• Hello All!

    Just wanted a few different ears on this one. On receiving Lycia back from her lovely step mum Janneke, we have discovered - she can not and will not be alone. At all. Absolute refusal. Oh, and there is no proper doggie day care in the city - at least to my knowledge.

    We started slow over a month (her having full charge of the flat), short exits a few minutes a piece then 10 etc. To no real avail, video has shown she has screamed her way through an hour of alone time, and she has started to eat away at the molding on the door. Now, I'm pretty sure my landlord will not approve so we do need to sort things out. I do understand that this is a massive adjustment period for her, she has rapidly changed environments in less than a year. But I for one, do not know how to make this easier on her. I have done some research (ie reading the usuals, "Ill Be Home Soon" etc) but I have yet to find a system that works for her. She is always in a panic, be it 10 min or an hour.

    We do have the summer to work on this but I feel a bit doubtful deep down. She has always resented being alone, despite being crate trained since she was brought home as a puppy. She was happy to hang out in her crate for naps and snacks etc - but beware if she was left there. And she expresses said frustration with periodic urination and shredding of bedding (no surprise there). I have just bought a crate today, large enough to fit a Rottie, in hopes that we might coax her back into the idea that being alone isn't the worst thing to happen to her. The hard truth is, I don't need to be gone much this summer, but there will be a few hours when it is necessary and I can't have her making a meal of the door frames. :mad: I have started at the beginning, where everything in this crate is magical and yummy and fun.. but my belief is she is too smart for that. The crate offers goodies, but she won't touch them if it means she has to suffer her own company for 2 hours.

    Not surprisingly she is perfectly fine with another dog around - a solution that I really can not responsibly provide within the next year. So, my fellow readers, is there anything to be done ? 😕😕😕

  • Is it possible to get a kitten, or a smaller dog, just to keep her company. Or perhaps you know someone with a yard and a dog where she visit when you have to be gone.

    I have never had one with acute separation anxiety, so I only offer suggestions I have heard from others

  • could you foster a dog until you get your second basenji?

  • So having the company of Tillo was easy for her to be left alone by Janneke and reinforced Lucia's feeling "I should/will not ever be left alone again". You'll have to start over again like you said. Eventually she will get adjusted by leaving her for more extended time periods. How about doing some training this summer with her? Have her learn new things with commands and rewards. Start off taking her for long walks or runs and wear her out then leave her for a little bit eventually building up. You can try leaving a radio on too while you're gone.

  • AJ is an absolute BUTT when I leave him alone in a house or hotel room. He ate a set of floor-to-ceiling curtains at a hotel once…and $180 later...:eek: :mad: He's fine in the truck. So, to keep him out of trouble when we're landed for a few days, he goes in the crate whenever he's going to be left alone. No fanfare, no goodies or any of that. He just gets nonchalantly placed in the crate. And there is no bedding in there with him or it will come out looking like it went through a farm auger.

    Since it seems you are starting from scratch, it sounds like you are going the right direction. Wish you the best on this...

  • Can you get a copy of the DVD, Crate Games? Maybe if you worked on those and then pair the crate and waiting in the crate with some really fun, reinforcing activities like agility or whatever activity is really high value for her. For L'Ox it is nosework. So once you have got the foundation with the crate games, then she goes in the crate waits then is released from the crate to do the really fun thing.

  • You could try a DAP Diffuser. It is like a plug in air freshener. It gives out appeasing pheramones which are supposed to calm dogs. I have just started using one in our living room and kennels as Nakura is trashing her wooden kennel. She has chewed through 2 doors and ruined the insides too! Trouper has learnt from her and will now not sleep alone in the living room (there are 5 other dogs crated in there!). He insists on sleeping with us. He will scrape at the door and whine until we give in. We have had the DAP for nearly a week now and Trouper seems to be sleeping OK on his own. 🙂

  • I agree with Benkura about the Dap diffuser - you can also get a DAP collar although they are expensive. Unfortunately as the others have posted it is probably better to start from square one.

    I do have the experience of Basenjis who just won't be crated but I've always had company for the Basenjis so have never had to leave one alone. In the kennels we always leave the radio on. There is also a CD Relaxation music for your dog. The music has been specially composed for animals . The CD is produced by Omnibus Media www.musicsales.com and the composer is Hiroki Sakaguchi. We always put this on and set it to repeat when we have to leave the dogs for long periods.

    It's certainly worth a try.

  • Well,

    Sqaure one I think it shall have to be. DAP always seemed a bit hit or miss with me but I'm willing to try. I always leave a reading of a book or something with constant talking for her when I'm gone, just so it sounds like when I'm here.

    Just as a small test to see what I was working with (since she had no problems popping in and out of said crate, napping etc) - I shut the door whilst she was eating and sat right next to the crate. I put my fingers through the bars and gave her bits of her favorite snacks. And it was a disaster. That door shut and she just lost, it, it was moments, literally moments, and she had her mouth through the crate, getting it stuck there for a second with a piercing howl. Screaming and screaming. And I sat there talked to her, just waiting till she took a breath so I could open the door without it being associated with having a fit. Said opportunity never came, such a state of panic in a matter of seconds I haven't seen before, even though I was right there. I got her to sit, opened the door, she walked out like nothing. And then proceeded to go back in for her nightly supper. I don't know if she'll ever go back to dealing with a crate, certainly not this open one. Even if she "faked it" for 10 min and then settled down when I was gone, with the violence of her reaction she could seriously injure herself.

    So the grocery shopping to be put off until a friend has some time off work. Blows my mind. 😞

  • have you tried an exercise pen instead of a crate?

  • @agilebasenji:

    have you tried an exercise pen instead of a crate?

    I was going to ask that question as well. When I got Ruby (she was a 2yo adult when she came to live here), she had separation anxiety when crated. Consequently, I set her up with an xpen (with a top) and her crate (with bedding) in the xpen. I'd leave a high value treat in her crate (marrow bones usually). When I would leave she wouldn't even notice because she was so enthralled with the bone and when I would come home from work I would always find her asleep in her crate. She was completely different with the xpen/crate setup than she was with the crate only setup. Ultimately, I added Brando (3yo when he joined the family) and once he arrived, Ruby no longer needed the xpen, she was fine in her crate.

    When Aaliyah was added as a puppy, I did the same setup of xpen/crate (bedding in crate) and also put a litterbox in the xpen. It worked the same as it did with Ruby - I'd leave high value treats and would always come home to Liyah sleeping in her crate. I do attribute how good Liyah is in her crate now with her making the choice on her own to sleep in the crate as a baby.

  • I think it's the idea of confinement, not what she is confined in.. because what she is in now could be considered a x pen with how large it is, it's big enough for 3 Basenjis. I mean it takes up a better half of a kitchen. I'm doing an experiment at the moment. I'm going to try it tomorrow, and record it.. and I'll post pictures because it's a bit hilarious. I'll just keep experimenting. We'll try the DAP next if this fails. Perhaps then a proper x pen. and then if that fails, I'll just jump out the window. 😉

    I have also tried the allure of a tasty meaty bone, she ignores it until I get back… EVEN if it's dabbed with peanut butter- her ULTIMATE love. :0/

    She LOOKS serene and lovely, it's a lieeeeeeeeeeee. 😛

  • Maybe she's upset about all the changes, you being gone for months and that you may not come back again for months? So everytime you leave she's feeling "is she coming back"??

  • I'm sad to hear Lycia is having problems with being left alone.. 😞 She did very well here. She would whine a bit every 15 min (getting up from the couch, walking to the door, whining for a few seconds, back to the couch and sitting next to Tillo, 'sleeping' a bit etc). We wouldn't leave them alone for more than 3,5/4 hours, but still.. no problems with chewing etc. My advice: add a dog 😉 Maybe not even a puppy, but an adult dog who's comfortable being left alone. What I've noticed, is that she really looked up to Tillo, like a big 'brother' or her 'savier' 😉 It really helped her to see that Tillo was relaxed.

    I hope you can figure it out and help her get over it. And if nothing works and you want to jump out of the window…..... Just remember you can always send her back to us :p 😉 Tillo still misses her!

  • You could try melatonin suppliments as well to help calm her when you leave.

  • @starrlamia:

    You could try melatonin suppliments as well to help calm her when you leave.

    I would consult a veterinarian before giving her melatonin.

  • Hi Schouiffy, So sorry that you are unable to go out even for groceries… internet shopping in the short term? And she does look very serene looking over Edinburgh... how pictures can lie!

    My thoughts would be, yes the changes could have unsettled her and made it more difficult for her. However I am assuming that in the past there was no bad association with the crate or her being left and it sounds like she just doesn't want to be left alone / be shut in her crate rather than a specific issue associated with you leaving her/ being shut in the crate.

    It may be of use to find a good veterinary behaviourist as whilst you work on these issues using DAP collar and an appropriate sedative could make life easier for you - the medication would not be a permanent 'fix' but just get her mind in a better place whilst you work on this.

    Also if might be better if you tried a smaller crate? And I would be tempted to try with it completely covered - one she can't see a reaction from you - and dogs typically like small dark places.

    Be it crate or car, I have worked on the theory that wherever I want my dog to settle I make it VERY comfy - just recently I had to transition from using crate in the car to back of car with guard as I got another dog - everyone laughed when they saw the 2 duvets folded in the back, but my little guy who had never slept in the car (because there were too much to see) now settles down to sleep, even with the additional distraction of another dog. I don't have my dogs up on the furniture (unless by invitation) so I would have the only soft bedding in the crate, and the crate would be sited in a good spot. I don't make a big thing out of going into the crate when I first got them, its the comfiest place they are allowed so they soon regard it as their bed.

    When Tadgh was little I just bit my lip when I saw blankets/beds being chewed and shredded, but in fairness he never completely destroyed them and my attitude there were his bed so he was free to do what he wanted with them. I would suggest some cheapie fleece blankets which wouldn't be too hard to clear up, but she could make a nice nest in them.

    Assuming Lycia is a good eater I would only feed her in the crate - eg pop her in the crate and give her the food do this for a few days so she knows the routine and then when she is doing this as normal, eg after a 10-14 days close the door. Don't make a big fuss about closing the door, just close it normally. If she kicks up a fuss - which I would expect her to do, open the door remove the food. It it is vital that you do not make eye contact with her, talk to her, just ignore her if she is kicking up fuss just remove the food quickly and put it out of sight. Once the food is out of the way, sit down as if the incident had never happened and if she comes up for a fuss, great give her some quiet attention. 30-60 mins later try again. If she does it again, remove it and then try again the following day.

    As she knows that throwing these noisy and violent behaviours will get the crate open - and I don't blame you for her own safety as well as ensuring your neighbours don't get upset - you have to out-think her that by the crate door opening something that she likes will disappear too. I would expect her to starve herself for a couple of days, but if you keep going with this and giver her no reaction I would think that by day 3 she will have worked out that her antics are not getting her the desired result. If she does start to eat then as soon as she has finished open the door. But don't make a big fuss of her - its normal for dogs to eat in crates door open or door closed - and the end result is you want a dog that is happy and relaxed in or out of a crate. Just say what a clever girl she is and get on with whatever you were doing. She will then realise the 'power' the crate had is diminished. But it is important at this stage she is not left with the door shut and that these door shut times are frequent but very short 10 seconds - 2 minutes with her being sensible.

    Again if she has a favourite toy or meaty bones, then try the same thing. Eg remove all her toys and she only get to play with her toys when she is her crate with the door shut - don't be surprised that she kicks up a fuss, merely quickly open the crate and remove the 'goody', again ignoring her completely.

    If she loves going out for walks in time the 'game' can be extended so that she has to be in her crate before you will put the lead on. Again you'd start with the door open, but until she is her crate she doesn't get her lead on, when this is working well, then add the door closing as before.

    Hope these might have given you some ideas to work with.


    I find my most effective training takes place when I've done the thinking before I attempt it - eg what will I do if he does this... what will I do if he does that... my timing is then much better and I'm not caught trying to think how to handle something.

    The other thing I would recommend is doing brain work with her - I've just started classes for the bronze KC with Tadgh - and I love the time after our class - even the following morning he is still mentally tired out!

  • Thanks for everyone's comments, especially that extensive one Jaycee (you had some ideas I hadn't thought of!), we will be on it if the different crate gets here. Yes, I have given up the open crate, I think it was a fools dream to think she would like it when she hated it as a puppy.

    BUT AH HA!! I have found the temporary fix, oh yes indeed. I haven't had a minute to film but I have solved the chewing on the door. I have barricaded it with large plastic suitcases. Now, granted it's really odd to have company with large suitcases in front of the door, but I don't care cause she isn't eating the door and she isn't chewing on anything else in the house. I'm still not sure if she is howling the whole way through, but the last two times I have come home she hasn't been at the door immediately and she looked sleepy - VICTORY because my bed was warm, so she had to be laying on it for at least a good while to get it that hot. I'll film tomorrow to see if I have been proven right or not, because if she has begun to move into a acceptance place I'll leave suitcases in front of the door forever for her. 🙂

    Alas (and yay) the boyfriend is returning from a month away in Spain so I think we will have to start all over again, because now 2 PEOPLE WILL LEAVE (shriek, run and terror) and she'll be left… which I have a feeling she will take issue with, because obviously the BF and I are chasing birds, running in the sunshine and generally having soooo much fun whilst she is stuck at home 😉

    It's small, but I think I might have a crack, a tiny tiny way in... and if that doesn't work, I'll go and sell my soul for the super big travel crate which she prefers and start training from 0. ... yay. 😉

    oh the things we do for these monsters (she is a monster by the way as I'm pretty sure this this the worst most bitchy pre-heat season she has ever had)

  • Re bitchy pre-heat season - try 'Hormonise' from Animal Health. My bitches always have it in the couple of months leading up to the season and it helps no end. It's purely natural so has no adverse effect and originally developed for in-season mares.

    I'm glad you're getting some way into resolving the problems. The suitcases sound a good idea. I don't know about you but my visitors have got used to finding odd solutions to 'Basenji work' when they call!!!!

  • Totally agree with Patty. Try Hormonise, also Stroppy Bitch is good too. I should know - Patty bred my 'stroppy bitch' 😃

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