Basenji Crate Training – Can a Basenji be Crate Trained

Let’s look at the all-important issue of Basenji crate training. Can a Basenji be crate trained? This is something a lot of new and would-be owners of Bs ask about our favourite breed. In this post, we are going to address this issue the best way we can and help you to possibly come up with the best answer.

So, can a Basenji be crate trained? Basenjis can definitely be crate trained. It takes a little bit more patience as they can tend to be more difficult to train than other breeds. You need to use a crate that allows them to turn inside the crate but not too big because they will end up doing their business in there.

an owner kisses a tiny Basenji puppy
Kissing an incredibly small Basenji puppy!

Basenjis have a reputation for being hard to train because of their independent nature but it is not impossible for them to be trained. You just need to exercise a lot more patience and have a good sense of humour for the times when they simply don’t want to cooperate with you during training.

This is surely the case when it comes to crate training. It’s not the easiest process for you or them as you will see later on in the article but you simply need to stick to it and do what needs to be done. Now, let’s kick things off by answering a very important question:

Is it Cruel to Crate your Basenji at night?

Depending on your daily schedule, you will either crate your Basenji during the day, night or both. Night crating is usually the most difficult for most to handle because it often means long hours of solitude for your Basenji. Is it humane to keep your Basenji crated throughout the night?

A running Basenji leaping through the air.
A running Basenji leaping through the air. They are FAST!

To answer this question I will first say that you need to start looking at a crate differently. It is not a prison for your Basenji. Rather, it is a safe place for them where they can retreat to anytime they need some alone time away from the activity around the house.

It’s their very own room which belongs to them alone. When you begin to view a crate in this way, it makes it a lot easier for you to transmit this to your Basenji as well until they get to a point where they start seeing their crate in the same way.

Now that we’ve hopefully changed your viewpoint on crating, let’s now look at how to effectively crate train your Basenji.

Can a Basenji be Crate Trained?

Firstly, can a Basenji be crate trained? The answer to that is yes. It will be a little hard though due mainly to how generally hard it is to train Bs. Their general nature and high intelligence levels make them a bit difficult.

Generally speaking, they tend to have a mind of their own and are not as keen to please as other breeds are. In fact, they basically choose if and when to obey you. When they decide that they’ve had enough, they can just disappear into a world of their own and come out when they choose to.

This is really the case when it comes to training of any sort. At the end of the day though, Basenjis can be trained. As stated before, you just need to be a little more patient.

How to Crate Train a Basenji

Let’s look into the process of training a Basenji now, shall we? We will look at training an adult Basenji as well as training a puppy. Though the overall process is more or less the same, you will need to approach it a bit differently for each.

An owner sits with her larger red and white Basenji. Not so small!
An owner sits with her larger red and white Basenji. Not so small!

Crate Training a Basenji Puppy

When you get a puppy from either a breeder or kennel, there are a few obstacles that you will need to navigate in order to successfully train them. Basenji puppies, much like other breeds can only be separated from their mothers at 8 weeks old.

At this point, they can be or would have already been successfully weaned. When you first bring them home, they will have a number of anxieties after being separated from their mother, littermates and familiar environment.

Not only are they trying to get used to you but they are also familiarising themselves with a totally new environment and completely new faces. In the case of a puppy, you want to get them as familiar with their crate as possible.

What this means is that you need to get them accustomed to it right from the very first day they come home. When you pick them up from the breeder or kennel, take the crate with you and inlay it with a nice blanket.

Put them in it during the ride home so that they start to get a little familiar with it.

During the first few days at your house, move them in and out of their crate often. When it’s nighttime, put them in the crate and allow them to spend the night there only taking them out for bathroom breaks.

A Basenji dog has its nails clipped
A Basenji dog has its nails clipped

They will most likely whimper throughout the night but it is important that you don’t give in and bring them to bed with you. This can set you back for a lifetime and you’ll end up having to sleep with them for the rest of their lives.

Some people only use crating as a temporary arrangement while they are housebreaking their B and don’t mind them eventually sleeping in the same room with them. If this is the case, you will not need to be as strict.

If, on the other hand, you want them to get as used to their crate as the place where they spend the night, you will need to be brave and not allow their little whimpers to tug at your heart. You may compromise by bringing the crate to the same room as you or close to the bed.

Another thing that you may implement is to take an item of clothing that you have worn and carries your scent then place this over the crate. This can help calm them down.

It can become a challenge when you live in an apartment building because you can get noise complaints from your neighbors. It makes being brave on your part a lot more difficult because you also have to be considerate of your neighbors.

In such situations, try to keep the crate as close to you as possible during the night and if that fails, you may have to alternate putting them in and taking them out at intervals during the night. It will take a lot longer if you have to do it this way but basically, it’s about making them understand that the crate is a safe haven for them. Putting toys in there like a stuffed Kong will also help them to get settled into the crate much quicker.

A happy full grown Basenji wearing a no pull harness
A happy full grown Basenji wearing a no pull harness

Crating During the Day

If you have to go to work and leave them during the day, you will want to crate your Basenji. You don’t want to come back to a disaster after work. Crating during the day can also help them get used to it but this is not always advisable for puppies.

They will probably make a lot of noise during the day as well but the good thing about it is most people will be at work anyway so they won’t bother anyone. If you can get a dog walker or close friend or relative to come in and walk them during the day, it will help them a lot.

Toys and Treats

We’ve already mentioned how toys can help with helping your Basenji puppy quickly get used to crating. Another thing you can use is treats and food inside the crate. The idea is that they have to associate the crate with good things and not bad.

A tri color Basenji gazes lovingly at its owner.
A tri color Basenji gazes lovingly at its owner. The feeling is mutual!

Crate Training an Adult Basenji

Adult Basenjis will be a little more difficult to crate train but it is not impossible to do. The same approach can be employed as with puppies. You can implement obedience training into their crate training as well by teaching them to only leave their crate only when you give the command even if the door is open.

Click training with treats is a great way to do this. Use the treats for a few weeks where you give the command and a treat. After a couple of weeks, you can remove the treat and they will come out at your command.

I would encourage you to read up on click training as it is too large a subject to cover in this article.

Basenji Crate Size

Lastly, I want to talk about the right size of crate. A crate should be big enough for the Basenji to stand and turn around but no bigger. Basenjis and other dogs inherently don’t potty in the same place that they sleep. Keeping the space small enough will encourage them to not do their business in their crate.

If they have too much room, they will use the crate as a potty. You need to make sure that you get the right size crate for your Basenji. If you want to do things on a budget though, you can get a big crate then block off the rest of it leaving just enough space for your Basenji to be comfortable.

a Basenji doing the dance trick
A Basenji does a dance trick. Easy to teach!


Basenji crate training, though difficult, is possible. You need to make sure that you are mentally and physically prepared for the challenges you will encounter. The most important thing is to stick to your guns if you can help it.

Resist the urge to get them out of the crate when they whimper during the night. You will be thankful you did if you stick it out for a few weeks. Giving in will only cause the goal to be postponed or even forfeited so, hang in there.

More Reading:
Top 5 best basenji harnesses under $25
Are Basenjis Good Apartment Dogs?
Are Basenjis Good for Allergy Sufferers
What Are Basenji Dogs Like & What are the Characteristics of a Basenji Dog