The easy way is hardly ever the fun way.
Well, I'll try to answer all the questions and I do apologize if this answer is delayed. It sometimes takes almost 2 weeks for my posts to show up here.
Hooligan just turned 2 years old and we've had him for about 2 months.
I have been in contact with his breeder, and she was the one who initially told me that he doesn't get along well with other dogs (which is why he needed to go to a home with no other dogs) and she also told us he had some separation anxiety. So we didn't go into this blind, but I do want to work to make him as happy as possible in his new home.
I did try for myself his reaction to other dogs, just out walking with neighbors, stopping into Petco, visiting the dog park and meeting my parent's dog. If any other dog approaches him, he grows and his hackles go up, and if they get within range, he snaps. So far (and I haven't checked everything yet) the places I've looked at for obedience training and daycare require that the dogs not be aggressive towards other dogs. So, I am also looking for dog-sitting/daycare options for when we go away for more than a few hours and can't take him along.
It's been so ridiculously cold around here that even with a coat and boots, he doesn't want to be outside for too long, and there are only so many games that can be played in the house. It's likely he's a little squirrely from being inside. We try to take advantage of the better days and go for long excursions on those days. He's had a lot of fun ice fishing with my husband, especially when he has a cozy, specially-made shanty cubby he can curl up in when he gets chilled! I'm looking forward to warmer days for sure!
He's really not destructive at all unless he's left alone, or he's not sure what's going on. I think we had still been getting into a schedule and with the chaos of holidays, plus surgery I think some of the blanket-eating was because he just wasn't sure what was going on and what he was expected to do. Possibly…. that's just a guess. But now that we have a more reliable schedule, he seems perfectly happy as long as he's part of whatever we're doing - either if we're playing or practicing commands or even if he's "supervising" what we're up to.
He seems to like his crate, too! This is a new update! He now knows the command "crate" and he will go in and sit down when we ask him. Sometimes he just hangs out in there or naps during the day. So i'm glad it's not crate anxiety and it's just that he doesn't want to be left by himself. I do tend to agree with you, Buddys Pal about the basement. Yes, it's roomier, and really it's not much different than is kennel at the breeders, but it's still a basement. And he seems to at least like his crate, so right now, we are taking him along whenever possible, leaving him in his crate if we're gone for just a few hours, and we're having Josh's parents dogsit him if we're going to be gone longer than that. We visit them often, so he knows and likes them and I feel good about leaving him with people he knows.
Also, bully stick update: I discovered a different store that sold the giant ones and those last much longer. Still not something I'd leave him alone with, but something fun for him to have anyway.
Does anyone have any other suggestions for toys/treats he can tear apart, but that are safe to eat? Or toys that wouldn't be tempting to eat but are still fun to play with? We're still trying to get him some fun, yet safe or edible toys. I think scoring in the toy department would help, too.
Thanks for all the input!!
We've had Hooligan for almost 2 months now and we really love him. We're starting to bond and it has so far been a rewarding experience. There are just a few things we're working out and I wanted to get some advice on how best to proceed.
Issue 1: Hooli doesn't like to be left alone at all. Luckily my husband works from home, so he's rarely left alone, but sometimes we do have to both go out and he gets upset when we do. I know this is pretty common. He whines, then howls/screams and destroys anything he has access to.
Issue 2: Hooli doesn't just destroy things, he eats them. He can't have any plush/fabric toys because he will immediately tear them up and start to consume them. He can't have a bed in his kennel or crate because he'll tear it and eat it. We've already been to the emergency vet for surgery to remove stuff he's eaten, and it was a terrifying experience that I hope never happens again.
I am wondering if there's any way to get him to play with toys, but not EAT them? I don't really mind too much if he tears things up. It seems like fun and I could give him toys to destroy if I didn't have to worry about his safety and getting blocked or punctured insides.
I would also love to let him have the run of the house because he's really a very good boy - very friendly and polite and gentle. I am just concerned about him eating things. He even eats the corners of our blankets at night if we're not careful. We enjoy having him sleep on the bed, and I'd hate to have to confine him at night, but I worry about him eating blankets. So far he's either passed or barfed what he's eaten blanket-wise, but I really don't want to put him through surgery again! Plus it was expensive! Over 3k! I'd do it again in a heartbeat but it can only happen so many times, lol.
We've tried several ways to confine him when we're away. Before we got him, we converted a room in the basement (where Josh's studio is) into a kennel. It is roomy, with 2 walls being the basement itself and the other two chain link with wooden structure and wood to cover the terminal ends of the chain link (so he didn't cut himself). We nicknamed Hooli "The Beaver" after he tore the wood off the chain link, broke it in half and ate a good bit of it. He also chewed partway through the stairs, as the room is right where the stairs come down into the basement. He did this within 3 hours while we were out seeing a movie. We give him things like nylabones and a kong, which he does chew on, but I'm not sure what else to use to possibly keep him better occupied. We tried a bully stick once, but he had it down to a short, potentially dangerous nub within a few minutes and it's not something we can leave him with.
After the kennel debacle, we tried just crating him. He can't really get to anything in the crate, but he sure tries. It's a hard plastic one and he's chewed on it a bit, but doesn't seem to be able to escape or destroy it. I'd prefer of course that he be relaxed and comfy while we're gone. I'd LOVE to give him his bed that he sleeps on, or more toys, but he'd just eat them.
I know some people have suggested getting another dog for separation anxiety, but he doesn't like other dogs at all, so that's not an option for us.
Does anyone have an opinion on kennel vs. crate? I want either one to be positive - his home & refuge, not punishment. I don't want him to dislike going in the basement because of the kennel, because we want to encourage him to go hang out with Josh in the studio. I worry it's colder in the basement, but he'd have more room. I don't know if we should try covering all the wood somehow so he has only chain link, or if we need to buy a separate, fully-enclosed chain link & metal kennel? Or stick with the crate? I feel bad about putting him in the crate. He can stand and turn but it's not that big. It's kind of nice that we can have the crate upstairs anywhere and we have been playing games of find-the-treat with him so he gets to associate the crate with good things and it's not as easy to do that with the kennel. What do you all think?
So, sorry this was such a long post! I just want to see if anyone has any insight on things we can do to make life more pleasant for us and our little Hooli!
Hooligan has been with us for a few days now and he's such a great dog!
I am surprised how calm and loving he is! We are so new to him but he seems to love us anyway. I am surprised how easygoing he is. He didn't complain much when we took him home in the crate in the car, just a few baroos, a woof and a nap the rest of the way. He's not shown any interest in destroying the house (yet!!! fingers crossed) and he's just been a really good boy so far.
He is so sweet and so gentle! He sleeps nice on the bed with us, he does good on his walks, and he even listens pretty well. I am suspicious of all this good behavior, lol!
The only minor trials so far is that he is used to an indoor/outdoor kennel at his breeders and he has not had any set feeding/potty/sleep times. He is used to an automatic feeder and being able to go potty whenever the mood strikes and I'm worried I won't be able to tell if he has to go. He also seems to want to nap a lot during the day and he gets hyper sometimes at bedtime. I think it will just take some time to get a set schedule worked out. This is all very new to all of us.
He is also very apprehensive of going down stairs even though there were stairs at the breeder's house that I personally witnessed him take at top speed. I'm pretty sure this will come in time, too though. He seems to be a very cautious boy, making sure everything is safe before proceeding.
He us such a sweetheart though, and he loves to cuddle! He even did well in his kennel when we both had to run out for a bit.
We're so happy to have him! I will try to get some nice pictures of him to post! He is such a beautiful boy!!!
@Abe: so awesome to meet you! I'd love to hear all about Morris, too!
@Nemo: yes, Laura did actually send me an invite and we'll definitely try to make it! Sounds like great fun and a nice way to meet some fantastic people!
Thanks for the welcome! I do hope Hooligan lives up to his name, lol!
I think we will start with some basic obedience for both myself and Hooligan, but racing sure sounds fun.
It looks like basenjis love to run and if Hooligan can get over his dislike of other dogs, that might be a great way to get some exercise.
We bring him home Dec 8th, so I will post pictures soon after that!
Moth - I'm so glad I found you, too! It will be fun sharing our basenji brothers' stories!