkle who is normally very chill and non destructive did her best to dismantle the bedroom door in an effort join Logan. She did a damn good job too. A determined Basenji is just that. Single minded and often inconsolable. And that wasn't 8 hours...

    Think of the worst and be prepared for that. Ask yourself if you're willing to accept it. Never blame the dog. Logan chewed up a remote control this morning. Oh well. I'll just get another. You might start looking for dog walkers in your area. Call them and get to know a few, Get prices and decide if that cost is something you can afford. Getting rid of that excess energy on days you're away will go a long way in keeping your Basenji happy. Especially if he/she is it's own one dog pack. My two cents...

  • @tanza AND if you have more than one - they need company. Preferable yours but another Basenji does as well.

  • @tanza yes that’s right depending if they have a garden to access whilst you are out etc.

    Dog theft is all still high in the uk so I wouldn’t risk a basenji at home for a really long period unattended and having access to the garden incase “worse case scenario happened” and someone came into the garden.

    In the Uk I haven’t seen any positive news with a basenji at day care, I personally won’t put my two in daycare at all.

  • @micah Mine are never alone in the garden, not for 5 minutes if I am going out. When I am away for ANY length of time, let alone for hours, they are shut in the house. With the radio on and in the kitchen with comfy beds.

    There is a gate at the top of the stairs and a radiator half way up. They love to lie on the stairs as the sun shines through in the afternoons !

  • @organicshadows said in Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet:

    I am expected to come into the office once or twice per week

    Perhaps you could compromise and work at the office 3 or 4 days/week. Then your pup would be alone for 5-6 hours instead of 9-10 hours (you didn't allow for the commute and lunch break).

  • @elbrant 5 - 6 hours for a puppy is still far too long.

  • @zande said in Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet:

    @elbrant 5 - 6 hours for a puppy is still far too long.

    And then people come to this forum because they have created a problem dog and wonder why....

    If you don't have time for your dog or can't make appropriate arrangements, why would you get one?

  • I agree that a pup, in a new place, without supervision, for any amount of time, is too long. But dogs, like children, can be resilient. Even adults might not like changes in their environment, but they tend to adjust and adapt to it. Of course, a Basenji's adjustment period generally includes chaos, destruction, and the outright carnage of any accessible object. 😉

    @eeeefarm said in Separation anxiety - basenji vs whippet:

    If you don't have time for your dog or can't make appropriate arrangements, why would you get one?

    Psychology 101(?):

    • People generally want what they want (oftentimes, until they get it).... and,
    • Most humans are not evolved enough to see the "whole" picture....

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