• hi everyone

    my name is heather and im a new basenji foster mom

    i lived with a black and white female basenji named maya for 10 years til she passed away from cancer about 2 years ago

    i decided quite recently to foster a basenji contacted brat and have been fostering sebastian a red and white male for about 1 1/2 weeks now
    i thought id join this forum as a way of getting advice info support from other basenji owners
    ive included a photo of sebastian hes such a beautiful red and white boy

  • He's a handsome boy indeed. πŸ™‚

  • he is a hansome boy. are you sure you're not on your way to be a failed foster home?

  • no chance of being a failed foster with sebastian πŸ™‚

    he has separation anxiety
    ive had him for about 1 1/2 weeks and havent been able to leave the house without him
    im starting to get a bit stir crazy at this point, im cancelling appts and having to find someone to stay with im so i can do things like go to the grocery store

    have been talking with someone at brat about it but dont want to overload her with the problems (although she is aware of them) and has given much advice, she has been very supportive and helpful πŸ™‚
    this is my first foster, and i really dont want to complain but …...

    if i leave the room for more then 60 seconds sebastian searches til he finds me.
    if im outside and he cant find me he starts to howl and howl and howl, he'll stop for a few minutes then starts again
    if my roommates are home he is fine or he whines and paces a bit then settles down.
    if im in the shower he stands outside the shower curtain looking at me til im done

    i dont think its a question of his fearing i wont come back i think its a case of sebastian doesnt want to be alone period!

    i am wondering if this was the reason sebastian was found running loose and the shelter couldnt find the owners, they may have gotten tired of dealing with the problem.

    not sure how to fix this issue, wish i had another basenji companion for sebastian to see if that would enable him to be without humans in the house.

    another issue sebastian has is excessive cleaning, he loves to lick himself, spent about 4 sleepless nights with sebastian bumping up against me everytime he licked himself 5 or 6 times a night pretty much solved that by having him wear his coat to bed. if i try to interrupt the cleaning procedure(he is usually at my feet under the covers so i put a foot in the way) he growls at me
    last night he actually tried to lick the entire surface of the bed and then started licking his coat, i think he soothes or relaxes himself by doing this but its beginning to get on my nerves,especially when i havent had a good nights sleep because of it.

    last night he spent half the night coughing, he'd cough a few times at the end it would sound like he was trying to bring something up, he' stop coughing then in a few minutes he would repeat the entire sequence this went on for hours. not a cough out of him this morning.
    hes been checked by the vet and is free and clear of all issues,

    having said all of this sebastian is the ideal basenji!!!

    he is incredibly elegant in the way he moves and the way he carries himself, everyone at the dog park comments on this

    it took 2 squirts of water to keep him out of the trash

    he doesnt counter surf, tear up paper, get in the bathroom trash.
    he doesnt do any of the things basenjis are known for doing
    hes already learning the word no

    hes good with everybody, hes improving daily when meeting new dogs at the dog park, walks beautifully on the leash when using a harness.
    hes so smart and so sweet and will gaze into your eyes for minutes at a time when you talk to him
    he sits when asked and will actually stay on a long rope when you are outside for hours at a time just sleeping the sun, i think you could take him to an outside cafe and have coffee with friends and he would be perfectly content, i never thought id find a basenji like that !!
    he doesnt like the crate, i dont think crate training him will help with the anxiety, and hes not destructive, so im not pushing it.

    my last basenji was very independent during the day so im not used to a dog who who is with me literally 24/7, especially when he spends most of that time cleaning himself, over and over and over argh!!!!

    but im committed to fostering him for as long as it takes,

    im just hope someone can come up with some idea i havent heard to deal with the issues sebastian has, maybe someone has a dog like sebastian and found a way to solve the issues?

    having said this im on a limited budget so trying over the counter remedys etc is going to be difficult,
    kongs are expensive so i bought some marrow bones hollowed them out and have peanut butter inside them this keeps him busy for about 15 minutes or so, he doesnt like rawhide and eats pigs ears in about 20 minutes

    sebastian doesnt seem to know what play is, at the dog park his main interest is collecting info, ie: licking male dogs penises and sniffing, tasting their urine, he doesnt do this just to greet them, sebastian is on a mission, after the initial greeting he will follow a dog around just trying to sniff and lick,completely intent on doing this for a long period of time.
    sebastian doesnt play per se his idea of playing is to watch the dogs run, and as they are running he figures out a line of attack, he meets them at an angle and tries to bite at the top of their shoulders, he loves to tear out their hair if he can.

    he was fascinated by a newfie that was there one day couldnt stop taking out hair with his front teeth.
    he has barrooed several times while watching the other dogs play so i have hopes that he will join in

    sebastian will follow other dogs and their owners when they leave the park, which makes me think that he just wants to be part of a pack and that may ease his anxiety when being left home alone.

    so would appreciate any input from anyone :))
    as you can imagine im a bit isolated since im here at home 24/7 with sebastian, email and the dog park are the only interactions i have with other people since he arrived πŸ™‚

    so please excuse the long post, imjust trying to give a good portrait of sebastian and his issues

    thanks all πŸ™‚

  • Welcome to the forum Heather, i admire you for fostering it must be realy hard work.
    I'm sorry i haven't ant experience with seperation anxiety but i know there is plenty of info on here and i'm sure other people will be able to help.
    If he's been dumped he's bound to feel scared that you will leave him as well, sounds like he's clinging to you. Maybe as he becomes more secure he will improve and maybe the obsessive cleaning will decrease, it must drive you mad.
    As for him leaving the park with other people with Dogs, both my first Basenji and our Pup would do this if they could. I'm sure that they love us but the pull of other Dogs makes them temporarily forget us.
    Good luck with Sebastion, he looks a lovely boy.

  • Welcome Heather…
    I'm in Maine - in Gray, and have 4 basenjis - where are you located.

    Separation anxiety is a tough issue. My 2 oldest basenjis sleep with me. Brando likes to give himself a bath around midnight (so it does wake me up usually) and Ruby likes to do hers around 4am (and sometimes the blanket as well). I've just become used to it, so I can go back to sleep now. I would say the growling thing on the bed isn't allowed at my house. If any of them growl on the bed, they usually are not allowed back on the bed for a week or 2. I had the issue on occasion at first, but haven't had either Ruby or Brando do it in a while.

    BTW, I was at an eye clinic in Yarmouth 2 weekends ago have the eyes done on my 4 and they told me there was another basenji coming later in the day - was it you by chance?

  • Could it be that Sebastian has a more "general anxiety problem" rather than just separation anxiety? Are there others on here that have basenjis that are generally anxious all the time?

  • hi all

    thanks for replying so quickly πŸ™‚
    are we in the right forum for this discussion?

    im hoping that sebastians issue might be that he was lost and in a shelter for a month and is now doing the velcro dog thing and he will get better, but of course its hard to say and since hes up for adoption it seems like it would be good to work this all out

    im glad that he leaves the dog park with other dogs and people it means that he is not attached to me so much as the idea of just being with others, which is why im hopeful that being in a home with other basenjis might be just what he needs when he is adopted.
    unfortunately i have no way to find this out i either need to import some to my home for a week or two or import him somewhere with basenjis and see if he is fine when left alone with the other dogs:)

    sebastian is pretty much adamant about sleeping with me, he came to me with tapeworms and one night they were emerging with great rapidity in my bed and i couldnt get him out!!
    i ended up wrapping him like a burrito to try to keep them off of me while i tried to sleep πŸ™‚
    im alright with him growling since hes unable to actually tell me "hey im busy here leave me alone" he hasnt snapped at me, so as long as it doesnt escalate i dont think ill worry too much, maya never growled at me in 10 years so it does startle me a bit when he does it.
    im working on letting him know verbally that i really need him to stop cleaning, i find that rubbing his forehead and nose gently will sometimes relax him and put him to sleep when hes licking. right now when i cant take it anymore i put part of the blanket over the area hes licking then anchor it with my foot til he gives up and falls asleep.
    hes getting alot of exercise on the days i havent gotten much sleep we go to the dog park for hours since im basically useless for anything but just sitting πŸ™‚

    im wondering if it is a general anxiety thing, he was on metacam for a few days for pain and seemed much calmer when he was taking it (not sure if it does calm them as well as taking away pain, might have been wishful thinking)
    he's due for xrays next monday maybe i should bring up antianxiety meds with brat then talk to the vet? maybe if he takes them and is less anxious he might learn some new behaviors? maybe able to stop taking them after a while?

    i have been taking him to the vet on brackett st.

    the day i took him there i saw a basenji and didnt even recognize it as a basenji, strangest one ive seen, looked exactly like a brindle shiba inu, are basenjis supposed to look like that? really thick fur, very very broad face, really short legs with a stocky body if the girls behind the desk hadnt pointed it out as a basenji i never would have known πŸ™‚
    i looked up the kennel name on the web and found the page had expired, was curious to see if all this kennels basenjis looked like this
    so thanks for the comments advice etc keep them coming πŸ™‚
    we are off for a walk, then the dog park

  • It did cross my mind to suggest some sort of medication to help him in the short term, like you say it may break the pattern of behaviours so that he can learn some new ones.
    Hopefully your vet will be able to advise, you won't be able to cope well if you don't get some sleep.

  • It sounds to me as though your boy has several anxiety issues that you might need professional help to sort out. I'm sure there are those on this forum who can recommend a good behaviourist to you - one who has experience of Basenjis perhaps?

    Licking becomes a habit which can be hard to break but not ompossible.

  • He may also have OCD. You are still in the 'honeymoon' period as well. So things may still change with him over the next while.

  • Glad you found the forum. Have you posted your b's issues to the BRAT-Chat list.
    Many folks have had b's with these behaviors, and they might be able to give you a
    step by step approch to behavior issues.
    I would suggest you ignore him when he is velcor b. If he goes and lays down, or relaxes at all, give him praise. No "poor baby" voice with this boy..everything is ok, all upbeat tones. He is taking his clues from you. If you leave to say, go check the mail, when you come back, ignore him. Don't greet him until he settles down and starts to relax.
    Those are my short tips.
    Hugs for being a dedicated rescue person. We sure need you and you know the b's do!

  • hi
    thanks for all the replies
    didnt know brat had a chat list so will look into that
    i dont actually let sebastian know im leaving at all so no verbal cues are being given,
    i take him to the dog park almost daily for hours and the changes in his behavior are happening daily, he seems much more confident and is letting me leave the room for at least 3 or 4 minutes now before he comes to look for me which is a huge improvement, the dog park seems to be giving him confidence in himself. everyone there comments on the changes in his behavior and looks from just a week and a half ago so maybe we are on the right track thanks again for all the advice and encouragement πŸ™‚

  • How old is Sebastian?

  • the information that i have is that sebastian is 8 years old

  • First Basenji's

    Hi Heather. Welcome to the forum!
    I sympathize with you about the anxiety. It's so stressful.

    Cody came to live with me last year. He was 3 years old. Like you, I don't know a lot about his past. What I know by the state that I picked him up in and from what I've experienced with him over the last year, he was neglected physically and emotionally. He has had lots of anxiety issues, many of which we are still working on.

    First off, he doesn't like to be alone at all. If I left him uncrated, he destroyed my apartment, and when I crated him, he would scream for hours. One of the things I've done is that I have a few old t-shirts that I rotate in his crate. I'll sleep in one and then I put it in his crate so he has something that smells like me when I leave. I used to do the same thing with an old sheet: sleep on it, then put it in his kennel, and wash it every few days. It was his, so he could shred it if he wanted, but he finally shredded it to the point I had to throw it away. Having another dog around helped so much. When we were staying with my parents, they have a dog, and once they got used to each other I was able to leave Cody uncrated as long as Moe was with him. No anxiety, no destruction. I crate Cody now in our new home because he doesn't get along with the resident chihuahua, and he does fine because his dachshund girlfriend will stay in the room with him to keep him company (outside the crate). When I'm home, he still follows me from room to room, but we also just moved last month, so I think once he gets used to the house, he will settle down. It took him about 2 months to get comfortable last time.

    Besides crate anxiety and separation anxiety, he's still an anxious boy. Noises scare him, other dogs' barking scare him, vibrations, etc. Lots of things set him off, and he will pace and whine for hours. Once he was so scared by low-flying helicopters that he jumped and cleared our fence. This kind of anxiety we are still working on. One of the things that has helped is when he first starts to get worked up, I'll give him a massage. I start with his cheeks, up to his ears, his neck, front legs, and so on. It's a slow process, but it works for Cody. The other thing, and probably one of the best mini-investments I made, is DAP by Comfort Zone. I got the infuser, and I really can tell a difference in him. I was reluctant to buy it because of the price and I was worried it wouldn't work, but it was worth it. He still has anxiety issues, but they aren't as bad as they were 6 months ago.

    As for playing, just give him time. I had Cody for about 4 or 5 months before he learned what play was. He knew how to chase me and how to destroy/defluff toys, but he didn't understand play. Finally one night he initiated a game of tug-o-war with me. I was so excited that I was in tears.

    If you've only had him for a little less than 2 weeks, everything still new to him. He probably still needs a lot of reassurance.

    I hope that helps though.
    Good luck!

  • First Basenji's

    Okay, I made the mistake of reading about the tapeworms during dinner. The description of the "Basenji burrito" was quite amusing though…

    I agree that it's going to take some time, but just because he has separation anxiety now, two weeks after going through some pretty MAJOR life changes to be with you, doesn't mean he's going to be just as anxious two months from now. If you're seeing improvement of even minutes within days, just imagine what you'll see even further down the road.

    After a HUGE international and cross-continental move, my Shiba had some pretty bad separation anxiety. He wasn't destructive, but he was howling, and since we lived right next door to the landlord, this was a problem that we had to nip in the bud...

    We trained him by repeatedly leaving the house and coming back, going through these drills for thirty minutes to two hours a day. Starting small, exiting the door for 30 seconds (giving a verbal cue), then coming right back. Then building up to a minute, two, five, etc.

    We figured we had the problem resolved when we were able to leave the house for an hour. We'd give a verbal cue that we were leaving, let him hear us go down the steps outside the apartment, and then quietly sit down on the stairwell and read/do whatever. That way, we were within earshot in case he started howling, so we'd know.

    One thing we made sure to do was not to return while he was howling. As far as I could tell, it wasn't continuous. It'd come in bursts, going for a couple minutes at a time, pause, then a couple more minutes. I do have to admit that there was one time early on when he started howling and did NOT seem inclined to stop. What I did then was I lurked outside the door while my partner tromped down the stairwell... when he started howling, I quickly threw open the door, startling him, told him NO (he was sitting right there), and quickly closed the door again. It actually worked! He remained quiet for five whole minutes after that... Now, I'm not sure if that was because I gave away that I was just outside the door. But this correction really did make the rest of our exercises much easier, and I didn't have to "surprise" him like that again.

    After we settled into a routine, things became easier as well. For us, it WAS an issue of our dog being uncertain not just about our absence but also his new environment, so it might be similar to Sebastian's case. If your goal is to help him become more self-sufficient, a regimen like this might work. Maybe you could crate or pen him in one room while you do something in another room for a while, instead of going in/out of the house.


    Another thing I've recently been using, for another issue (OCD licking of paws, but also related to anxiety) is anti-anxiety drops. Many rescuers sing the praises of Rescue Remedy. Ingredients: impatiens, star of bethlehem, cherry plum, rock rose, clematis. I'm using a similar product with different ingredients, Homeopet Anxiety drops. Ingredients: Chamomilia, Valeriana, Borax (which I understand is alarming to see on a list of ingredients, but it's supposed to be okay here?), Cypripedium Pub., Ignatia A., Colch. Verat. A. Both seem kind of pricey for the tiny little vial that you get ($10-$15 for 10 to 20 mL), but since you're only supposed to be using drops at a time, it goes a long way. You mentioned that your budget for over-the-counter medications is limited, but I just wanted to give you some options.

  • Borax (http://www.naturopathydigest.com/nutrition_herbs/herbs/borax.php) is actually used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It can be taken internally in moderation.

    Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic that I've used on myself as well as multiple animals including birds. I love the stuff.

  • well i took sebastian to my daughters this afternoon to meet winston who was the family japanese chin til my daughter moved out and took him with her. winston loved maya my basenji but is absolutely crazed when it comes to other dogs. if on lead and he sees another dog he will go mad and bite anything he comes into contact with which includes whoever is walking him, fear based aggression i believe,
    after some absolute madness winston and sebastian ended up sitting on the couch chewing bones together. so the next plan is to
    get them together more often and see if sebastians anxiety can be cured by simply having a companion dog in the house. i have to say though that sebastian does seem to be improving daily so maybe the whole anxiety/ licking thing is from the month in the shelter and will go away after a few more weeks πŸ™‚
    i appreciate all the ideas and support, being home all the time with sebastian next to me 24/7 has been a bit difficult and this forum has helped to make it a little easier,
    so thanks to all!

  • Since he is older, I would have a complete thyroid test done, not just a t4 and an eye exam done by an opthalmologist. Could he be having pain from arthritis, a previous injury, etc.?

    What kind of crate are you using? Some dogs prefer a larger wire one which is more open while others prefer the travel kind-plastic. You may have to put him on Clomicalm or similar medication but it must be used in conjunction with therapy/training.

    He may have been attacked when he was a stray so he may not like certain dogs in regards to color, size, sex, etc.

    I have found that Basenjis do not do well in shelters or places where there are a lot of barking dogs.


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