Seperation anxiety

My Basenji is now 6 months old, and hates being left alone! I am sure it doesn't help that I work from home and am with her pretty much 24 hours a day. When we leave her in her crate she poops and pees everywhere from nervouness I guess, because it's almost like diarreah. I tried to leave her in the bathroom thinking more space would be better and the same thing happens there too. I don't want to let her have the run of the house since I know she'll chew and destroy something because of her nerves. She even has a hard time when I am showering, or if we go into another room and close the door. I already tried leaving her in her crate for 15 min at a time when I'm working in my home office, but after a week of doing so it didn't seem like we were making any progress. She does sleep in her own bed at night, however sometimes she does sneek in ours, but we put her back down. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I want to make sure she feels comfortable alone.
Thank you

This is something that this basenji has to learn she is young and it does take time.
Do you do a lot of exercising before you put her in the crate?
She needs to know the crate has "good" things, so you should feed her in it, put "treats" in occasionally, and teach her that she can be alone be it crated or free.
Its like my house, I do laundry in the garage, so when I get ready to walk out the door, I do it like I am going to work.
I make sure the dogs are tired and empty…that means a long walk, not just a pee in the yard..
I leave very calmly, and come back with no greeting.
The coming and going is no big deal, be it go to the mailbox to get mail, go to work, go to the store...
There are others who can help you in more detail, but you basenji is young, and needs to learn this, for your whole family sake.

There are some other threads here that have lots of good suggestions…..but my feeling is that this breed (because they are such pack animals) do much better if they are not left alone--either have another canine companion or their human. It sounds like she's not left alone much anyway--but you might be right--that may make it harder for her to become accustomed to it. I have a father/daughter pair; and if I take either one out and leave the other at home, I come back to nonstop howling or destruction. Together--they are just two happy little clams.

thanks so much for the advice, and Max that is comforting to know what you said because we are planning to get her brother in the next litter, so I am hoping that will help her with being home alone 🙂

I remember when we trained our dogs we would leave for a real short time like a walk, then slowly extend the amount of time we were gone. The most has been a week (with a pet sitter)

I have heard as well that you should try to desensitize your dog to your leaving. Everynow and then pick up your keys, put on you coat and then take them off. Keep doing that and eventually it will be no big deal.

I think if you get her brother, that will really help. Dash was crazy until we got him a friend.

@Barklessdog:

I remember when we trained our dogs we would leave for a real short time like a walk, then slowly extend the amount of time we were gone. The most has been a week (with a pet sitter)

Sometimes you have to start in even smaller increments. Like you get the dog to walk in the crate, and you close the door..before dog can react, you let the dog out. Then get to where you can close the door and stand up…let the dog out...then get to where you can walk to the other room, come back, let the dog out....and so on....it can be a very long process for dog that is truly crate phobic, or has extreme separation anxiety.

There are quite a few other extensive threads on this topic. But usually there is no quick fix, when dogs are at this level...they are physically and mentally UNABLE to just learn to deal with it. You have to intervene with behavioral modification, or drugs, or both. Often the best approach is to use anti-anxiety meds while you train behavioral modification. A good behaviorist may be in order here, and/or a talk with your vet.

Good luck...I hope you find a solution.

@Quercus:

Sometimes you have to start in even smaller increments. Like you get the dog to walk in the crate, and you close the door..before dog can react, you let the dog out. Then get to where you can close the door and stand up…let the dog out...then get to where you can walk to the other room, come back, let the dog out....and so on....it can be a very long process for dog that is truly crate phobic, or has extreme separation anxiety.

There are quite a few other extensive threads on this topic. But usually there is no quick fix, when dogs are at this level...they are physically and mentally UNABLE to just learn to deal with it. You have to intervene with behavioral modification, or drugs, or both. Often the best approach is to use anti-anxiety meds while you train behavioral modification. A good behaviorist may be in order here, and/or a talk with your vet.

Good luck...I hope you find a solution.

Hmmm, this sounds vaguely familiar. Oh right. You've just described my life with Keoki, LOL.

We are currently using behavior modification and anti-anxiety meds. We just started the meds this week after another consultation in which she saw some, but very little improvement.

He's only been on the meds for 2.5 days, so I'm not sure yet how effective they are. She had suggested that I try shutting a crate door last night, but I opted to wait for a weekend night so that if he still freaks out it won't wake dh on a work night. 😉 When it got near bedtime last night, though, Keoki did go and try to get into his crate. He couldn't because the door was shut, but he went in and was pulling it at it for a few seconds. So at least he knows that's where he starts the night.

It was funny because I did sort of push the doors to both crates to the almost shut point. He didn't worry about that, which ordinarily he would have. But I noticed as soon as I got to the door of the room on my way out, he pushed his door open and went to Jazzy's crate and opened it too. then he just looked in at her. Jazzy was already curled up for sleep at that time and ignored him. I don't know what happened after that because I left the room.

I think I've told you that he sleeps fine at night –- in a 6' x 4" ex-pen, with both his and Jazzy's crates OPEN in the pen. If either crate door is closed he flips out. This is a huge accomodation to him, and we need to get him to sleep in his crate with the door shut. The room in which the ex-pen is set up is our dd's room, but she is away at college right now. The room WAS doubling as a guest room, but no more.
In fact, my sister is coming to visit this weekend and she has to sleep on the couch. Not that there's anything wrong sleeping on the couch {aside from the fact that dh is up and moving around at 5:30AM}, but it seems a bit silly with a bedroom sitting there. :rolleyes:

Also dont make a big fuss when you leave. We give out dogs a treat when we leave as well.

The only times our dogs go really crazy if one goes for a car ride and the other does not- that hurts!

Mia, I know where you're coming from. My Magnum suffered from mild SA. There is a ton of good internet information to be mined. The keys are patience and time. Don't rush the behavior modification process. Good luck to you.

My Basenji Qinn hates to be left alone. We built him a room of his own (a 10x10 room) and he does pretty good when left there. We had trained him to use a potty pad so when left all day while we are at work he can still go with out going on the actual floor. Quinn is now 11 months and we got him at 9 weeks. So he is now kind of used to it. 2 days a week we take him to a friend with 2 dogs for the whole day. He loves this and he is completely wore out at night and everybody gets a good night sleep. He plays so hard with her dogs. My problem is the ride in the car. He freaks out dring the ride and tries to beat me to get out of the car. So I guess what I am trying to say is just take your time and be tough about it. YOu are the pack leader.

And as the pack leader, I would only suggest that you be a consistent, kind, caring leader of your pack 🙂 But I have to admit, I had a trainer (of police dogs) tell me one time that on a scale of one to 10 as a pack leader, I was a 0!!!! That was many, many years ago, and I think I'm a better leader now–but my kindness and caring does outweigh my toughness any day.....

Kenzie use to do the samething when I would leave her alone. What I did was get a smaller crate. Most dogs don't poop or pee where they lay. It took her a couple week and then she got it. She hates when I leave her alone. I use to not be able to leave her out during the day, but now that she is 3 years old. She is alot better. She loves chewing cords. She has chewed my computer cord and camera cord. Other than that she hasn't chewed anything else.

Keoki spent the whole night in his crate….and in fact is STILL there.

I didn't lock the crate, but I did push the door shut. Normally, he'd be standing up, pushing it open, and exiting rapidly. The past few nights however, he has lain down and gone to sleep. By the time I've gotten up in the mornings {just before 6AM}, he's been out of his crate sitting by the ex-pen door patiently waiting for me to let him out.

This morning he was still in the crate, w/the door closed. I opened the door to the crate and left the room expecting him to follow me, but he's still there and it's been almost 30 minutes!!
I"m pretty excited and cautiously optimistic!

The only thing I'm concerned about now is, one day this week Bryan is going to take him for the day to be collected. I'm afraid the trip in the car in a crate will traumatize him just enough to make us take a few steps back in this whole process.
Oh well, at least I know it can be done!

@JazzysMom:

Keoki spent the whole night in his crate….and in fact is STILL there.

I didn't lock the crate, but I did push the door shut. Normally, he'd be standing up, pushing it open, and exiting rapidly. The past few nights however, he has lain down and gone to sleep. By the time I've gotten up in the mornings {just before 6AM}, he's been out of his crate sitting by the ex-pen door patiently waiting for me to let him out.

This morning he was still in the crate, w/the door closed. I opened the door to the crate and left the room expecting him to follow me, but he's still there and it's been almost 30 minutes!!
I"m pretty excited and cautiously optimistic!

The only thing I'm concerned about now is, one day this week Bryan is going to take him for the day to be collected. I'm afraid the trip in the car in a crate will traumatize him just enough to make us take a few steps back in this whole process.
Oh well, at least I know it can be done!

That is GREAT! Congrats on the progress. So, did you guys follow through with the ignoring him for a couple weeks? Do you think that had to do with the behavioral progress, or do you think it had more to do with gradual desensitization to the crate?

@Quercus:

That is GREAT! Congrats on the progress. So, did you guys follow through with the ignoring him for a couple weeks? Do you think that had to do with the behavioral progress, or do you think it had more to do with gradual desensitization to the crate?

Yes, we did. And yes, it nearly killed my children. 😃

Because of the speed at which this is all happening, I think it has more to do with the behavioral progress.

He's still being somewhat ignored… I mean, in order to get anything {treats, a toy, etc} We must offer it, and he must first make eye contact w/us, we smile say "YES!!!" or "Good Boy!!!" something along those lines . The idea is that his focus is on us, not what he wants; and that he sees that he gets what he wants because it pleases us, not because it pleases him.

We've also been working with Keoki AND Jazzy on their attitudes -- They lose the treat, toy, blanket, me, the kids, whatever if they even growl at each other.
I haven't been snuggling Jazzy much at all -- that's when she gets meanest w/the other dogs, whenever she's near me. So when she does her "Mom, please pick me up stare" I ignore her. I pay attention to her when I want her, not when she wants me. I think it won't be long before she's back to being my snuggle buddy {Keoki never was a real cuddler}, and I think she won't be as snotty about me.
Sometimes they'll both be laying on a blanket together and he will just suddenly snark and attack,chasing her off the blanket. Now,I know there's been a lot of silent communcation prior to the snark,but I've missed it. Anyway, that happens and he's off the blanket until I decide he can use it again.

It's been hard, but I tell you there's a lot less even growly undertones. He leaves her completely alone while she's eating, whereas he used to hover over her every moment. When he does snap on the blanket, HE looks at me, gets up and leaves it, LOL.

Things aren't perfect here, but there have been some real changes made.

Oh, and remember he is also on anti-anxiety medications for the time being.

Jazzysmom, great to hear of the improvement.

Interesting about the not cuddling Jazzy as much. I have noticed Dash as started getting snarky with Sissy lately when whe comes up to snuggle. She doesn't seem to get it and ignores him but he does not like to share mommy's precious lap.

@dash:

Jazzysmom, great to hear of the improvement.

Interesting about the not cuddling Jazzy as much. I have noticed Dash as started getting snarky with Sissy lately when whe comes up to snuggle. She doesn't seem to get it and ignores him but he does not like to share mommy's precious lap.

Jazzy will often actually leap off my lap and go after whichever dog dared to come near. She tenses as soon as one of the other dogs enters the room, or gets up off the blanket on the floor. If I say anything to her, her growling really elevates. I do dump her, but then she goes after them anyway. So, she doesn't get held at all, for now.

Now, for Keoki that has become a game {but not one we want to encourage}, and he will often stand six feet away and start doing that "come and get me" jumping around. Then they're off and w/in a few seconds they are playing. But it doesn't start that way w/Jazz.

That sounds really good! Good work! I had forgotten about the anxiety meds, I hope that they take the edge off enough that he can change his behavior.

We have some issues here with "people guarding" as well. I usually put the offender in "crate time" if they get too, well..offensive…but I don't think I am consistant enough with it to really eliminate the problem. I will be interested to hear how it is when (if?) you allow Jazzy to snuggle again. I think you are on the right track, by not allowing the behavior to happen. I hate the thought of not cuddling with the dogs though 😞 That is one of the main joys of having Basenjis, I think...but the snarking does take the joy away...

Anyhow, congrats again on your success...and thanks for sharing your journey here. I think we can all learn a lot from vicarously going thru other folks' training solutions.

Yes, I agree with people guarding.. if mine do that, they are "dumped" on the floor… it is NOT acceptable behavior... gggg But like Andrea, I don't think that the behavior will really change.... but they get the message if they land on the floor!

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.