You sound like you may be up to the job, he sounds fearful which may well be because of his prior experiences. A thunder shirt might help and is at least worth trying.
Exercise will help but obviously sounds like you will need to limit and be careful with it. A short leash and let him know that you lead and are in control.
“It breaks my heart to see him suddenly look so terrified”
Don’t let it, he will feed off your emotion. If you anticipate something it will likely happen and you will have a feedback loop. I know it’s very easy to say this and much harder to achieve it.
The treats will work but not when he is in a high state of anxiety or excitement. When they are like that the #1 thing that helps is distraction.
The longer you have him, the more he will look to you for leadership and trust you. It’s likely to take a while.
Having been a 'dog person' all my life I decided to get a dog after starting a family with my wife. Tried the local shelters but couldn't find a dog that I felt was 'right'.
My first B came from a pet store, I knew nothing about Basenjis and the owner said they are great dogs, good with kids and very loyal etc, he came with an AKC pedigree. I figured he would be great as he had a pedigree.
Many years later I found out by research he came from a puppy mill in Kansas. His health was problematic after the first two years, he was also prone to pancreatitis. At six years old he developed diabetes, with the constant testing, insulin and needles. It worked out around $2000 a year for five years until he passed at eleven, so around $10,000. Still, I didn't really care so much about the money as he was such a good dog. The constant care was hard, he needed monitoring almost 24/7 as he was a brittle diabetic and his sugar was hard to control. Many late nights staying up late and every morning was early to test him.
He coped with it well although I know he did not like the injections sometimes, we got different size needles which helped and became experts at injections. Still, I would wish no dog to have to go through that.
Our other two Basenjis we got from a reputable breeder, our oldest is ten in a few days and has been very healthy her whole life. She is showing elevated liver enzymes now on routine blood work but shows no other symptoms. Our youngest is three and is also very healthy.
So, to me it seems insane to buy any basenji without full health testing and from a reputable breeder.
I find most problems like this are avoided if you tell visitors to ignore the dogs completely. I have had an assertive dog and a fearful aggressive dog. With both the answer was to ignore them and not try to pet them at all. Usually the dogs will become curious sooner or later and then they can pet them.
@basenji_life hips and eyes should have records too. Other breeders on here will let you know the sites. I think it’s OFA? Orthopedic Animal foundation or something. You want a well tested and healthy dog from a good breeder, not all are of the same standards. I found that out with my first basenji, he was from a pet store and was not very healthy throughout his life. I learned you do a little more research, find a good breeder and pay a little more at the start. Or you will likely pay much more when they are older and have health problems. At that stage, when you are attached to the dog, if you are like me...then you will pay and do whatever is necessary. In my case it ran over $10,000 so it makes the start look cheap and very wise.
So sorry for your loss and I know it is a deep one, I feel your pain. We lost our basenji Suzy of nearly 12 years last Wednesday. Our other Basenji is missing her but adjusting better than we are. I lost my original Basenji in 2013 and it took a long time before anything felt normal again. People tell me I did a wonderful job of giving her a great life and I believe it. Yet somehow, no matter what you do for these furry little friends, it is never enough to repay the love and bond they give you.
@basenji_life Already good suggestions. Just to add, his reaction may be feeding the behaviour. When she doesn’t want him to pet her, then have him immediately ignore her.
My first two dogs didn’t like strangers, however they warmed quickly when ignored. The more a new person would try to pet them, the more they would be suspicious. It’s a little reverse psychology, I think often when someone is trying hard the dogs pick up on that but view it as suspicious or threatening.
I tell all visitors to ignore the dogs completely, then they become curious and before you know it they want attention. If they try to pet them, then they become suspicious and feel threatened.
Often with my dogs, they want to be petted but “their way” lol. Sometimes I will pet their back and they get all annoyed because they want their chest petting. Most times I don’t care but once in a while I will tell them go away then lol. Then I get the offended look lol.
Basenjis are very different and do have quirks!
Growling is only the first step, if not corrected it will get worse.
I never attempt to touch a dog that is growling, as the top dog you should never do that. Try telling her to get down but do not attempt to touch or grab, it may take a few minutes but is worth it.
The top dog never has to do more than persuade the lower dogs, nor do they try.
If that does not work, leave her collar on with a leash of maybe four to five feet in length. When she settles you can then grab the leash when it is bed time and gently pull her off using the leash.
With Basenjis determination, a positive attitude (you are going to move) and stubbornness work best (you are going to move no matter how long this takes).
At one year she is challenging you somewhat, it is very common once they are adult between one and five years old. Never scold her or get annoyed, just be calm, determined and stubborn.
Also consider more walks, chasing squirrels in your yard is excercise but the walks you take her on should be long (at least two thirty minute walks a day) and structured. When she chases squirrels in the yard she is the leader, when you walk her you are the leader.
Yes you can be unlucky with anything, but doing everything you can to ensure a healthy dog should be the top priority.
My girl has had blood work every year just as routine after my firsts problems. She has no symptoms, we just caught it on the yearly two years ago she slightly elevated, last year she was more elevated.
We first started just Nutramax denamarin, three months later it made no difference to her readings.
We switched her to Dr Dobs detox diet and Nutramax denamarin, went back after three months and her levels went up!
So now we have her on regular food, denamarin in the morning, milk thistle in the afternoon and twice daily 1000mg of fish oil.
Due to go back in February and see if that works. If not we will probably have to ultrasound. All her other blood work is normal so that is a good thing.