A natural part of owning any dog is leaving them alone. It’s inevitable, to some extent. But what about the basenji breed specifically. Do they respond well to being left alone, and can/should you even do so for any length of time? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know if you own one of these dogs.
So, can Basenjis be left alone? Basenji dogs can be left alone, but they are social and family dogs who do best with their people. Eight hours is considered the upper limit for time away for the average adult, although it may be much shorter than this for young Basenji puppies and should not be done on a regular basis.
Basenjis can be destructive when they’re left alone, so you are going to need to be really mindful about when and where you leave them.
It is for this reason that crate training is strongly advised, particularly if they are still puppies.
Talking of puppies, at what age can you start leaving a basenji alone?
Let’s get into it before exploring how to appropriately step away should the need arise.
At What Age Can You Start Leaving Your Basenji Alone?
The younger your Basenji is, the less time he can spend alone: you can start small with an hour when he’s very young. You won’t want to leave your Basenji any longer than 6 to 8 hours at a time, and even then, not until he’s more than 6 months old.
How Long Your Basenji Can Be Alone According to His Age
Here’s a guide to the ages at which you can start leaving your Basenji alone for short periods:
- 1 hour at a time when he’s under 10 weeks old
- 2 hours at a time once he’s 10 to 12 weeks old
- 3 hours once he’s 3 months old
- 4 hours at 6 months old
- 5 hours at 5 months old
- 6 hours at 6 months old
- 6 to 8 hours maximum once he’s more than 6 months old
Factors to Consider When Leaving Your Basenji Alone
There are several things to remember when leaving your Basenji alone:
- Dogs need to urinate often, especially when they’re puppies. A puppy can’t hold his bladder for more than an hour at 10 weeks old. The times given above correspond to how long your puppy can go without needing a toilet break.
- Even older dogs shouldn’t be alone for much longer than six to eight hours without a chance to have a bathroom break.
- Crate training is essential for all puppies, not just for Basenjis so that they can get used to being alone in a safe space.
How Long Can Basenjis Be Left Alone?
Although Basenjis don’t like being away from their people, you can leave most adult Basenjis alone for between 6-8 hours at a time. Some Basenjis are less independent, however, in which case the ideal time would be closer to four hours. Puppies need to get used to being alone over shorter periods, not only because of their lack of bladder control but because they are used to spending time with their littermates and mother.
When Inside Your Home
Regardless of how long your Basenji is alone in your home, he will need plenty of things to occupy him (see below.)
Generally speaking, older dogs can be left alone for slightly longer periods than younger dogs, as they are used to their own company.
Senior dogs don’t have as much excess energy to burn and are less likely to become destructive when alone.
However, each dog is different, and some senior dogs may still need to urinate frequently.
Going home for lunch or having someone come to your home to let your dog out for a toilet break and a play is generally a good idea for Basenjis, who are highly intelligent dogs.
They are always thinking, and if you don’t provide them with things to occupy their minds while you’re away, they’ll come up with all kinds of alternatives that you might not approve of!
When Your Basenji Is Outside
If you have a yard or another kind of outdoor space, you cannot leave your Basenji alone there, even for a minute. Basenjis are excellent escape artists with a high prey drive.
Your Basenji could jump over a six-foot fence to chase and even kill a neighborhood cat or another animal.
Basenjis can also climb: some have been known to climb trees! They are also avid diggers, so they can quickly burrow underneath fences.
Basenjis love being outdoors, but these clever dogs must always be supervised when outside.
Do Basenjis Get Separation Anxiety?
It’s fairly common for Basenjis to suffer from separation anxiety, more so than with other dog breeds. You may find your Basenji engages in lots of chewing, loud howling (they don’t bark but they can be very vocal), or ‘accidents’ on carpets or furniture when he’s left on his own.
There are several things that can cause separation anxiety in all dogs, including Basenjis:
- Being given to a shelter or abandoned
- Coming into a new family (being adopted)
- A sudden change in schedule or routines
- Being left alone for longer periods all of a sudden
Although Basenjis can be prone to separation anxiety, there are some things you can do to help your dog adjust to being alone.
You’ll need to teach your dog that when you leave, you will always come back to him.
Here are the steps to follow to help prevent separation anxiety in your Basenji:
- Open the door, walk a few feet out the door, and come back in again
- Open the door, walk to your car, open the car door, close it, and come back inside
- Open the door, go to your car, get in the car and close the door. Open the car door and come back inside
- Open the door, go to your car, get in, close the door and drive around the block. Then come back in again
- Gradually lengthen the amount of time you spend outside
When doing the above steps, you’ll need to:
- Do them several times a day
- Not make a big deal of leaving or coming back
- Start slowly, going at your dog’s pace and only moving on to the next step when he’s ready
If none of the above seems to work for your dog, consider:
- getting the help of a professional dog trainer who specializes in dog behavior
- get another dog for companionship and teach both dogs how to be alone together in the house
- seeking help from your vet
Best Practices When Leaving Your Basenji Alone
Crate Train Your Basenji Puppy
Crate training when your Basenji puppy first comes home with you will go a long way towards making it easier to leave your Basenji alone later on.
Start to crate train your Basenji when you’re still at home. To make it a safe place for him, you can:
- Feed him inside his crate
- Give him special toys that he only gets in the crate
- Play something in the background to ease his anxiety, such as calming music or other sounds
- Have a schedule of toilet breaks and exercise so that your dog knows what to expect and when
Spend Quality Time with Him Before You Go
Before you leave for an extended period of time, make sure you take your Basenji for a long walk. You want him to feel happy and tired so that he will be able to relax when you go.
Basenjis love playing and activities such as agility training, so these are excellent things to do in the mornings as a start to the day.
Provide a Break Halfway Through the Day
If at all possible, come home to your Basenji at lunchtime. If you can’t do this yourself, get a neighbor or hire someone to do this for you.
It will help your Basenji tremendously if he can have a lunchtime walk or play with a friend to tire him out for the afternoon.
Make Sure Your Basenji Is Occupied
There are lots of ways to keep your Basenji occupied while you’re out:
- You can give your Basenji a job to do while you’re gone, even by telling him, “Watch the house!”
- Basenjis love watching the outside world, too, so make sure he has a window seat to observe the goings-on in the neighborhood.
- Provide special toys such as Kong balls filled with peanut butter or dog-friendly puzzle toys. Hide food in puzzle toys so that your Basenji has to work hard to get out treats or bits of dog kibble.
- Leave the TV or radio on, or try a YouTube channel specifically for dogs (there are lots to choose from.)
Basenji-Proof Your Home
Your Basenji won’t be in a crate all day – he’ll need space to roam while you’re gone, so it’s crucial to dogproof your home:
- Lock away anything potentially hazardous such as cleaning products, antifreeze, and other chemicals
- Keep the toilet seat down, or better yet, shut the bathroom door (securely) to keep your Basenji out.
- Don’t leave your Basenji in the yard: he’ll dig craters if left alone outside!
- Hide away tissues, plastic (including pens), laundry, shoes, or anything else your Basenji might like to munch on
- Lock away the trash or put it up very high
If you’re very nervous about leaving your dog alone, or you want to know what he gets up to, consider putting in a dog camera.
Dog cameras can provide both peace of mind and entertainment!
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Basenji dogs can be left alone, but when and how long, well, that will come down to the individual dog in question and the context.
It’s certainly true that some Basenjis can be left for longer than others. It’s also true that some really don’t like their families stepping away.
Only you will be able to know for sure what an appropriate time away is.
But do follow the general recommendations and be sure to do all you can in advance to ensure your basenji is safe and occupied while you do spend some time away.
Have other questions about Basenjis? My other guides may be what you are looking for:
- How Big Do Basenji Dogs Get? [Average Size Guide]
- Are Basenji Dogs Aggressive? [Breed Temperament Guide]
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.