Basenji Companions

Devoted to Basenjis as Pets

Welcoming Your New Family Member


A happy Basenji puppy in the arms of a beaming small child.

Your new puppy or adopted Basenji will probably be a member of your family until age 10-15 years, and your adventure is about to begin. The following checklist will help ease your Basenji’s transition:


Because of the Basenji’s intelligence, inquisitiveness and lifelong tendency to chew when anxious or bored, your Basenji should be crate-trained for times when you can’t supervise him. Uncrated Basenjis have been known to “trash” a house when left alone unsupervised, and you wouldn’t want your pet to chew electric cords or get into the cleanser and hurt himself.

Crating should never be used as punishment. I would recommend the airline-approved Vari-Kennel—at least 300-size or an equivalent-sized open wire crate where they can see everything that is going on around them (Basenjis are nosey.) Personally, I prefer the open-wire crates.

Put a heavy, piece of “sherpa cloth” (fake lambs’ wool), a small army blanket or crate pad in the crate for comfort, and wash it once a week.

I get my B’s to race to the crates when I say, “cookies-crate!” (Cookies are Charlee Bear treats.) Turn on the radio for company when you leave; most of the time they will nap.

If you must be gone for long hours, try to come home midday, get a dog walker, take them to doggie day care, or get them a buddy and very gradually train them to be loose in the house alone. Let them sleep with you at night to increase their out-of-crate time.

Safe, Enclosed, “Basenji-Proofed” Area

This area needs to be within sight of the family’s living space for the dog to spend most of his first days. (Think “baby-proofing.”) The crate should be placed in this area. The kitchen is the most common space chosen, with plastic “kiddie-gates” placed at all entrances.

After your Basenji is reliably housebroken, add a room at a time to the space allowed for freedom. If accidents occur, go back to the last, smaller area. Consider “umbilical cording” while housebreaking.

Schedule Of When You Will Walk Your Basenji

Walk or let him out in your secure, fenced-in yard to relieve himself. To facilitate housebreaking, it is best to start with a regular schedule from the very first day (every 2-3 hours for a puppy or 3-4 hours for an adopted dog).

Note: Nothing short of a 6-foot chain-link fence will dependably contain a determined, climbing, jumping, or digging Basenji. Basenjis should not be allowed off leash unless they are enclosed in a fenced-in yard. A loose Basenji in pursuit is very determined and may become “deaf as a post.” He probably won’t even hear you, and can run heedlessly in front of a car.

Schedule of Feeding

Check with your breeder or adoption contact for recommendations on diet, supplements, and feeding times. Be sure to always have fresh water available.

Leash & Collar

The collar can be a nylon martingale-type like the Premier or “no-slip” martingale collars, a “No-pull” halter, or a sturdy buckle collar. Be sure to use collars on your Basenji only when going outside, and take it off indoors. Leashes for walking and training should be six-feet. A 26-foot Flexi-leash allows a 52-foot running radius and reels in and out automatically for use in open spaces.

Appointment With a Veterinarian

Schedule and appointment with a Veterinarian for an initial checkup. Puppies and adopted dogs will come with a list of the vaccinations they have received and further recommendations. A brief health history and a spay/neuter certificate (if available) may be given with your adopted Basenji.

Town License

Once you have gotten your rabies certificate and tag, and have a spay/neuter certificate for an older dog, go to your town hall and get a town dog license. This must renewed yearly.


Softer plastic toys are not advisable, as your Basenji will probably destroy them in no time at all and may swallow the pieces. Cow hooves can splinter, and rawhides and sometimes Greenies can be swallowed in large pieces.

Chew toys such as Y-shaped Nylabones, long nylon bones, sterilized bones that you can stuff with creamed cheese, cheese or peanut butter, are good choices. Although a bit more expensive, my B’s love the antler pieces and have not chewed them up nearly as fast. Soft, sherpa-cloth “chew-men” toys with squeaks in them are great favorites, although Basenjis may want to tear out the stuffing and “kill” the squeak. Sturdy balls or tennis balls are good—Basenjis love to chase them but are not always good at bringing them back. Buster Cubes are fun.

Copyright © 2013 by Betsy Polglase
All rights reserved.

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