When our cockapoo died after 15 years, my wife wanted a lap dog so I saw an advertisement in craigslist for chihuahua puppies, and even though I do not particularly care for them, my wife was delighted when I brought home this litlle 4 lb 8 week old "chihuahua"!! Right away we noticed that this was a strange dog. It was scared of it's own shadow, it would not make a sound, it would not eat, it would tear up anything it could get it;s razor sharp teeth on and of course it would pop in the house no matter how we tried to house break it. Little by little the dog, now christened "Harry", started to look "not like a "chihuahua" and gained weight so quickly that I was beginning to think that he had a secret stash of cookies hidden somewhere because he certainly wasn't eating anything we gave him. Oh and the lady that sold him to us on craigslist disappeared!! HA!! Harry would not eat, would not let us touch him, would not come into a room if anything was moved out of it's original place, (such as a chair, or ottoman, or wall clock...seriously). Sometimes he would just sit and stare and no amount of calling to him or screaming at him affected him at all. After research we figured out that Harry was "not" a chihuahua but a basenji or a basenji mix...heavy on the basenji. (We also determined he is a bit autistic...and I am not kidding...as I think maybe some of the people reading this may have a slightly autistic dog also!) So to boil it down: he chewed everything except food. he pooped everywhere except outside. he was standoffish. could not hug him. scared of everything. acted autistic. He doesn't like other people or other animals. he loves to butt bump and sit on you, especially your head (which sucks since he is about 27 lbs), and loves to burrow under covers or anything he can burrow under.
My wife was at her wits end with him and I was at my wits end with her. She wanted to get rid of him but I figured we should give him a chance or that is to say 100 chances. Well, what I finally figured out was that Harry was first of all "really smart". If i showed him a trick or showed him how to do something, he would do it right off. I also figured out he responded to being spoken to in a very specific way. You couldn't yell or scream or raise your voice at him. That did absolutely nothing. But...if you sat next to him and spoke to him like you were speaking to a little child and let him know how disappointed you were that he just pooped on the floor and that he needs to poop outside because it isn't nice and it upsets daddy.....well then Harry doesn't poop in the house anymore. What we found out was that (as I mentioned earlier) if there was anything changed outside the doggy door then Harry doesn't want to go outside, or should I say he is scared to go outside, and will poop inside. Even after 4 years, he will still do this once in awhile when something outside scares him, such as a tree branch that fell in the backyard, or when I moved a plastic yard chair and forgot to put it back in it's original spot. He always goes up to the doggy door and scours the backyard before he goes out. He will never just go straight out without looking and usually wants me to take him out. He will go to the doggy door, look out, turn around and look at me saying, daddy...you gonna take me out?,, so then I will get up and he will start jumping up and down with excitement. (btw: he is about 26-28 lbs). We finally got his diet down to duck jerky and peanut butter, and iced tea and an occasional ensure drink. He sometimes eats old dried out chicken but it "has" to be 3-4 days old and dry a a bone. We have tried to get him to eat everything and anything and it boils down to that stuff. (once in a while he will surprise us and take a bite of something we are eating but he will only eat one bite and then once again he is disinterested. (it's so funny watching my wife and I squealing with delight when Harry tries something new as if he was a baby taking his first step or speaking his first word!! Ha!!)
Anyway, this might work for some, might not for others:
-talk to your basenji like you would talk with a child. Not baby doggy talk, but be sincere, empathetic and calm. (i would say, "Harry, I am dissapointed that you pooped in the house")
-don't move stuff around whether it is in your house or outside, and if you do, put it back where it was at.
-don't let his/her standoffishness hurt your feelings. that is how they are and it is not personal
-they need love
Harry went from a destructive , poopy, crazy, scared dog to a scared, smart and loving dog who I have got to admit...everyday is a challenge but fun and wouldn't change the last 4 years!!
also, i want to add that Harry was crate trained for a while and also exhibited the nasty and infamous basenji chewing up anything not nailed down. We would take him with us in the car when we had to go somewhere like the grocery store or our doctor appt etc., but Harry positively hated to be in a moving vehicle and constantly proved it by puking in the car every time. Every time!! We would make it as comfortable as possible but it would not matter. We started leaving him in his cage but felt so bad about that because we were afrais that if there was a fire he would be trapped so we decided to leave him in the den room the next time we had to go out together. I talked with Harry the night before and told him that tomorrow daddy and mommy had to go bye bye. Man! His ears shot down and he looked like someone had just told him he was a bad boy! I said, "No Harry, you don't have to go, you can stay here." The next day before we left, I sat down with Harry and told him that mommy and daddy were going to the doctor and we would be back and that Harry could stay right here on the couch. we left, came back about 4 hours later fully expecting to find firewood and cotton batting everywhere but all we found was Harry peacefully sitting on the couch and happy as all get out that we were now home. So basenjis can learn not to destroy....at least Harry has learned. We have left him several times since and he has behaved like a gentlman. Like I said earlier...Harry responds well to sitting down and talking with him rationally.
Thanks everyone for the replies: first let me say that we tried every food training trick in the book. Putting food down for approx: 15 to 20 minutes and the picking it up if he hadn't touched it. He would not eat the food. Not even after 3 days. So after a few times doing that and trying every dog food we could find from raw meat to cooked meat to the highest priced dog food to the cheapest we could not get Harry to eat anything except what I mentioned in my post. This was over a period of months.He will go for days and not eat "anything "put before him. Finally we gave in. Yes I know it sounds crazy and irresponsible but we have wasted more food on Harry than we have bought for our own consumption.Harry is not consistent in what he decides to eat. He might decide to eat "A" 3 days in a row and then on the fourth day, he won't go near it. Then he will eat "B" and do that for a day and not again for 3 weeks. Then "A" again for a day and then "C" and the nothing tickles his fancy. Believe me we have done everything but force food down his throat. Also, we never yelled at Harry because of him pooping in the house or anything. What I was trying to say is he will go into these ...I don't know what to call them...fits or something where he will sit down and look at a specific spot on the wall and just stare and nothing affects him. You can scream t the top of your lungs, bang cymbals right next to his head, but he doesn't hear you or see you. It is as though he is not there. This will go on for about 3 to 5 minutes and then "boop" he just snaps out of it and goes about his business as though nothing happened. Which is also why I mentioned autism which is recognized in dogs, as he exhibits many traits such as the one above, not responding to his name, not wanting to cuddle, has to have things orderly like food and toys, and much more strange behavior. Please do not feel I am denigrating anyone with autism. Now I am pushing 60 years old and I have owned dogs all of my life. All of my dogs have been well trained by me and all have had long lives. Harry is the weirdest, strangest, craziest, goofiest dog I have ever had the pleasure of living with. And..he loves taking baths...or at least he is very cool letting me bath him and doesn't give me a hard time. But try to clip his nails and he will rip through the muzzle to bite your face. Anyway.... thanks all for the tips. I will look up the Stellas and see if he will try it.
Let me preface this by saying I have owned dogs all my life and many different breeds. I am now almost 60 years old and have never come across a dog such as Harry.
Vets and others are starting to recognize that dogs "can" have autism. There are many websites now that talk about it. Harry has been like this since we got him at around 2 months old.
As I stated in a previous post, my wife wanted a Chihuahua and I found Harry at a Florida breeder who told me he was a Chihuahua. He kinda looked like one at 8 weeks. Same basic shape, only 5 lbs, pointy ears, but curly tail. Heck, looked like one to me! So from day 1, Harry was put offish, would not eat, was scared of "everything" and everyone, jumped at "any" sound, did not bark or hardly make any sound. Liked to burrow under anything like a fox and cleaned his legs like a cat. He would freak out if anything was moved around the house. (IE. if you moved a chair a couple of feet to the right or left while he was out of the room, when he came back he refused to enter the room until the offending item was put back into it's original spot.)He suffers no body to enter our house, even if he knows them and has seen them a hundred times. (He has since learned how to bark, since I forced him to go for walks and he would hear other dogs barking. But for the first year or so he did not bark but would make weird noises. Now he will bark at a falling leaf or a car...to him their all out to get him!!) He hates going outside for walks and only goes out if he has to poop (and even that took over a year or so to train him to do that.) He pukes every time if in a car. He does not wag his tail, nor is he cuddly . (He does not like being held or cuddled)
His diet consists of...duck jerky and sometimes chicken jerky, one bottle of vanilla nutritional shake, and sweet iced tea. Once on a while we are able to "force" him to eat other stuff but we have to physically force his mouth open and push the food in his mouth. He struggles the whole time to keep from eating what we put in his mouth and at 32 pounds, he is strong and muscular plus he has no problem biting you to make his point that he does not want to eat what you are offering. (Don't get me wrong, he is not violent or aggressive, he just is very resolved to do what he wants and not what you want. He will not come to you when called, but always acts as if you have a knife behind your back and are going to stab him if he comes to you. He will usually do the opposite of what you command. Say "come here" and he runs away. You say "let's go for a walk", and he runs and hides. You try to get him to eat and he gets up and goes into his cage. When he does eat or drink, he has to sit in a specific place and turned a specific way or he will not eat or drink. He uses the doggy door but every 3rd time he wants to go out to poop he wants you to open the door. Plus, before he goes out doggy door, he spends a few minutes scanning the backyard for potential zombies or something before he will go out. Half of the time he spots something that makes him change his mind (such as a beetle walking by or a piece of grass laying next to the door) and he will not go out.
That is just some of his issues. It took my wife and I almost 3 years to figure out his idiosyncrasies and conform our lives around him.
Now it seems like I am saying Harry is an awful dog, but he is a really sweet and lovable dog. You just can't expect any love or tail wagging like other dogs. He is pretty emotionless. He is smart as a whip and you can teach him any trick and he can do it in ten seconds flat, but he gets bored easily and won't do the tricks unless he gets something he wants out of it. He will tell you if he wants something. There are certain places he sits for certain things. He turns his head a certain way to say he wants other things. I truly am amazed at how intelligent he is, so it is a trade off.
Well, I guess my point of this rant is just to tell you...if you have a baby like Harry and he/she is driving you out of your mind....just be patient and as loving as you possibly can. Try different things and as they say...think outside the box when dealing with autistic dogs or dogs with dysfunctional syndromes. Try not to get mad at them. Don't let their lack of emotions and lack of love toward you keep you from loving them. I have included this autism diagnosis from mayo clinic. The same criteria are for dogs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in people is based on two key criteria:
Impairments in social communication and social interaction. For example:
-Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times
(i mentioned Harry does this)
-Resists cuddling and holding and seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her own world
(Harry still after 4 years resists cuddling)
-Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
(Harry gets scared if you look him in the eyes and will run away)
-Doesn't speak or has delayed speech, or may lose previous ability to say words or sentences
(Harry did no make a sound (bark)for almost a year)
-Can't start a conversation or keep one going, or may only start a conversation to make requests or label items
-Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
(Harry doesn't bark like most dogs. When he does it is one bark at a time)
-May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn't understand how to use them
-Doesn't appear to understand simple questions or directions
(It took Harry years to understand basic commands that I have taught every other dog in days!)
-Doesn't express emotions or feelings and appears unaware of others' feelings
(that is Harry)
-Doesn't point at or bring objects to share interest
-Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive, or disruptive
(He is aggressive to any person or dog he sees except us)
-Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, such as:
Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning, or hand-flapping, or may perform activities that could cause harm, such as head-banging
(believe it or not....getting hairballs from cleaning himself all over, but has specific places and positions he must be in to eat or drink. )
-Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
(Harry has a routine for everything and gets upset if his routines are disturbed)
Harry never stops moving. He is either sleeping or moving. He can't seem to sit in one spot for more than a few moments before he gets up and walks around and then sits back down somewhere else and then....it goes on
-May be uncooperative or resistant to change
(This is an understatement as you cannot make any changes, in his food, his enviroment anything. It scares the you know what out of him. Even slight changes he can sense and will become upset)
-Has problems with coordination or has odd movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes, and has odd, stiff, or exaggerated body language
(gotta say no to this)
-May be fascinated by details of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car, but doesn't understand the "big picture" of the subject
(Harry is both fascinated and scared of "everything")
-May be unusually sensitive to light, sound, and touch, and yet oblivious to pain
(Harry is extremely sensitive to touch. You can see his muscles jumping under his skin when you touch him. Even if you are petting him for awhile, it is almost as if every touch is a surprise and tickle to him.)(also he has hypersensitivity to sound. Every little noise bothers him. Makes a good watch dog though.
-Does not engage in imitative or make-believe play
(Harry is the only dog I have had that does not like to play, and doesm't wag his tail)
-May become fixated on an object or activity with abnormal intensity or focus
(Harry gets fixated on things that I have no idea what they are...and he will just stare at something, sometimes for 3 to 5 minutes)
-May have odd food preferences, such as eating only a few foods, or eating only foods with a certain texture
(As I said earlier, Harry eats only specific things. Duck Jerky, vanilla nutritional drink, iced tea, peanut butter. (has since stopped peanut butter)He will occasionally take a bite of something we are eating but becomes disinterested almost immediately.)
I know some of you reading this last part will think I am a bad parent but let me tell you it has taken us 4 years to get him to eats this. Our last dog who passed away at home after 15 years from heart failure had his food made by us. We would cook a beef roast and add all kinds of vegetables and fruits and vitamins. Cody CocaCola Boy (our cockerpoo) loved his food. It was labor intensive but we knew what was in his food because we made it and he loved it. We tried this with Harry and Harry would not look twice at any food we made for him. Believe you me I wish Harry would eat food that is better for him, but he will not.
Harry exhibits almost every characteristic. That is why I say he acts autistic. Am saying nothing bad about autistic persons or dogs.