Basenji Post Adoptive Care

Adopting a Basenji is a life changing event. BRAT's Post Adoptive Care (PAC) is here to provide guidance and assistance in making this change a positive and forever one. Browse the topics listed below for Basenji specific suggestions for resolution to a specific problem.


Bad At the Vet

Basenjis are not known for their high level of tolerance, especially during a vet visit. Many vets look at Basenjis with a wary eye—and vice versa. If you don't know by now, this breed has a tendency to bite when frightened or threatened. As a responsible Basenji owner, you should own a muzzle and know how to use it.

Don't wait for your vet or the techs to ask you to muzzle your Basenji. If there is any doubt about your Basenji accepting the medical procedure, use the muzzle. Be prepared to funnel plenty of treats through it. Everyone will be happy with this scenario; your vet and the techs will thank you.

Even if your Basenji is the sweetest dog in the world, why take the risk that your dog will have a meltdown and bite someone? The most well-behaved dog of any breed has the potential to bite in a stressful situation or if injured, so don't be too distraught that your little cuddler morphs into Cujo.

Vets and techs are sensitive professionals who have seen all kinds of breeds and behavior, including Basenji behavior. However, if the vet has no Basenji patients, you may want to educate him about this quirky breed.

You should never allow any veterinary staff employee to mistreat your dog with the use of force. Holding the Basenji firmly for a procedure is one thing, but your dog (and all dogs) should be treated gently. If your vet is not receptive to your requests, find another vet.


Basenji Proofing

Basenjis are high energy, curious, and easily bored dogs with Olympic-level problem solving skills. They can be very destructive, but take comfort. This information will educate you about what you must do to live happily ever after with your Basenji.

Never underestimate a Basenji's inquisitiveness, determination, and persistence. When it comes to searching out and "rearranging" the family's possessions, the Basenji is a master. Take our word for it: Nothing is off-limits. The Basenji has no sense of right and wrong. And, the younger the Basenji, the greater these challenges will be for you and your family.

Here is a short list of a bored Basenji's favorite things to get into: Open drawers, cupboards, closets, laundry baskets, garbage, handbags and briefcases, clothing, bed linen, towels, throw pillows, furniture, paper of all kinds (toilet paper is a particular favorite)! You get the picture.

One Basenji we know got into a visiting lady's handbag and opened a bottle of Tylenol. Since the owners had no idea if any pills were ingested, off they went to the emergency vet (yes, this was after hours!). $700 later, the three-year-old Basenji was fine. We'd like you to avoid expensive emergency vet visits! And if you want to keep your new Ugg boots in one piece, put them in the closet and latch the door.

If you think the kitchen counter is too high for a Basenji to go exploring, think again. We know of one Basenji who can jump straight up and snatch things off the counter with ease. Like a cat, she also jumps from a window seat to the counter to explore the kitchen counter and sink. Lexi is the owners' seventh Basenji in 20 years; she has made them re-think their love of the breed.

Good housekeeping is your best defense. For items that cannot be put away, such as furniture and electrical cords, there are products available that make munching unattractive. Ask your vet, explore the pet store, or search the Internet. Strategies for protecting belongings and furnishings are diverse. Crating the Basenji is the ultimate protection. Make sure drawers, closets, and cupboards are closed and latched at all times. Baby-locks for the cupboards and baby-gates for doorways work well. You can use the ever-popular Bitter Apple or Bitter Yuck. Go to www.bitterapple.com for the instructions to use these products. Automatic door closers are great if family members forget they own a Basenji. Be creative!

Another way Basenjis can be destructive is by running through the house at full speed. More than almost anything, Basenjis love to do THE BASENJI-500. This activity includes, but is not limited to: Bouncing off the back of the furniture, scrambling over grandma's overstuffed chair, running around in circles or figure eights, running back and forth the length of your house, climbing on the bed, and diving under it and racing out the other side to start the "route" all over again. The Basenji 500 is extremely entertaining. Your laughter will turn to horror when your beloved Grandfather clock is knocked over into a jangling heap.

There is no warning when the Basenji 500 will start or end.

Basenjis have no sense of right and wrong. They'll do something naughty right in front of you. Don't use aversive punishment! Keep a squirt bottle handy and give your naughty one a little squirt. (Don't lace the water with vinegar or lemon juice, and don't squirt a high-pressure stream into the dog's eyes or ears; aim for the shoulder.) It might temporarily stun the dog, but he may just shake it off and go right back to what he was doing. An positive technique is to "interrupt and redirect." Interrupt the behavior and give the dog something positive to do. If he goes back to the naughty behavior, try clapping your hands loudly and say, "Hey! Knock it off!" If that fails, be prepared to use the "time out" technique we write about below.


Bathing

Basenjis are very clean and odorless dogs. They are quite good at keeping themselves clean, so there is no need for frequent baths. Unless your Basenji has a "close encounter" with something extremely dirty or stinky, or your Basenji has a skin condition that warrants bathing, such as killing fleas or soothing irritated skin, the bathing schedule is ultimately up to you. >Basenjis hate getting wet, so they don't like being bathed. This can be challenging for both of you!

Shampoo

However tempted, do not use human shampoo, body wash, or bar soap to bath your Basenji. It's the wrong pH for dog skin and can cause dryness. In addition, some dogs are allergic to human soaps. Even regular dog shampoos can contain toxic ingredients. The most toxic ingredients are found in shampoos intended to kill fleas. Manufacturers are not required to list their ingredients on the bottle and most do not, so it's tough to figure out which shampoos to avoid.

If your dog has a skin condition that requires a special shampoo follow your vet's advice.

Here is Whole Dog Journal's pet shampoo recommendations (published June, 1998): Dr. Goodpet's Pure Shampoo; and 8 in 1 Pet Products' Perfect Coat Hypoallergenic Shampoo. (Three of their recommendations, not listed here, are discontinued.)

The Bath

A lot of people use the bathtub for dog baths. Another choice is the sink in your kitchen, laundry room, or kennel. Make sure you have warm water available and a rubber mat to provide secure footing. It's also helpful to have a sprayer hose or a large plastic cup for rinsing. (It's very important to rinse well!)

Before placing your dog in the tub or sink, make sure everything is ready and close at hand—rubber mat in place, water warmed, shampoo, and towel. Avoid getting water in your Basenji's ears or on his face. You might want to leave his collar on so that you can keep a gentle hold on to him.

Provide yummy treats to make bath time more pleasant. Give extra rewards for good behavior, like standing or sitting nicely.

When you've finished shampooing, rinse your dog thoroughly. Residual shampoo can irritate skin. After rinsing, use a towel to get the dog as dry as possible. Don't use a heat lamp or blow dryer, since these can irritate and dry your dog's skin. Also avoid letting your Basenji get chilled by running around wet outdoors in cool weather.

Be prepared for some after-bath fun. Many Basenjis like to start their engines and do the Basenji 500 after a bath. They may use the furniture to rub off excess moisture, in addition to licking themselves dry. Who cares? They're clean.


Begging

Basenjis have turned the act of begging for food into an art form. They can be very charming and know just how to use that charm to get what they want. Be warned!

In a perfect world, the begging behavior would have been nipped in the bud from the start BUT assuming your Basenji has already perfected his craft, there are few things you can do to help break him of this behavior.

Never feed you Basenji scraps from the table. Never! Turn a blind eye to that pleading gaze and ignore the paw that reaches out to tap you gently. If you give in just once and feed him a table scrap while you are sitting at the dinner table, he will continue to beg in the hopes that you will give in again.

If you absolutely can't resist and feel you must give your Basenji a treat from the table, make him work for it. Tell him to sit and then reward him by giving him the treat. He has to learn that he doesn't get something for nothing and that a tilted head and soulful look aren't going to get him what he wants. Also, don't give him the table scrap while you are sitting at the table. Walk over to his food dish or into the next room or hallway and give him the treat there.

When it's mealtime for the humans, it's crate time for the Basenjis. If you feed your Basenji in the evening, make this his mealtime, too. However, it's important that he knows that the humans are sitting down to eat first. In packs, the alpha dogs eat first. If you feed your Basenji first and then sit down to eat he may get the idea that he's higher in the pack order. Put him in his crate and then sit down to eat. He can eat after the humans have finished. If you find it hard to make him wait then at least make sure that you sit down to eat for several minutes before getting up to prepare his meal.

If you don't want to crate your Basenji during mealtime, keep a water bottle or toy water gun on hand. Each time your Basenji jumps up or scratches at you, give him one quick shot with the water bottle and say, "Off!" or "No beg!" Don't say it in an angry voice but use a firm, no-nonsense tone. Don't use the command "down" if a Basenji jumps up and puts his front paws on the table. The down command means something completely different in obedience classes.

Use your hip to "bump" your Basenji off the table or back from the table. Don't use your hands. They will associate bad things with your hands and this may also cause a Basenji to bite. Don't correct him with your hands. You may want to clip a short leash to his collar during mealtime and if he gets sassy when you try to correct him, you can take him by the lead and put him outside, in his crate or in a different room. Some Basenjis can get quite aggressive around food so always keep this in mind when you are teaching them manners and correcting them.

You can also designate a "time out" area for your Basenji. This can be his crate or a special pillow or blanket in the corner. When it's time for the family to eat, you direct him to his time out area. If it's not his mealtime you can give him a small rawhide bone to keep him busy. If you are not comfortable with rawhide you can choose another of his favorite treats and reward him at intervals throughout your meal. Keep reinforcing his good behavior. A time out area is also good when you are trying to enjoy a snack while sitting on the couch. If he starts to beg, tell him, "No beg. Go to your bed." or something similar. Make sure to give him lots of praise when you release him.

Yes, those little cocked heads and furrowed brows are cute, those whines and yodels are endearing and that little begging dance is absolutely irresistible but be strong! Keep in mind that behaviors, which at first seem cute and harmless, can quickly become hindrances to household harmony and can escalate into full blown problems. Lay the foundation for acceptable manners and stick to the rules. Dogs thrive on consistency and leadership. You are the boss and your Basenji needs to know it at all times, including mealtime.


Bribing With Treats

Basenjis do not respond well to confrontational or disciplinary training. They do respond well to positive reinforcement and rewards. Keeping choice food items on hand for purposes of distraction or enticement is a good idea.

Training your Basenji to recognize the words "treat" or "cookie" could have life saving rewards for both of you. It can aid in recall if your Basenji gets loose or when you need your dog to "trade" with you. Being able to trade a treat for a shoe diffuses a possibly ugly situation quickly and easily. Or tossing a cookie into a crate to entice entry also can prevent conflict.

If the dog is a bolter, calling "treat" from the other side of the room can give someone time to exit through a door without a problem. If the dog doesn't like to get down from the warm chair, offering a treat can make that happen.

It is never wise to over use such techniques with Basenjis. They figure out what they are losing in the deal and make the decision the treat isn't worth it to them.


Bringing Home Your New Basenji

Read these tips and ask your adoption coordinator any questions you may have about these items and how they apply to your new Basenji. Expect to be tired for the first few weeks your new Basenji is in your home. Soon you will find you are relaxing and in a routine.

DO keep your Basenji safe. Trying to catch an escaped, scared Basenji is nearly impossible. Plan ahead. As soon as your Basenji comes home, practice calling him in the house and each time he comes, give him a high value treat. Some Basenjis bolt through open doors. Be certain your new Basenji is in your control before opening any doors. Basenjis can back out of their collars. Make sure your Basenji's collar is fitted properly. It should be buckled tightly enough that you can just squeeze two fingers under the collar. If your Basenji escapes, chasing it will make it run faster. Several things to try: run the opposite direction, as he may decide to chase you; lay down on the ground and roll around or act like you are eating treats. Your Basenji's curiosity may bring him back to see what is going on. Notify your placement counselor immediately for more guidance.

DO remember that may take as long as four months for a dog to settle into its new surroundings. (For a Basenji who has been placed multiple times, it will likely take longer.) Try not to pressure the dog to work with you too much or expect anything extraordinary from the dog during this time.

DO act like you get a new dog in your house every day of the week. It's no big deal. This is hard because you're nervous yourself, but it's so important. If you are nervous and uptight the dog will get nervous and uptight also. Your confidence will be contagious and help your Basenji realize she has a confident leader.

DON'T touch the dog. Let the dog come to you in its own good time. When a Basenji is in a new environment, the only thing that's familiar to them is the immediate space around their own body. This space becomes inviolate to the dog. He may likely feel threatened if you touch him before he is ready If you drop something next to the dog, either wait for the dog to move, or, if it's edible, kiss it goodbye. Avoid making quick movements with your hands or body that might startle the dog.

DO talk to your Basenji a lot. Use your natural voice. Talk to the dog about anything. Just babble meaningfully and go ahead and throw the dog's name in ever so often. What you are doing is getting the dog used to your voice and helping it to learn to read your body language. The faster the dog learns this, the more quickly it can start to settle in, so talk to it a lot.

DON'T act sympathetic toward the dog. Dogs don't understand sympathy. The minute your voice gets sympathetic, the dog's immediate reaction is "Uh oh, something's wrong."

DON'T expect anything extraordinary from the dog. The only thing you want to do during these first weeks is to show the dog your basic leadership skills. Just show your "stand tall, self-assurance" type traits for now. They help the dog understand you know what you're doing.

DO have the dog sit before you set their meals down by the second or third day. If your dog doesn't know the sit command, begin teaching him using positive reinforcement. Use high-value treats and hold them behind your back (holding them in front of the dog is a bribe). Say sit once. If he doesn't sit, bring the treat to his nose and move it over his head. As the dog follows the treat, she'll usually sit. Mark the behavior by saying, Yes! or Good! the second his butt hits the floor.

DO feel comfortable about petting your other dogs, if you have them. It's important for them to realize they have not been displaced and for the new dog to see you interacting in a pleasing way with them. Watch for tension this might create. If your original dog is feeling needy, you might give him lots of special attention away out of view of the new dog. As you are providing attention and cuddles, be aware of any tension between dogs. Ownership or protection of "my" human can cause disagreements. Calmly leaving the area helps reduce the stress.

DO remove all toys if there is another dog in the home. Let the dogs adjust to each other before adding the stress of squabbling over toys. If you can't help yourself, provide toys while the dogs are individually crated.

DO pay personal attention to the dog when they begin to ask for it, but be cautious. Some Basenjis want attention but then revert to fear when you reach out to them as they're still unsure of your movements and what they mean. Reach out slowly with your palm up and watch the dog carefully. If he looks the least bit tentative, stop. Don't jerk your hand back; just stop your hand wherever it is. If the dog is tentative, the dog will turn away. Then you can pull your hand back slowly.

DO expect the dog to become a "Velcro dog" the first weeks. They have been abandoned once and don't want to let you out of their sight for fear it means they've been abandoned again. Just try not to fall over the dog if it really sticks close. You can tell how well a dog is adjusting by when it starts letting you out of its sight and for how long.

Should the dog growl at you for any reason, stand, turn your back to the dog, and walk away. If the dog nips at you as you're walking away just stop and stand still, ignoring the dog completely.

Keep a leash or line of some sort about three feet long. You could use cotton clothes line rope dipped in Bitter Apple) attached to her collar at all times when she's in the house. New Basenjis tend to try to find a place that they can claim as "theirs." It may be an overstuffed chair, the couch, the bed, etc. You don't want this to happen. If she growls while she's on any piece of furniture, tell her Off! and use the line to pull her off. Don't jerk the line, just pull gently but firmly until she's off. When she is off, then you may invite her back up if you so desire, but it's important she knows she has boundaries and limits.

Never wake up a Basenji by touching or shaking it, unless you know the Basenji very well and the Basenji knows you very well. Many Basenjis will awake snapping at whatever woke them. Simply call the dog's name. When it is awake, return to your normal interaction style. If your dog has a hearing or vision problem, slightly stomping on the floor to awaken the dog and to get the dog's attention before touching will help your Basenji.

If your Basenji becomes frightened and hides in a crate, under a bed or back in some "hiding place", do not reach in and try to pull the dog out. Wait patiently and let the dog set the pace.

Children require the highest degree of supervision when around the new Basenji. Children's play frequently consists of making loud noises and running, flapping arms, and sometimes waving toys in the air. This type of behavior may be very frightening to your new Basenji. It is essential that you talk with your children and require that they not push themselves on the new Basenji. If they want to do something, they may put the Basenji's food bowl down for her and they may put treats on the floor for the Basenji to then pick up. Going slowly is the best policy.


Car Rides

As with going out the front door to walk and explore, most dogs love cars rides. The exception might be if the only time you take your dog in the car is to visit the vet. This car ride could cause your dog to associate the car ride with an unpleasant experience.

Take your dog riding with you as often as you can! Go to the dog park or to the pet store. Get in the car together and go walking in a new neighborhood. Load up and go to classes.

Dogs love to be with you, wherever you go and whatever you do, so include them in your adventures.

Safe travels are important so you should crate your Basenji while driving. If a crate won't fit in your car, restrain your dog with a seat belt especially made for dogs.

The most devastating tragedy can occur when a Basenji bolts from the car window or open door. Don't leave windows open more than a few inches while driving or parked. When you exit the car the dog should be leashed, crated, or issued a solid wait command.

And never leave your dog unattended in the car in hot or cold weather. It can be life-threatening.

Click the link to read Road Trips With Your Dog from the ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist.


Cats

Basenjis are sighthounds. This means they have a high drive to chase moving objects, particularly if the object is furry. This is not good news for your kitty friend; but with careful planning and good supervision, you can live in harmony with Basenjis and cats.

First and most important, look for a rescue Basenji that has a history of living with cats. Some Basenjis will never adapt to living with cats. Why take the risk if you have a choice? In the event that you do choose to adopt a Basenji with an unproven history around cats, you should be prepared to provide permanent, separate accommodations for your cats. In some Basenjis, the prey drive is simply too high to allow the Basenji to leave the cat alone.

Second, your cat's actions have a lot to do with how your new Basenji will ultimately react. If your cat is spooky and tends to run away from dogs, your Basenji will likely be unable to resist a chase. Considering the personality of your cat(s) is also important in knowing what the ultimate relationship between cat and Basenji will be.

Prior to bringing your new Basenji home, prepare your cat for this event. Give your cat a "safe" room where the Basenji is not welcome. Use of baby gates to create this space is ideal. Remember that some Basenjis will go right over a baby gate, so you may need to stack two of them ... but make sure your cat can still enter and escape. Also, give your cat some high places to hide. Cats like to be up high to feel safe and if you prepare and acquaint your cat with these locations prior to introducing your Basenji, your cat will quickly adapt to seeking these places in the event of a Basenji chase. However, make sure your Basenji cannot also get to these high places! Basenjis can easily jump on a counter top or table. If your cat is older or not too agile, you might consider a small hole in the door to its "safe" room or other area where the Basenji cannot follow. However, in the event that your Basenji is small and your cat large, this might be a difficult solution, as the Basenji could squeeze through the space behind the cat.

For your Basenji's safety, it is wise to trim your cat's claws. Use small clippers or scissors to remove a portion of the tiny, needle-sharp tip of the claw. Your cat will still be able to climb and defend itself with a swat, but the damage will be minimal in the event that a claw should hit the Basenji's eye. A claw to the eye can cause serious damage, even resulting in the loss of the eye if bad enough.

Another smart move is to create a plan for your Basenji to not have access to the kitty's food or litter box. Yes, Basenjis are quite attracted to litter boxes and will eat the contents if at all possible. You may simply want to put the litter box in the cat's "safe" room to begin with, until you know what arrangements will work best.

Introduce your cat to your new Basenji by holding the cat on your lap. This will impress upon the Basenji that this is a family pet, not some toy to chew on. Have another person holding the Basenji on leash and gage the Basenji's reaction. Is he bored? On high alert? This will tell you a lot about how much work you have to do!

Next, let the cat run free, but keep the Basenji leashed. Does the cat run? Does the Basenji try to give chase? If your Basenji is not overly assertive towards the cat, allow the Basenji to also be free, but dragging the leash. Allow the cat to be the one to approach, and to dictate how much contact with which he is comfortable.

If the Basenji will not leave the cat alone, it is best to keep them separated and the Basenji leashed. Continue to work through introductions over the next few days until both are more at ease with another. You may wish to muzzle your Basenji if you sense that the Basenji may try to grab the cat in its teeth.

Once you have gotten through the initial introductions, things should progress more easily. However, your Basenji will probably always be very tempted to chase your cat, and may wish to play with it more roughly than the cat would like. Do not leave your Basenji alone with your cat unless you are 100% sure the cat will be safe. Always offering your cat a safe place to get away from your Basenji is a wise idea, no matter how long the cat and Basenji have been together.


Children: Basenjis Attempting To Control

In this article we'll discuss how to deal with your Basenji when he tries to control your children. First we'll address the nature of a dog as a pack animal and the personality and inborn traits that make a dog do this type of thing. The dog is not being bad, he is only doing what he knows, and it is important to understand where this is coming from in order to handle it properly. We offer you some things to try or change, to help teach your dog the proper way to act in your home. This is done in bullet form to make it easier to skip to, or find any particular solution technique. The techniques are 1) don't free feed your dog, make him work for his food, 2) stop allowing the dog to sleep in the child's bed if it has been, 3) do not play tug of war with the dog if this has been done, and let the child be the one to give and put away toys 4) allow your child to take the dog on it's potty trips or anything in the dogs routine that the child can control, and 5) have your child teach your Basenji a new trick that only they two do together.

It is important to understand that dogs are pack animals and within this pack there is a hierarchy. Each pack has a top male or female, then each dog takes its place in concession below that. No two dogs are at the same place in the pack order. They may be close to the same place, and therefore possible rivals of each other, but each has a spot in the pack, and all dogs are happiest when they know where this is! When a dog lives in a family this is the same. They will view someone in the family as their leader and if no one takes this position, they may try to.

As well every dog has a personality, just like people, and there may be some that are shyer than others, some that are confident, some that are leaders. It is not important to figure out exactly what your dog is, but it is important to have an idea. A shy dog will most likely never vie for alpha, and consequently some dogs will challenge or push the envelope every chance they get. There are also grays to this scale, and there can be dogs that are laid back and therefore one may think they would not want the top dog position, but they can.

Children can often be viewed as one of the pack that is close to the dog's position, or even under them. The signs for this being the case can vary from the dog nipping and pestering the child, the dog taking things away from the child, not listening to the child, and so on. It is important, first that the parents of the household have established with the dog that they are top dog. If parents are also having trouble with the dog then steps need to be taken to re-establish this all important role before work is done with the children. (The below steps can help with any family member though.)

Working with a Basenji through positive reinforcement is the best way to attain a good working relationship with your dog. It forms a much more solid foundation when a dog is praised when it does something good rather than punished. Punishment is also known as an aversive. The behavior is avoided or not repeated because the animal wants to avoid the thing that it doesn't like. On the other hand, positive reinforcement makes the your Basenji WANT to do things, rather than fear you, or do the bad things behind your back. Training your Basenji, even just in the basics, is very healthy for him because it lets him know where he stands AND what is expected of him. A dog will act out if it doesn't know its station in the pack or if it doesn't understand the rules. In this article, we'll deal with positive reinforcement to change behavior.

It would be hard for a family to teach a dog that a very small baby is a leader in the pack, and one should not attempt to do so. Dogs in a household should learn to respect the baby and again, be taught the rules for being around baby. However, for an older child it is important to make this transition and doing some or all of these things can do it

Don't free feed your Basenji; instead let your child feed the dog throughout the day (or evening) after he has done something good to earn the food. The food can be put on the counter top and every so often, be taken out in handfuls for a few minutes of work. If the dog knows any basic commands then ask it to do these things, then let your child offer the food. By being fed, this tells your Basenji that your child ate first and is now allowing him to have his turn. If your Basenji does not know any basic commands now is the time to start.

If the dog has been sleeping on your child's bed, discontinue this. If your child really wants the dog in there, take a crate and let it sleep in the crate, in the child's room. Body language is important to dogs, it is one of the main ways in which they communicate and to a dog, when another is physically lower, this is a sign of submission. Also sleeping on the bed tells your dog that he is on the same level as you. If there are no problems and the dog has realized where he stands and has learned that he is allowed to get on the bed after he is invited, then it is OK to resume.

If the child plays tug of war with the dog then discontinue this, especially if the child loses ... ever. This type of play emboldens a dog and if he wins, he's better than the looser. This is not the emotion, nor the message we want to send to our Basenji right now. If your Basenji continually tests his boundaries it may be necessary to never play this game again. Also, put the toys away and let the child give the dog his toys at playtime, preferably for doing something good, like a sit, and then let the child put them away where the dog can't get them when playtime is over. Let the dog see this.

Allow your child to take the dog on potty trips. This is another means of controlling the dog and will reinforce the child's status in the dog's eyes. It may be necessary to supervise this, but allow the child to do as much as possible, while giving only verbal instructions if needed, and have the child praise your dog when he's done his business. Never hold back on praise, feel free to get silly.

Finally, you can allow your child to teach your Basenji a trick that only the child gets to do with the dog. Kids love this because it is their trick and this, again, teaches the dog who has control. Choose something easy for the child to carry out and for the dog to learn. It is best to pick something that the dog is already naturally good at. For example, if your Basenji likes to yodel, then have your child get some treats, do something to incite the dog to yodel and when he does praise and treat. A quick praise is best in this case when learning because it reinforces better. Say "Good!" quickly and happily and treat. Do this several times, every time the dog yodels, pretty soon it will figure out that the yodel gets a treat. Once it has done this, then add a command. When the yodel comes out, immediately have the child say the command that you have chosen for this trick. Yodel or barooo seem appropriate. After the command quickly say your praise word and treat. After 'adding' on this command for a while the dog will learn through repetition to yodel on command. Viola! Your child and dog have bonded and worked on their relationship all at the same time. (Don't hesitate to try something else, or don't get frustrated if your first trick doesn't work, it's all a matter of finding what the dog will most likely succeed at and taking advantage of that. And repetition.)


Children: Fearful Basenjis

Children and Basenjis can be an entertaining combination or a recipe for disaster. It is important that parents or caretakers remain dedicated to teaching children how to respect all animals, not just the family Basenji. Also, the importance of supervision cannot be stressed enough!

Never let a child wake a sleeping Basenji.

Never let a child approach a Basenji from behind and reach for his tail, etc. Basenjis can have a high startle response. They may whirl around, sometimes with teeth bared. Or snap.

Never let a child tease or taunt a Basenji. Basenjis have a low tolerance for rough treatment. Basenjis don't enjoy being ridden like horses, don't think it's fun to have their tails uncurled or their ears squeezed and pulled and most definitely don't find it amusing to have a child scream in their faces or run at them with plastic baseball bats, golf clubs, etc.

Teaching a child that these things are unacceptable is the first step, but constant supervision (especially with younger children) is the key to success. After all, even the best of children may find that curly tail too hard to resist. If you are supervising, you will be able to see the behavior and correct it on the spot. Sometimes we all have to understand that even the greatest children and the greatest dogs act like what they are: children and dogs. The saying is old but true…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! If a Basenji is fearful of the family children (or child), it may be due to mistreatment or it may just be the Basenji's lack of exposure to children and poor socialization with them.

Start small. If you have a multiple child family, choose your oldest child or pick the child who is the calmest and tends to follow directions well.

Give your child a few of the Basenji's favorite treats (small bits of cheese, dried liver, hot dogs). Have your child wait outside the room.

You can put your Basenji on a loose leash if you feel you'd like more control. Sit on the floor in a quiet room and sit your Basenji by your side. Pet him gently and talk to him calmly.

Call your child into the room and have him approach calmly and talk to him in a casual calm voice. If you feel your Basenji tense, keep petting him and talking to him in a calm, casual tone. Don't use an overly sympathetic tone because this will send a message to the Basenji that he is right to be afraid.

If your Basenji seems overly frightened and distressed, you can ask your child not to acknowledge him when he enters the room. Instead, she can come in and talk to you in a casual manner while you continue to pet your Basenji. Basenjis hate to be ignored!

Have your child sit down on the other side of you so that you are in between your child and your Basenji.

Continue to talk. If your Basenji seems a little interested, let him approach the child and sniff. You can praise him when he does this. Chances are, he can smell those treats and he's going to want some.

Have your child hold out her hand, palm up, and present the treat to the dog. Praise him lavishly when he takes it.

Always remind children to approach a dog by holding their hand out, palm up. Let the dog sniff the hand and if all seems well, the child can reach down and pet the chest. Never have a child reach their hand out of the dog's line of vision to pet the head or back of the neck. They will need to build trust with the dog before this can be done.

Remind children that it's best not to make direct eye contact with the Basenji while they are getting him over this fear period. Dogs read direct eye contact as a challenge.

You may have to repeat the above exercise several times a day and eventually with all your children. The idea is to let your Basenji know that children are kind and don't mean him any harm.

Remember, food makes friends so have your children offer him treats throughout the day. Make these treats tiny though as you don't want to put weight on your dog by over feeding him.

Have your children take a positive and active role in the Basenji's care. Children can take turns feeding him, walking him (have the child accompany the adult and the adult is the one to hold the leash), teaching him tricks, giving him belly rubs, etc.

It's important to make sure that all of your Basenji's interactions with children are positive ones.

If the children are getting rowdy in the house, make sure your Basenji has a safe place where he can escape the noise and confusion.

Constantly remind the children that they can't get too rowdy around the dog. Sudden noises and movements will either get your Basenji riled up or make him nervous and anxious, wondering if he'll be struck by a flailing limb or toy, etc.

When things are improving with the children at home, you can then start walking him at parks or near playgrounds and get him used to strangers. Close supervision is advised! If you are not confident about how your Basenji will act around strange children, don't introduce him! Make sure you feel good about his progress before taking this step. You can even give neighborhood kids a treat to present to your Basenji. He'll love it!

Keep in mind that it is up to you, as the owner of the Basenji, to ensure that he has good experiences with children. Teaching children to respect all life is an ongoing process but it can also be a very rewarding one. Above all else, don't set children or dogs up to fail by leaving them to interact unsupervised. Proper supervision is the key to success!


Children: Treating Basenjis Well

The kind of person who likes to brag, "My kids can do anything to our dog!" should not be allowed to own a dog ... especially a Basenji! Basenjis have a much lower tolerance for the rough play and teasing antics of children. They do not put up with much nonsense before they will growl, snap or bite. Many biting incidents that involve dogs and children are caused by children who have mistreated the dog. Unfortunately, it's usually the dog that gets all the blame.

It is crucial that parents realize their role in teaching children to respect all animals, not the least of which is the family Basenji. Parents need to remain committed and dedicated to these lessons at all times.

Newborns

Bringing a new baby home is a huge adjustment for people and animals alike.

Do not make the baby's room off limits to the Basenji. This may build resentment as the months pass. He will wonder why that room is so special and why he can't go in it. Let him examine the room, smell the new crib, the diapers stacked up, the changing table, etc.

Try to obtain a recording of an infant crying (perhaps friends who have a newborn can make a tape for you). Play this on the stereo every once in awhile. Your Basenji may cock his head at first and then ignore it but it's good to start getting him ready for the new family member.

While the mother and baby are still in the hospital, the husband or another family member, should take an article of the baby's clothing home for the Basenji to smell. He may not seem too interested after the first couple of sniffs but it's still a good idea to do this.

Upon bringing the infant home, it is very important the Basenji not be completely ignored. He is curious about this tiny new thing and will want to examine and smell the baby. Let him do this but use your common sense! Don't put the newborn on the floor and let the Basenji do as he pleases. Hold the baby safely while talking gently to your Basenji. When you keep secrets from a Basenji it drives them crazy. Don't make him feel like you are keeping something important from him.

Bring a treat home for your Basenji the day you bring the newborn home from the hospital.

Never shut your Basenji away in a different room while you tend to the baby and then let the Basenji out while the baby is in the crib. The Basenji will learn to resent the baby. "Oh, they only have time for me when that thing isn't around, huh?" Using common sense and good judgment, make time for both your Basenji and your baby at the same time. If you are feeding your baby, let you Basenji sit next to you on the couch. Make him feel like he is still a loved member of the family.

Older Children

Remember, the way a child treats an animal all comes down to lessons learned (or not learned) from the parents.

Parents should always supervise Basenji and child interactions. Too many accidents have happened when the parent "just turned away for a minute."

Children should be taught to take an active role in the Basenji's daily care. The Basenji will learn that the child is higher than him in pack order and this may help avoid dominance issues in the future.

Teach children to always approach a dog quietly and never to reach out right away to grab at the dog. The child should be taught to offer her hand, palm up, or to stand still while the dog smells her. She can then speak softly to him and offer him a treat. If she reaches to pet him and he backs off, tell her to stand still and let the dog approach her again.

Let your child clip the dogs leash on before he goes on a walk or have your child put the dog's food bowl down at mealtime. The dog will associate the child with positive things and this will help build trust between the Basenji and the child.

A child should be timed out or reprimanded appropriately whenever she is observed mistreating the Basenji in any way. You must make the child understand that mistreatment, teasing, taunting and cruelty will not be tolerated! If parents don't agree with this then they should be reminded that if the importance of respect and kindness to animals isn't taken seriously now their child might end up paying the price for it later (if they taunt the wrong dog and get bitten or attacked).

Teach younger children the importance of ABCD—Ask Before Cuddling Dogs. Never approach a strange dog without asking the owner's permission.

The relationship between Basenjis and children can be an endearing and rewarding one but it's up to the parents to see that a healthy relationship flourishes. It's never too late to start instilling values of respect, kindness and compassion where children and animals are concerned. And don't forget to supervise!


Children: With Difficult Basenjis

In this article we'll discuss how to deal with your Basenji when he tries to harass or disobey your children. First we'll address the nature of a dog as a pack animal and the personality and inborn traits that make a dog do this type of thing. The dog is not being bad, he is only doing what he knows, and it is important to understand where this is coming from in order to handle it properly. We offer things to try, to help teach your dog the proper way to act in your home. The techniques are 1) don't free feed your dog, make him work for his food, 2) stop allowing the dog to sleep in the child's bed if it has been, 3) do not play tug of war with the dog if this has been done, and let the child be the one to give and put away toys 4) allow your child to take the dog on its potty trips or anything in the dogs routine that the child can control, and 5) have your child teach your Basenji a new trick that only they two do together.

It is important to understand that dogs are pack animals and within this pack there is a hierarchy. Each pack has a male or female leader, then each dog takes its place in concession below that. No two dogs are equal in the pack order. They may be close to the same place, and therefore possible rivals of each other, but each has a spot in the pack, and all dogs are happiest when they know where this is! When a dog lives in a family this is the same. They will view someone in the family as their leader and if no one takes this position, they may try to.

As well every dog has a personality, just like people, there may be some dogs that are shyer than others, some that are confident, some that are leaders. It is not important to figure out exactly what your dog is, but it is important to have an idea. A shy dog will most likely never vie for alpha, and consequently some dogs will challenge or push the envelope every chance they get. There are also grays to this scale, and there can be dogs that are laid back and therefore one may think they would not want the top dog position, but they can.

Children can often be viewed as one of the pack that is close to the dog's position, or even under them. The signs for this being the case can vary from the dog nipping and pestering the child, the dog taking things away from the child, not listening to the child, and so on. It is important, first that the parents of the household have established with the dog that they are top dog. If parents are also having trouble with the dog then steps need to be taken to re-establish this all important role before work is done with the children. (The below steps can help with any family member though.)

Working with a Basenji through positive reinforcement is the best way to attain a good working relationship with your dog. It forms a much more solid foundation when a dog is praised when it does something good rather than punished. Punishment is also known as an aversive. The behavior is avoided or not repeated because the animal wants to avoid the punishment that it doesn't like. On the other hand, positive reinforcement makes the your Basenji WANT to do things, rather than fear you, or do the bad things behind your back. Training your Basenji, even just the basics, is very healthy for him because it lets him know where he stands and what is expected of him. A dog may act out if it doesn't know its station in the pack or if it doesn't understand the rules. In this article, we'll deal with positive reinforcement to change behavior.

It would be hard for a family to teach a dog that a very small baby is the leader in the pack, and one should not attempt to do so. Dogs in a household should learn to respect the baby and again, be taught the rules for being around baby. However, for an older child it is important to make a transition and doing some or all of these things can help.

Don't free feed your Basenji; instead let your child feed the dog throughout the day (or evening) after he has done something good to earn the food. The food can be put on the counter top and every so often, be taken out in handfuls for a few minutes of work. If the dog knows any basic commands then ask it to do these things, then let your child offer the food. This encourages your Basenji to behave by properly allowing him to figure out how to get you to give him more food. If your Basenji does not know any basic commands now is the time to start.

If the dog has been sleeping on your child's bed, discontinue this. If your child really wants the dog in there, take a crate and let it sleep in the crate, in the child's room. Body language is important to dogs, it is one of the main ways in which they communicate and to a dog, when another is physically lower, this is a sign of submission. Also sleeping on the bed tells your dog that he is on the same level as you. If there are no problems and the dog has realized where he stands and has learned that he is allowed to get on the bed after he is invited, then it is ok to resume.

If the child plays tug of war with the dog then discontinue this, especially if the child looses ... ever. This type of play emboldens a dog and if he wins, he's better than the looser. This is not the emotion, nor the message we want to send to our Basenji right now. If your Basenji continually tests his boundaries it may be necessary to never play this game again. Also, put the toys away and let the child give the dog his toys at playtime, preferably for doing something good, like a sit, and then let the child put them away where the dog can't get them when playtime is over. Let the dog see this.

Allow your child to take the dog on potty trips. This is another means of controlling the dog and will reinforce the child's status in the dog's eyes. It may be necessary to supervise this, but allow the child to do as much as possible, while giving only verbal instructions if needed, and have the child praise your dog when he's done his business. Never hold back on praise, feel free to get silly.

Finally you can allow your child to teach your Basenji a trick that only the child gets to do with the dog. Kids love this because it is their trick and this, again, teaches the dog who has control. Choose something easy for the child to carry out and for the dog to learn. It is best to pick something that the dog is already naturally good at. For example, if your Basenji likes to yodel, then have your child get some treats, do something to incite the dog to yodel and when he does praise and treat. A quick praise is best in this case when learning because it reinforces better. Say "Good!" quickly and happily and treat. Do this several times, every time the dog yodels, pretty soon it will figure out that the yodel gets a treat. Once it has figured that out, then add a command. When the yodel comes out, immediately have the child say the command that you have chosen for this trick. Yodel or barooo seem appropriate. After the command, quickly praise and treat. After adding on this command for a while the dog will learn through repetition to yodel on command. Viola! Your child and dog have bonded and worked on their relationship all at the same time. (Don't hesitate to try something else, and don't get frustrated if your first trick doesn't work, it's all a matter of finding what the dog will most likely succeed at and taking advantage of that. And repetition.)


Crate Phobic

Being able to crate your dog is an important function. It does not mean you must crate the dog daily, but it does mean you should be able to get the dog into a crate without danger to yourself or the dog and that the dog should be no more than slightly distressed by a short stay in the crate. If this is not possible, you may need to work with the dog to alleviate its phobic reaction to crating.

If your Basenji gets upset when it sees a crate, let alone is asked to enter one, you can be fairly certain you have some desensitization to do. If your dog enters a crate without too much fuss, and seems only slightly upset while you are there, but goes bonkers when you leave, you may be dealing with separation anxiety. These are two separate issues, be sure you are working on the right one.

To help a dog overcome its distrust or dislike of being crated, you must make the crate a friendly place for the dog. Place the crate in a well-traveled area of the home and leave the door open. After a few days, toss a treat into the crate and praise the dog when it retrieves the treat. Then push the door closed (but not latched) while the dog is inside retrieving the treat. Praise the dog while it is in the crate. Next, latch the door for lengthening periods of time. Do not increase the times dramatically or at all if the dog does not respond well. Return to a level of comfort if the dog is distressed with any progress.

This may take several weeks and should be consistently done to help the dog adjust to time in the crate as a normal part of the routine.


Dislikes Men/Women

A dog who is not well socialized to all types of people as a puppy may end up fearing or disliking persons of a particular gender, age, or even appearance (e.g., men with beards, people wearing hats). Socialization of an adult dog is somewhat more difficult than it is with a puppy, but good results can often be achieved with patience and persistence.

As an example, let's take the case of a female Basenji who is not well socialized with men. Perhaps she growls at or tends to avoid male members of your household. Or when you take her out for a walk, she might snap at any man who attempts to approach and pet her.

This is not the kind of problem that can be solved in a few brief training sessions. It's more likely to require a long period of gradual desensitization. The idea is to teach this Basenji girl that especially wonderful things happen whenever men come around. Reserve a particular treat (something incredibly yummy) or a favorite toy or game for use only in this training exercise. The dog should have no access to this coveted thing under any other circumstances. Then what happens is this: a man walks into the room, and the dog gets the treats or plays the game. The man leaves, and the fun thing stops immediately, not to resume until the man returns. It won't take long for the dog to make the connection. Good things happen whenever the man comes around.

There doesn't need to be any interaction between the man and the dog, at least not at first. Eventually, as the dog becomes more accepting of his presence, you might want to have the man give treats directly to the dog. Tasty morsels can be kept near the front door for any strangers or "scary" visitors to offer to your dog. Even if the dog refuses to take a treat from someone she is uncomfortable with, it is still a sign of progress if she can remain relaxed while that person is in the room.

Another idea is to have the person sit still in a room. Cover the person with special treats and wait for the dog to approach. The person should not try to interact with the dog. Just allow the dog to approach at her own pace, when she's ready. Forcing a dog into frightening situations will only serve to heighten her fear. You are trying to replace negative experiences with positive ones. If good things happen when men come around, maybe men aren't so bad after all.

This brief article is not meant to be a comprehensive solution to the problem of under-socialization, but it may give you some ideas about how to structure desensitization exercises to meet your own dog's needs. Training sessions will usually need to be varied and repeated in different situations. For example, your Basenji may learn to feel comfortable with the man who lives in the house, but still growl at men she meets in the park. Most dog training is accomplished in a series of small steps. Once you've met one goal, you can set the next one and start thinking about how to reach it. With time and patience, and by taking one step at a time, you will eventually make great progress.


Dog Aggression At Home

Dogs are territorial and they are protective of that territory. Each dog is different in its need to protect. Some feel it is the reason they were born, some feel it's only important with certain threats, and some leave it to their pack leader, who they should perceive as you.

Read Introducing Your Basenji To Other Dogs to learn how to most effectively bring another dog into your dog's home. Even if the dog is only going to stay a short time, it is important to take the time your dog needs to gain a level of comfort with the invasion of its territory.

If your dog is being ungracious in welcoming a canine house guest or new resident, employ crates to ease the conflict. Separating the dogs will only prolong the conflict. Each dog assumes victory is theirs when they are removed from each other's sight and when they come together again, the battle begins anew. Instead, each dog should be placed in a crate, facing the other dog for a "time out." The message you are conveying is that the dogs must get along and both are responsible for making that happen. Pay no attention to the dogs while they are crated. You are also communicating that neither dog gets to enjoy your company until they get along.

If you expect your dog to be a host with any frequency, make certain to bring visiting canines to your home regularly to practice gracious behavior and to make the "invasions" as routine as possible.

Should aggression at home be triggered by possessiveness on the part of your dog, concerning objects, food, sleeping quarters or people, see the articles specifically written on those topics.


Dog Aggression On Leash

Basenjis tend to be very bold, particularly around other dogs. Gender aggression is an issue ... it's usually impossible to expect your Basenji to be able to get along with others of the same gender. But what if your normally sweet and docile Basenji turns into a growling monster on walks? Rushes to the end of the leash and challenges every dog he sees?

The reason, very simply, is the leash. A tight leash makes your Basenji feel confined and weak. He feels the need to assert himself with other dogs he meets. The solution? Keeping the leash loose. This is easier said than done ... our Basenji may be straining towards the other dog and dragging you along behind. But getting that leash loose is very important!

Dig out your Basenji treats, and summon your Basenji. Do not let him continue to pull towards the other dog! Stand your ground until your Basenji turns back to you. Have him sit, and give him a treat along with lots of praise. If you have been working on Leash Pulling your Basenji will be easier to control and distract with treats. If not, getting your Basenji to turn away and sit might be quite a chore, but don't give in to him! Stand your ground until your Basenji behaves by sitting nicely.

Once he has demonstrated self control by sitting and receiving his treat, let him move forward. If he starts to pull again, make him repeat the sit. Keep the approach under control, with a loose leash at all times.

Additionally, your Basenji may be staring and fixated on the other dog. Use your body to break the tension. Don't pull back on the leash, just walk in front of your Basenji, or turn him and walk the other way. Walking in circles can do quite a lot to ease the tension. Don't forget to hand out treats for good behavior! And keep that leash loose.

After a few times through this exercise, your Basenji may actually come to you and sit for a treat when he sees another dog!

Please refer to the Introducing Your Basenji To Other Dogs article for more information about introducing your Basenji to other dogs.


Door Manners

Good door behavior has several components. Overcoming the tendency to bolt out any open door, allowing people to enter and exit, and learning not to jump on people who walk in the door are a few scenarios.

Bolting

Keep leashes near the door so you can put it on the dog before opening the door. Your dog will still be able to be with you, but restrained.

One method of training your dog not to bolt is a concentrating on the mastery of the "sit" command. You can also teach "wait" as a cue that soon they will be allowed to exit as opposed to using "stay," which in conventional obedience training can mean a very long wait.

Leash the dog at the front door and have them sit and wait. Open the door. Use release words such as "release" or "freedom" rather than the more common and overused "OK". Imagine all the times during the day the dog hears the word "OK" spoken and what might happen if that is also used as the release word. It could be merely confusing or maybe disastrous.

If the dog stands up to go through without permission, bring her back inside, have her sit and start the process over again. Once it clicks in her brain that you decide when she gets to go, and that there is a much shorter wait when she leaves the choice up to you, it gets much easier. Vary the time the dog has to wait so she stays focused on you. If you always say "free" after three seconds, the dog will not wait, but begin going out at what she considers the right time. If the dog consistently fails to wait a certain time period (say, ten seconds), back off to a shorter time frame (five seconds) and gradually work up to the longer one.

Being consistent in training this behavior may well save the life of your dog. It will also reinforce your position in the pecking order.

“Answering” The Door

If you don't want your dogs to accompany you to the door, train them to go to a spot across the room, or to their crates when the doorbell rings or someone knocks on the door.

On occasions when many people are visiting and the door is always being opened and closed, the dog may have to be behind a physical barrier. If you have a hallway entry, a gate can be set up and serve as an "air lock" to the entry. If the door is open, dogs must be behind the gate or on a leash. On Halloween, a baby gate right at the front door allows you to open the door to trick or treaters without fearing your Basenji will escape.

Leaving The House

Tossing a treat away from the door as you open it will distract the dog and allow you to exit without having the dog bolt.

Jumping On People

Dogs jump on people to get attention. Teach the dog to sit for treats. Keep treats near the door, but inaccessible to your pet. Provide visitors with treats to give your dog as they enter. Give the "sit" command and when your dog complies ask the visitors to give the treat. In time the dog will associate sitting when someone enters with getting yummy stuff.

When the dog violates the no jumping rule, ignore him. Do not speak, pet or acknowledge the dog until he sits. Any attention at all is a reward. Once the dog has complied, reward with attention, a treat, or a toy.


Extremely Destructive

Extremely destructive behavior is one of the common reasons people give up their Basenjis. In order to address this issue before it escalates or becomes a habit, we strongly urge you to contact a support person to collaborate and brainstorm.

Remember, it may take a number of efforts to resolve this problem and fine tuning of the approach that will work best for your Basenji.

Dealing with this issue will involve prevention, training, and management. A multi-pronged approach is usually most effective. Training entails teaching the dog a new behavior that will replace the undesirable behavior, for example, training the dog to chew on an acceptable object, rather than on the furniture, and to do it consistently. Management entails making changes in the environment and in the human's behavior to address the undesirable behavior, for example, putting distasteful on a surface you don't want the Basenji to chew, or just pulling the blinds up out of your Basenji's reach. Prevention, a type of management, is highly recommended and may involve tools to make supervision easier. Exercise is a good preventative measure that should be practiced daily.

Most destructive behavior inside the house is related to chewing just about anything. Outside, some of the typical destructive behavior is destruction of lawn furniture, sprinkling systems, and siding on the house, as well as digging up of the yard in a pattern that seems without purpose.

To start, it is useful to determine what is prompting the destructive behavior. Once the events or situations that prompts the behavior are discovered, you focus on the best strategies to address the behavior.

Common reasons underlying destructive behavior are stress (including frustration and fear) and boredom. There may be more complex explanations for the behavior such as "displacement" behavior. (Displacement, in this situation, involves directing behavior at a nearby object when the dog cannot reach what it really wants to reach. An example would be chewing on a chair next to a window, when the dog really wants to get at a stray dog that has wandered up on the porch).

Some steps to take:

Ensure that your Basenji has adequate exercise and stimulation. This will help with boredom and will contribute to your Basenji's sense of well being.

Instead of feeding your dog in a bowl, scatter its kibble on the ground and let it find its food. Or stuff it in a tricky treat ball, Kong, or other dog treat dispensing type toy. This takes more energy than you would imagine. If you have multiples dogs, you should separate the dogs so they do not fight over each others food stuffed item. To make it more fun and challenging, hide the treat and let the dog find it. Use the command "Find it." Make it an easy find at first so your dog is successful. You can make it harder depending on your dog's problem solving skills. Give him lots of praise.

A tired Basenji is a good Basenji. Take your Basenji for a walk on leash at least once every day. Any outing is better than no outing. Granted, your slow human pace is not challenging for a Basenji, but the outing itself and the opportunity to sniff, sniff, sniff, will help your Basenji feel more contented when alone. While out on those walks, take different routes, allow your dog time to get in plenty of sniffing, and, if possible, try tossing out little treats for your Basenji to "find" while on the walk. He will be very proud of himself.

Practice various exercises with your Basenji as a matter of routine. Have him "sit" before you put on his leash, before you let him out the door to the yard, before he gets his meals.

Learn the appropriate use of a crate and umbilical cord. Using these tools will keep your dog safe, your possessions safe, and will give your Basenji a chance to learn other skills and to mature.

Most Basenjis can be trained rather quickly to be content in their crates during the day while no one is home. Crating coupled with adequate exercise, plenty of time outside the crate, a stimulating crate setting (looking out a window with a good view) and wonderful treats in the crate is humane and effective.

An umbilical cord is useful while you are home and want to supervise your Basenji. Simply take a leash—a six-foot leash is good for this—and put it on your dog. Then run a belt through the handle of the leash and put on the belt. Now your dog is connected to you and your hands are free. At first it is a bit awkward, but your dog will quickly learn to follow along with you as you go about your business and to settle down and chew on a chew toy while when you are sedentary. When he is chewing appropriately and settled down, praise him and let him know that what he is doing is very good.

Remove temptation to minimize risk of damage.

Limit access, where possible, by using baby gates.

Use a variety of chew toys. Dogs typically relieve stress by chewing. Young dogs also chew to relieve the discomfort with teething.

Do not leave special chew toys lying around. Keep them stored and bring them out for entertainment time. This will keep them more interesting to your Basenji.

The Kong, you know, those funny looking red rubber ribbed toys, can be a great source of entertainment for your dog. Go to the Kong company's page of recipes and prepare to be amazed. No dog-owning home should be without one (or more) of these toys.

Practice praising your dog for good behavior. Interrupt and redirect unacceptable behavior. Do not punish your Basenji for destructive behavior. Either increase supervision or remove the temptation.


Extremely Timid

Basenjis are typically not a timid breed. But a rescue Basenji who has been denied human contact may become very timid and frightened around people.

First of all, give the timid Basenji plenty of time. Time to explore, to find hiding places, and to approach you. You should offer a safe place—a crate or other enclosed area where the dog will feel safe. With a safe place always at the ready, your timid Basenji may feel more bold about exploring an becoming more adventurous.

Other pets might be helpful to your timid Basenji. Basenjis are very smart, and can learn from other Basenjis, or even other dogs or cats. Let your timid Basenji see the other pets going on walks, being held in your lap, etc.

Put your timid Basenji on a leash tied to your waist for a period of time each day. It's tough to do this all day long, but keeping your timid Basenji with you as you go about your household chores will get her accustomed to being out and about, and being in close contact with you.

Sit on the floor… your timid Basenji may see height as a threat or a measure of alpha status. You may find your timid Basenji running from you when you are standing, but sitting in your lap when you are on the floor. This is particularly important for men, whose height and deeper voice may prove more scary to a timid Basenji. (See article on Dislikes Men/Women.)

Giving your timid Basenji time and making her feel safe will give her the opportunity to assert herself and feel comfortable in your care.


First Basenji But Not Your First Dog

If this is your first Basenji, here are a few things to help you learn about your new companion.

Brief History Basenjis originated in Africa and were very important to the tribesman in that area. The Basenji aided in hunting and flushing game for their owners and therefore was a significant help and means of attaining food for their family. Because of this the Basenji was of utmost importance to his owners, sometimes even fetching a higher price than a wife. Basenjis often wore a bell made out of a gourd in their native country in order to be easily located or to flush game. The Basenji also resembles many drawings of dogs in ancient Egyptian artwork and it is strongly believed that there is a link in origin here. Many attempts were made to bring and establish the Basenji in England and they were first seen at Crufts in 1895. However the breeds foundation stock were recorded to have been imported in 1936 by Mrs. Olivia Burn. The first Basenjis were brought to America in 1937 but were not successfully bred until 1940-1941 by Alexander and Mary Phemister. The Basenji was recognized by American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1944.

Best known things about Basenjis:

  • Barkless
  • Independent
  • Stubborn
  • Escape artists
  • Climbers
  • Quiet—While this breed is considered barkless, they are not mute. Yodels, chortles, loud dog yawns, growling, whining, and screaming are all among the vocal repertoire of the Basenji.
  • Wakes aggressively
  • Can be dog aggressive, especially the females
  • Destructive
  • Have a high prey drive and a high instinct to chase
  • Considered only "semi-domesticated"
  • Aloof with strangers
  • Sensitive to cold temperatures
  • Forage more than most breeds. Food left on the table or counter tops are fair game.
  • Bolting if let off leash. Because of their prey drive and independent nature, many Basenjis have become victims of the automobile. Take care and be cautious.

Even so, Basenjis are still wonderful companions and can be:

  • Cuddlers—They like the company of their humans and do not do well when this is taken from them
  • Fastidious—Basenjis clean themselves like a cat, often using their front paws to do so, but don't tend to like water. Basenjis will sometimes even try to avoid pottying outside in wet weather. The will also clean their owners, or any other family members, especially when wet. Some Basenjis will roll on wet bath towels or mats as well.
  • Champion sunbathers
  • Curious

Not all Basenjis exhibit each of these traits but rather each one has its own personality. Take time to get to know your Basenji and enjoy their unique personalities.

Remember that we are here as a resource to help with counseling for any problems or questions that may arise during this crucial transition time for both you and your new Basenji.


First Dog Is A Basenji

At this point we're sure you've evaluated your lifestyle and decided or even already have your first Basenji. It is important to work on and establish the bond that you will have its whole life long. It is not unusual for some Basenjis to take four or more months to adjust to a new home, and of course, others will adjust faster. Be prepared for the latter and it won't be discouraging when the progress is slow. You may also want to visit the articles on House Training, or any of the subjects that may pertain to your Basenji.

While it is important to give your Basenji room when she first comes to your home, it is vital to retain the proper boundaries for her as well. Allowing them to meet you and explore at their own pace does not mean overlooking behavior that is not acceptable in your household. But remember, this dog is new to your home, so don't expect her to know the rules. For example of your Basenji puts her front paws on you for attention or treats and you do not want to allow this behavior, then don't scold her, this will only teach fear. The best approach is to move her front paws off the object while saying "Off!" An even better approach, if you know your Basenji to be a jumper, is to let her drag a leash around the house. Look for signs that she will jump up and stop them before they start. Signs could be when new people come to visit, when you come home from work, when the dog gets too excited. The body will also show that the dog is ready to jump up on you. Watch your dog and learn to see this body movement and stop the action before it starts or the exact moment it starts. This is a highly reinforcing lesson to catch your dog at this time. When you suspect the dog will jump, just step on the leash right at the point that it touches the floor. Then when the dog rears up, it is stopped. Immediately say "Off" in unison with the dog trying to rear. If you don't want your dog on your furniture then don't let it do this, even at the beginning when it's easy to be tempted to. If it's going to be the rule, then make it be from the beginning. It is much harder to train out something than to train in something.

After enough time for the dog to adjust well enough and gain confidence then you should start some basic obedience training. If you adopted a Basenji with some of this already trained, hallelujah!, your halfway there. However, work on these things too because your commands may be different and it's always good to practice. The more the dog is not used to a command the more treats and praise you give when a good dead is performed. Then as the response to the command becomes better and better you can phase out the amount of treats and praise, but never totally stop. Always praise even the most reliable commands at least some of the time. Obedience always helps a dog's confidence if you do it correctly. Lavish on the praise when they get it right because when the dog knows you are happy with what he did she becomes happier and more at ease knowing her place. There are many fun things to do with a dog so when she's completely adjusted you might want to take an obedience training class. We recommend clicker training classes because this focuses on positive reinforcement and is fun for the dog and the owner. You can even take it further and get involved in agility, lure coursing, obedience, field trials, fly ball, frisbee or even freestyle (a dance class with your dog). But at the least you can teach your dog to be a well behaved member of society and maybe even to do a few tricks for your friends.

Socializing is an important function for your Basenji but it is very important to know when he is ready. Your Basenji Rescue and Transport coordinator can help you with this. Dogs are a pack animal and are happiest when they are near their humans. Obedience classes allow the beginning of the socialization process. We think this is a great beginning because you have the dog on a leash and while you and your Basenji are primarily interacting, the Basenji can sniff and see other dogs. Be aware that sometimes dogs can be "snarky" or rude and growling when at the end of the leash. This is could be for several reasons, including the fact that the leash emboldens them because they know the owner is right there to back them up, or because they are frustrated that they can't get to the other dog in a way that pleases them. In any case, if your dog does this give out a good, sharp, low "Ack!" and take your Basenji away from the dog that it's directing this at. Go to another dog, perhaps one you know your Basenji does not have a problem with and when she behaves, give her lots of praise. After you feel comfortable with this you may want to visit an enclosed dog park. This is a great place to socialize your dog and being off leash gives them so much freedom that they are almost always better behaved with each other, as always though, there are some exceptions. Dog day care is also a rapidly growing business and dogs love this. It also helps owners who have a bit of guilt for leaving their dogs home all day while working. Many people take their dogs once or twice a week so the dog can have a change.

During the next few months it is important to try to get to know your dog. Observe her and learn her limits and her strong points. Praise the good things she does readily. It can be easy to just be grateful for the good things, but take it one step further and when you see her lying on the floor being good or chewing one of her designated toys, tell her what a good girl she is and give her a treat. If you do this consistently, reprimands will be necessary less often. Take things slowly, especially things she might fear. Praise her when she is brave. For example, my Basenji was afraid of kid's bikes and anything that kids used with wheels. She usually came across them when kids were on them so I waited until I'd see one lying around without a kid attached. I'd walk her by it, taking care not to push too far and ignoring her when she backed up and got nervous, however, one day, after she realized they didn't attack, she started to approach and sniff, I acted like this was the best thing she could have ever done. Her confidence grows and now she is approaching kids more readily. I must add though, that she is still very shy even after being with me for six months. All I have done in these months is work slowly to acclimate her to her new home and nothing more. Know the point at which your dogs fear turns into panic and never take it that far. Work very closely with your counselor on such issues. Above all, sit back take it easy and enjoy getting to know your wonderful new family member. And remember that we are always here for you and your Basenji, no matter how small the matter.


Health Issues

Fanconi Syndrome

Fanconi syndrome is a disease of the kidneys which, left untreated, will cause death. When the renal tubes lose their ability to absorb nutrients (including essential vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and bicarbonates) and instead excrete them in the urine, the animal develops acidosis, loses body mass and wastes away. Symptoms of Fanconi include excessive drinking and urination. Most dogs with Fanconi become symptomatic between the ages of five and seven, but it has been diagnosed in dogs as young as three and as old as 11. Early diagnosis is critical in extending the dog’s life.

Beginning at age three or earlier, all Basenjis should have their urine checked monthly using test strips for diabetics’ urine glucose testing.

Positive diagnosis consists of confirming the presence of glucose in the urine accompanied by normal blood glucose. Following diagnosis, a venous blood gas test will be done to determine the appropriate level of supplementation needed. By following Dr. Steve Gonto’s Fanconi Protocol, an afflicted Basenji can often live a normal lifespan.

Fanconi is believed to be hereditary, but no clear inheritance pattern has been found, so all Basenjis must be considered to be at risk. It is estimated that 10-15% of all Basenjis will eventually develop Fanconi. See our Fanconi page for much more information on this disease.

IPSID

Immunoproliferative small intestine disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. Symptoms of IPSID include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and loss of appetite. IPSID seems to have a strong hereditary component. Food allergies, infections, and stress are also factors in triggering it. Definitive diagnosis is usually done by biopsy after other causes have been ruled out. It is treated with a combination of drug therapy and dietary adjustments.

Eye Diseases

The most common eye disorder in the Basenji breed is Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM). When the membrane that covers a puppy’s eyes before birth is not reabsorbed by the time the pup is four or five weeks old, the condition is called PPM. These strands seldom cause serious vision problems or blindness, except for the very worst cases.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) will cause blindness. It is progressive and most PRA affected dogs appear normal when young, but begin to suffer from night blindness, leading inevitably to total blindness. It can be diagnosed by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists. There is no treatment.

Thyroid Problems

In Basenjis, hypothyroidism (under active thyroid) is the most common form of the disorder. Diagnosis is reached by having a full thyroid panel done. A low normal reading in a Basenji should be viewed as unhealthy. Hypothyroidism is fairly common in the Basenji breed and if not treated, can result in many physical and behavioral problems including, but not limited to, weight gain, poor coat, aggression, lethargy, mood swings, seizures and chronic infections. Thyroid panels should be done at regular intervals throughout the Basenji’s life. Thyroid supplementation is inexpensive, but must be continued for the lifetime of the dog.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is relatively rare but not unknown in the Basenji breed. As a dysplastic dog ages, the hip joints become loose causing instability to the joint. It can cause pain and problems in movement. Diagnosis is by X-ray.

Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic anemia (HA) was once a serious problem for the breed. It has practically been eliminated through genetic testing of breeding stock going back to the 1970’s. This hereditary disease of the red blood cells led to early death in afflicted dogs. Basenjis with HA seldom live past the age of two.

This is not a definitive discussion of Basenji health issues. There are websites with much more in depth information about Basenji health at the Basenji Club of America's web site. Click on About Basenjis, then Health Information.


House Training

This article deals in general terms with the topic of basic house training. It does not cover problems associated with peeing or pooping after a Basenji has been relatively reliably house trained.

In all instances, it is recommended that you treat a newly adopted Basenji as if she is not house trained and provide the support, supervision, rewards, and praise used with a pup in basic training.

There are some important principles related to house training that will serve well to successfully house train a Basenji.

They include:

Successful house training requires a high level of supervision. Accidents related to house training should never, ever, ever be punished. The responsibility to ensure success is really on the humans' shoulders and is carried out by consistent, attentive supervision. If a Basenji has an accident in the house, improve your supervision; watch for sniffing.

If you notice your Basenji in the process of pottying in the house, make a sharp sound with your voice to get your dog’s attention, then lead it outside to finish pottying.

An umbilical cord is a very useful tool in house training. An umbilical cord is basically a leash that is worn by your Basenji. Instead of holding the leash, you run a belt through the handle and you can control your Basenji while keeping your hands free. This arrangement allows you to keep your Basenji nearby and under supervision while you go about your business.

A comfortable crate is another very useful tool for house training. Dogs generally will chose to potty away from the places where they eat and sleep. Consequently, a crate provides a safe and comfortable resting place to a well-exercised Basenji when your attention cannot be focused on your Basenji. Overuse of time in a crate can create many, many problems and will undermine the use of this very useful tool.

Dogs remember what gets them goodies! If they potty appropriately and you praise them lavishly and give them wonderful treats, they won’t forget. It is a wonderful way to communicate to your Basenji that you like this pottying outside.

Dogs like routine. Once they are on a schedule, they will generally stick with that schedule. A deviation from that schedule should be noted as it could be a sign of a problem. Pay attention and keep a log of when your dog eats and when it potties.

By using a cue word or phrase (such as “good potty”) coupled with a treat when your Basenji eliminates, your Basenji will learn to potty on cue.

By taking your Basenji to the same spot in your yard to potty during house training, you can establish this habit in your Basenji. This can, however, backfire, when you are traveling with your Basenji who may become very uncomfortable pottying anywhere else.

Dogs almost always sniff, sniff, sniff around for that perfect spot, before they potty. This sniffing is distinctive and can serve as a cue to you that it is time to get your dog to the yard to potty. Often the sniffing is in a circle. Pay attention and there will be payoffs in successful house training.

Dogs are not grazing animals. If you leave food out for them to eat throughout the day and night (known as “free feeding”), you will create unnecessary problems in house training. Their digestive processes, which include elimination, are developed for a life where they eat a fairly large amount of food at one time (within a couple of minutes). In other words, they “gorge,” rest briefly, eliminate, and then sleep for quite a while. This cycle is normal for dogs and contributes to house training.

Dogs generally have a preferred surface to potty on. Observing the type surface your dog prefers to potty on can help you create a situation that will contribute to your house training efforts.

Cleaning up urine and feces is best done with paper towels and clean cold water, followed by a light treatment with dish washing liquid and more cold water, and a final treatment with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle. Most household cleaners will not accomplish what you want. They will not eliminate the scent that will bring the dog back to that spot. The enzymatic cleaners will.

“Marking” is a behavior done by both males and females. It is an action that serves a number of functions including relieving stress from a perceived threat or saying “I have been here.” Again, it should never be punished. For the most part, it can be managed much like regular house training and removing any source of stress. Marking is characterized by a small squirt of urine rather than an emptying of the bladder. When they arrive in a new home, many dogs will mark a few spots and it will not happen again. Clean it up and go on with the business of house training. Do not spend time dwelling on this. Focus on supervision.


House Training Regression

This article addresses the situation where a Basenji has been reliably house trained, but that is no longer the case. This is not an uncommon occurrence. The following are some important principles to remember that are key to successfully addressing this issue.

Do not punish lapses or regression in house training. While this is a bothersome issue to deal with and can be perplexing, it is important to approach this issue from a problem-solving perspective.

Dogs do not change established behaviors without a reason. Once the reason for the change in behavior is identified, the appropriate course of action can be taken. The first step to take is to describe specifically what has occurred. This will lead you to the reason(s) underlying the change in behavior. The following examples provide guidance for you on important aspects of the problem to observe and also offer a few examples of the different reasons the problem developed. These examples are not all inclusive.

Examples:

Inadequate description of the new behavior: “My dog is peeing in the house all the time now and she hasn’t done that for six months.”

The above description does not provide enough information to begin identification of underlying causes of the problem.

More thorough description of the new behavior:

“It has been six months since my Basenji has peed in the house. When I am home, she would always let me know she needed to go out by scratching on the door. When I am gone, I have always left her loose in the house, because she has never been destructive. For the past three days I have noticed a pee spot on the carpet. It is not just a little spot; there is a lot of pee there. I have a male Basenji, but I don’t think he is the one peeing because the spots are on the floor, not near a piece of furniture as if he has lifted his leg. I have only noticed the pee spots if I have been gone for more than two hours, even though she would regularly hold it for much, much longer than that. I always take her out to potty before I leave. Otherwise, she is eating and drinking just fine and she doesn’t seem upset about anything. This morning I noticed she was licking herself a lot.”

The situation described above could very well be caused by a bladder infection and requires a visit to the veterinarian. Other medical complications that contribute to changes in pottying behaviors are diabetes, Fanconi syndrome, etc.

Still, another thorough description of the new behavior: “It has been months since my Basenji has peed house. Once she learned to use the doggie door, she stopped pottying in the house completely. In the past five days, she seems to have forgotten everything she knew. Not only is she peeing in the house, she is pooping, too. This past weekend I began going out with her and that seemed to have solved the problem, but she doesn’t seem to want to go out by herself through the doggie door. When I am home, she always lets me know when she wants to go out; I don’t have to remind her. She doesn’t seem to be pottying more than normal and she is not having diarrhea. She seems to be feeling just fine.”

The situation described above could stem from a number of problems primarily based on fear and/or anxiety. Perhaps something happened with the doggie door and now she is afraid of it. Perhaps there are new people or dogs in the adjacent yards that are worrying her and she only feels secure in the yard with her person present. Perhaps this Basenji was frightened one day by a hot air balloon passing overhead while she was alone in the yard (many dogs are terrified of hot air balloons). Perhaps she went out the doggie door one day and was frightened by a meter reader. As you can see, many things could have frightened her. More questions are called for.

If the problem is not medical in nature, a behavioral plan is called for. Behavioral plans require consistency in their execution and an understanding that there are likely to be adjustments in the plan. Observations on how the plan is working are essential.

Remain alert to changes other than medical issues.


Introducing To Other Dogs

Basenjis tend to have "attitude" which can make introductions to new dogs difficult, especially if you are bringing another dog into your home. However, there are many things you can do to ease the transition and get things off on the right foot.

Keep in mind that Basenjis are sometimes gender aggressive. You will have much more success introducing a male and a female than you will introducing two dogs of the same gender. Additionally, take care when introducing a Basenji to a very small dog that may be perceived as prey.

Below we'll talk about introducing a second Basenji into your home.

First of all, head for neutral ground. Choose a place that neither Basenji will feel the need to protect. If this area includes a fenced space, all the better. Start by walking both Basenjis on leash, each with a separate human handler. Don't allow them to greet quite yet. Follow a curving path such as a figure eight, walking towards the other Basenji, then walking away without making contact. Keep leashes loose and distract as necessary. See Dog Aggression On Leash. As the Basenjis pull less and become bored with one another, allow for closer contact and brief sniffs, until they are finally face to face.

At this point, you will hopefully be seeing only friendly sniffing; however, in the event of any growling or aggressive behavior, distract by walking between them (no hands or pulling on the leash!), then continue with the walking exercise until you can bring it to a friendlier conclusion.

If the Basenjis are friendly, give them more latitude to interact, eventually dropping their leashes (letting them drag) so they can freely be together in the neutral fenced area. (If there is no fenced area, head to your home yard at this time.) If they have disagreements—and Basenjis can sound really nasty—but you see no evidence of real harm (no blood, no one clearly dominating the discussion, no real battle) leave them alone. If things begin to escalate, you may step between them, using your body to distract them from an intense moment. Do not reach down with your hands. If you think it's too serious, step on the leashes to stop and separate them until they calm down. Then try again.

You may notice one Basenji trying to mount the other, regardless of gender. This is a way dogs assert dominance. Allow it, unless it escalates into a fight. You may also notice other body language such as lip licking (nervousness) or turning heads away (stay calm, don't confront me) and yawning (an attempt to calm the other dog).

After 20 minutes or half an hour of this, walk the Basenjis to their home yard together. Let them interact in the home yard for a short time before bringing them into the house. Make sure all toys and food are picked up to reduce the possibility of a fight.

Once in the house, continue to let the leashes drag. This is for your protection as well as the Basenji's. Separating battling Basenjis up close will get you bitten. If things go well, you can shorten the leashes, but letting them drag a two foot "tab" for the first week is probably a good idea. You might consider using a muzzle as a precaution during this time.

Learn to safely break up any serious fights. Never put your hands into harm's way! Yelling or another sudden, loud noise can often break up a fight. Try water (a hose), a blanket, a laundry basket. Shaking the treat jar is always distracting. Be prepared for the possibility of fights, and have a plan for breaking them up.


Leash Pulling and Walking Your Basenji

Basenjis can be terrible leash pullers. This can make much-needed walks very unpleasant for you. Read on for pulling solutions.

Collars and Harnesses

Though a regular collar with identification should be on your dog at all times, you should consider using an alternative collar or harness specifically designed to discourage pulling.

With any collar or harness, be sure to check the fit occasionally. Some people swear that nylon collars and harnesses stretch. Because Basenjis can be terrific escape artists, make sure to check that the collar or harness is snug enough to prevent the Basenji from backing out. When adjusted properly, you should be able to put two fingers under the collar.

We do not advocate the use of metal choke chains or pinch collars. Choke chains have become commonplace. They are not only ineffective as training aids, they also cause a number of serious injuries. Both choke and pinch collars are aversive devices that will cause pain to your dog.

Regular harnesses are usually made of nylon with the attachment ring positioned on the dog's back. Believe it or not, these can actually encourage pulling. They are better from a health standpoint, taking pressure off the neck, but they make pulling more comfortable for the dog so off they go. If your dog doesn't pull, these are a good choice.

A martingale collar, typically made of flat nylon webbing, is a type of collar with no buckle; it slips over the dog's head. This type of collar provides more control without the choking effect of a slip collar. The collar tightens firmly around the neck, but does not choke. This collar will not stop your dog from pulling during walks, but does provide a great measure of safety against your Basenji slipping its head out of the collar.

The Gentle Leader, probably the best known head harness, is a product made by Premier. If adjusted properly, the Gentle Leader can work quite well to curtail pulling, and will not slip off. Some dogs will learn to adapt to the Gentle Leader and will continue to pull, but not as much as with a regular collar.

If you're a new dog owner, we recommend the use of a 4- to 6- foot nylon or leather leash at first. For training, a regular six-foot nylon or leather leash is recommended. When you and your dog walk nicely together, you might want to graduate to a retractable leash, like the Flexi.

They are very popular because they give your dog a bit more freedom when walking on leash. The down side is that it can be difficult to control your Basenji with a Flexi; you have to be on guard that your Basenji doesn't dash into the street or pull the leash from your hand. The Flexi comes in 16- and 26-feet lengths, so your dog is walking, circling, or lunging around, ahead, or behind you at quite a distance. Flexis do have an easy-to-use "brake" that you should practice using. One of our volunteers has been using Flexis to walk all her Basenjis for 16 years and reports that none of her Flexis have ever snapped out of the casing. However, they do break, and when the cord won't retract, the device is a goner. The Flexi should not be used in obedience classes, or when you're training your dogs to walk "politely" on leash. A flexible leash should never be used with a Gentle Leader.

Many dog owners recommend, hands-down, the SENSE-ation and SENSE-ible harnesses from Softouch Concepts and the Easy Walk harness from Premier. Both are innovative harnesses that discourage pulling. These look like a regular harness but the leash attaches to a ring positioned on the dog's chest. This type of harness is very well regarded.

Walking Your Basenji

If you have a pulling Basenji, get the right walking harness and you're ready to go out and have fun.

Walks are very exciting for dogs. There are so many things to see and smell! If a Basenji isn't walked daily and used to the routine of walking, you may have an out-of-control dog on your hands. In this scenario, it's almost impossible to work on obedience training. Because you want your dog to succeed, skip any formal training and just have fun on your walks. You'll have plenty of time for obedience training later.

If you feel you must try some obedience training, keep it fun and easy for you and the dog. The trick is to make yourself more interesting than things encountered on a walk. This means you need to carry a good supply of high-value treats, preferably treats that the dog does not get at home. Start out with easy commands like "Watch me!" Say, "Watch me" in a happy voice. When the dog looks up at you, pop a treat in his mouth within 3-5 seconds and praise like crazy. If the dog doesn't look at you, put the treat to his nose and "lure" his face to your eyes. Treat and praise. Always take along treats to use for distraction, praise, and re-call, if necessary. Once your Basenji knows that you always have treats, you might be amazed at how interested he is in you.

And this is important: Don't overload your dog with calories from treats. A dog will work for a treat the size of a pea.

The next step is to work toward walking on a loose leash so that walking on leash is a mutually pleasant activity. At first your Basenji will love dragging you from tree to tree. (With a good harness this will be minimized.) Work on teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash but it's not necessary to teach a perfect heel.

Hold the end of your leash tightly at your waist and start walking. The second there is tension on the leash from your dog walking ahead of you, make a u-turn and start walking in the other direction. As you do, say in a cheerful tone, "Oops" or "Turn." Commit to a word for turning and be consistent. The timing of this needs to be immediate. Do not drag or yank your dog along as you turn and walk. Just turn and keep walking. Every time there is tension on the leash, say, Oops and make a u-turn, walking the other way. (In the beginning, people who use this technique sometimes don't get out of the driveway because it's pull, u-turn, pull, u-turn, pull, u-turn.) The idea is to get your dog to pay attention to what you're doing.

As your Basenji comes to realize that staying near you, paying attention to you, and walking nicely by your left side means a treat, you will be surprised to see your Basenji beginning to do these things on his own! But don't expect perfection. After all, this is his walk. It is his exercise, and his fun time to explore the world. Allow for plenty of sniffing and exploring. Walks should be fun for both


Muzzle Training

A muzzle is also a great help when you trim nails, give baths, administer fluids, introduce your Basenji to other critters, or plan to lure course.

Muzzles are available in many types, but the most comfortable is one with a plastic basket, also called a cage muzzle. It is very lightweight and your Basenji can easily breathe, drink and take treats with it on, a great feature when at the vet's.

Once you have your muzzle, you need to train your Basenji to accept it. The best way is to use it something like a feed bag. Put some treats in it and let your Basenji eat out of it. Slowly progress to slipping the strap behind the ears and letting your Basenji wear the muzzle while eating the treats out of it. You will be amazed at how quickly your Basenji adjusts to wearing a muzzle when he knows there are treats involved!


Nipping and Mouthy Behavior

It's never a good idea to allow your Basenji to put his teeth on your skin ... even if it seems to be in play and good fun. A Basenji that is accustomed to being allowed to do this will be much more apt to bite in anger, because it is comfortable with communicating with you via its teeth.

Many Basenjis, particularly puppies, do like to bite humans in play. Often they will chew on your hands or even take your arm in their teeth. Getting silly during play, they may jump up at you and grab your clothes. Although it may seem harmless, it's in the best interest of both Basenji and human to not allow this kind of behavior.

Basenjis as puppies learn what is called bite inhibition. During the first few weeks of life, puppies are exploring their world and one of their discoveries is the joy of biting. Their first victim is their littermates. However, littermates bite back! And the puppy quickly learns that biting hurts. However, if a puppy is weaned prior to learning this very important lesson, it will present much more of a challenge to correct.

The first technique to teach your Basenji not to play bite is to yelp when the teeth hit your skin. The Basenji will look startled, and then likely will begin licking your hand. If so, the correction has been effective.

The second technique is to suddenly ignore and walk away from your Basenji when those teeth hit your skin. Basenjis hate to be ignored and the sudden ending of their playtime will make a huge impression on them.

The third technique is to replace your hand with a toy. This is especially effective when your Basenji is a puppy and prone to chew on most anything!

It will take time and work to correct this behavior. It is very important to be consistent and firm or your Basenji will not get the message that biting is not acceptable.


Poorly Socialized With Other Dogs

One thing to keep in mind is that Basenjis do tend to be more dog aggressive than other breeds and even a well socialized Basenji may not take a fancy to every dog he meets.

If you are seeking advice on Introducing To Other Dogs please refer to that article. We are going to discuss ways to socialize your Basenji around other dogs at parks, during neighborhood walks, etc.

Usually when a dog is poorly socialized with other dogs it stems from fear and inexperience or lack of exposure. The idea is to slowly introduce your Basenji to other dogs while at the same time making sure that all interactions with other dogs are positive ones.

Don't expect too much too soon. Unrealistic expectations are unfair to both you and your Basenji.

Start with a very controlled environment. Don't take your Basenji to a park or area where other dogs may be off lead and able to approach your dog. Pet stores are great because all dogs are on leash at all times. In these environments you can control how much interaction or exposure your Basenji has with other dogs.

Attach a short leash to your dog and make sure to fill your pocket with plenty of his favorite bite-sized treats. Dried liver or bits of hot dogs or cheese work well.

The idea is to get your Basenji used to being out among other dogs without him displaying fear or aggression. He doesn't have to meet and greet dogs but he shouldn't fall apart at the sight of them either. Keep him close to your side but on a fairly loose leash. If you are nervous or anxious, he will pick up on this and may feel he needs to protect you when other dogs approach.

Walk toward the pet store and talk to him in a casual tone. If he seems fearful upon seeing another dog continue to talk to him in a calm, casual tone. If he starts to lunge or display aggressive behaviors you can firmly tell him, "no growl!" but keep walking. If you hesitate or turn around he will read this as a validation of his fear or dislike. Again, make sure he is close to your side and is in no danger of coming into contact with the other dog. Talk to him calmly until the dog passes. If he hesitates but then continues when you urge him, praise him highly and give him a quick treat.

Catch him being good! Positively reinforce any and all good behaviors no matter how small. Use a lot of verbal praise and then offer a treat once in awhile.

Keep in mind that using a sympathetic tone of voice will only reinforce his fear or aggression. If he hears sympathy in your voice he will assume he is right to feel afraid. Keep the tone positive and casual. "Oh, here comes another dog. No big deal. What a good boy. Look how you walked right by him. Nothing to it. What a good boy you are!"

Keep your first trip to the pet store short. Perhaps just let him walk in, turn around and walk out (assuming that he has seen at least two dogs on his trip). Take him home and spend some one-on-one time with him and end the experience on a positive note.

Gradually increase the length of your visits. If your dog is just a bit nervous and unsure, you may be able to work up to longer visits rather quickly. If you have a dog that is overly anxious, you may have to slow the pace down and take several short trips to the store before increasing the duration. Eventually you will want to be able to walk up and down the aisles of the pet store and let him grow increasingly comfortable in the company of other dogs. Continue to reward him with bits of treats and verbal praise.

Every walk is a learning experience! These same rules apply for walks around your neighborhood, at parks, etc. Bring treats along and remember to catch him being good! Let him know how much you approve of him when he walks by a dog without cowering or lunging.

Obedience training also proves to be invaluable in these cases, especially with a dog that is more fearful or aggressive acting than most. It may take a lot of practice on you and your Basenji's parts, but teaching him a reliable heel will work wonders for his confidence as well as yours! A dog who has been through a few obedience courses can also be taught to do a "sit" or "down" when another dog approaches. If you see another dog approaching you while on a walk, you can move off the sidewalk and put your Basenji in a "sit" or "down" until the other dog passes. Again, praise him lavishly.

You may want to consider a harness or Gentle Leader while walking your dog. This will give you more control but is very humane to a dog that may get anxious and pull or lunge. If you feel you have more control of you dog, you will have more confidence and be more relaxed and your Basenji will pick up on this.

Take things slowly. Don't get discouraged if it seems as if there is little or no progress being made. In the beginning, you will have good days and bad days. Be consistent and one day you will notice that you are having far more good days than bad. The key is staying relaxed and calm, projecting this attitude to your Basenji, and always catch him being good. Praise, praise, praise!


Poorly Socialized With People

Basenjis are very curious little creatures and most of them generally like to inspect any newcomer into the home. Yes, some Basenjis tend to be aloof but, there is a difference between being aloof and being frightened and unsure around people. If a Basenji is not well socialized with people, this issue needs to be addressed for your peace of mind as well as your Basenji's.

Don't overwhelm your Basenji. Start by introducing him to one person or new situation at a time.

Remember the power of food! With most dogs, food makes friends.

Walk your Basenji around a populated park or a pet store. Keep him on leash and talk to him as he passes people. Don't let anyone approach him or talk to him, simply let him get used to being among them.

Next, choose a place where your dog feels comfortable. For some people this may be the home but other Basenjis may feel protective of their home and be more nervous when a person enters it. In this case, choose a park or a neighbor's yard.

While you sit with your Basenji (on a loose leash if you are out in public), have a friend approach you. Your friend should not look at or acknowledge the Basenji. Greet your friend in a normal, casual manner. If you are petting your Basenji, continue to stroke him as you talk to your friend. If you feel your Basenji tense up, growl or try to back away try to hold him close to you but continue to talk. If you're sitting on a couch or park bench you can have your friend sit next to you with your Basenji on your other side. Remember to verbally praise your dog while he sits there (even if he seems nervous). You can even pause to give him a bite of his favorite treat now and then.

Depending on how your dog reacts, you may need to end your session here. Bid your friend goodbye after a minute or two and have them leave. Praise your dog and give him a treat.

When your Basenji seems to be a bit more comfortable with this, you can have your friend begin to acknowledge him. There should be no contact the first time. Have your friend approach, sit down and begin to talk. Next, have your friend talk to your Basenji. Lavish compliments work. Basenjis love to hear how beautiful they are! Have your friend say something like, "What a handsome boy you are! What a good boy. Max is so sweet…" Continue to praise and reward your dog.

Your friend should come bearing gifts for the next visit. After approaching you and initially ignoring the Basenji (eventually all Basenjis hate to be ignored and their vanity and curiosity get the best of them!), they can offer your dog a few kind words and compliments. Next, have your friend offer a treat to your Basenji by offering it palm up. Food makes fast friends.

Not all dogs will have to go through all these steps. If your Basenji seems to do pretty well when your friend approaches the first time, you may want to have your friend start offering food fairly quickly.

Eventually you will want to start taking your Basenji to public places like neighborhood ballparks, pet stores, etc. See if you can get different people to approach your Basenji and offer him a treat. Praise your Basenji when he accepts it. If people want to pet your Basenji, make sure they always approach him with hand held palm up. They can let your Basenji smell them and then reach down and scratch him under the chin. Most dogs don't like people leaning over them and reaching their hands behind their line of vision to pat their heads. The point of these exercises is to show your Basenji that people don't have to be feared and that people will treat her kindly.

No matter how well socialized some dogs are with people they may still need to be ignored by guests entering your home. This is ok. There are lots of happy, well-adjusted Basenjis that just need to meet people in their own time and on their own terms. If you have a Basenji that seems to be more aloof, have your guests come in, sit down and chat and go about their business. In time, the Basenji will approach, as the urge to investigate is usually much stronger than the urge to ignore.

Getting involved in classes and activities with your Basenji is another excellent way to boost his confidence (and yours!). Enroll in an obedience class. You can also take beginner's agility or try lure coursing. You don't have to participate competitively in these sports. The idea is to get involved with your Basenji and get him out with other people and dogs, expose him to different things and show him how fun it can all be. These activities can be very enjoyable and rewarding for both of you. His confidence will increase and you will see a big improvement with regards to how he meets new people.

Basenjis are curious and playful by nature. A Basenji that is afraid of people, whether they are guests in his home or strangers on the street, is not as confident and well adjusted as he should be. Socialization is very crucial to the happiness and well being of your Basenji.


Rain Avoidance

It is well known that the average Basenji will not volunteer to go out in the rain just because you think he or she needs to pee. Basenjis can “hold it” a long time and a spell of rainy weather will test your patience. Having a fenced yard means nothing on rainy days.

There is one sure way to get your Basenji outside and that is to leash him up and carry him outside – preferably into the front yard or other area where it is likely other dogs have been walked. The front yard usually gets faster results than the back because it is likelier to have a wider variety of scents for the Basenji to cover with his own scent.

So, don your rain gear, leash the dog, take an umbrella with you (to hold over the dog) and carry your beloved Basenji into the front yard. Once his feet hit the ground he may remember to pee on his way back to the house. But since he is leashed you are in control. Once he has emptied, praise him, let him drag you inside and give the brave little dog a treat.

Alternatively, take the dog on a car ride to a different area. If they don’t pee in the car (always a possibility), they will no doubt be ready to leave their mark on new territory. This urge to pee competitively can overcome their natural dread of rain and wet ground. If you are lucky, they’ll poop too.


Resource Guarding Food, Objects, or People

When a dog gets possessive over objects it is for one of two reasons. Either the item that the dog is guarding is very important to the dog, or the dog is asserting and maintaining its leader status. When your Basenji is exhibiting these behaviors it is of utmost importance to seek guidance in working with this problem. We want to try to stop the problem before it escalates, especially regarding biting someone.

Guarding issues can often arise when a new dog has come into t he household. Especially with shelter or rehomed dogs. At this stressful time the basics in life are of the highest priority to that dog. These all-important things are food, resting spaces, humans (or attention) and even toys. The things that a dog protects depend on the personality of that particular dog and what that dog holds very dear, or is in fear of losing. He will sometimes guard one of these things so much so, that he will protect them, even from a dog or person that he normally would not do this to. The level and severity at which the item is guarded can definitely range from minor to severe, but whatever the severity, it is imperative to ask for assistance in working with this problem.

As well, families with dogs already in the home also have to contend with those dogs becoming stressed and worried about possibly losing some of their precious things too. So the very first thing that needs to be done is to remove all objects that could be fought over. Remove all toys, and feed the dogs separately.

Give attention separately from other dogs, taking care to not let them see this going on. Try to keep the balance of giving your own dog plenty of attention while remembering that your new Basenji is worried about being abandoned yet again and may find security in staying close to a particular family member. Keep a leash attached to your new dog while she is with you. This is an all-important technique because it allows you to have control over her without getting too close. For example if she is guarding a space from you, it is easier to take the end of the leash, turn and walk slowly, but resolutely with it until she is away from that area.

For all of these guarding behaviors it will be very important, and helpful to your counselor if you try to learn or notice the patterns, movement, or activities that incite the guarding behavior. For example if the stress of your Basenji increases at meal times because other dogs are around, but decreases when they are put away. Or if a particular family member or movement of your body, say over the dog and into its space sets off this pattern.

Following are some ideas of ways to begin working on a guarding problem until you can get in contact with a counselor and increase or change the program that the counselor will personalize for your dog's needs and particular problem:

Food Guarding

Do not let the dog have free access to food. Make sure all the family members are aware of the problem. Feed the dog throughout the day, or evening from you. In severe cases of guarding, do not feed from your hand rather have a family member hold the dog back from you, only a couple of feet. Put a small amount into your palm, close it, and let it remain there for a few seconds to gather your smell. Let the dog see you place the food on the floor, stand up straight, inches from the food and allow the family member to let the dog to the food while you remain standing. Turn your back to the dog and increase your distance if you're worried about her growling at you. But decide on your distance and body position before you do this exercise. Also make sure the family member holding the leash is strong enough to keep the dog from getting the food until you are ready for them to. Also have this person completely ignore the dog and only act as a kind of post to control the dog's position.

Do this at different locations in the home, this is very important. And the most important part of this exercise is to let your new Basenji see and learn your emotions and body language. Talk to her throughout the exercise to help her learn your voice and how it is paired with body language. To dogs this is very important; their only means of communication. If the dog is behaved on the leash smile at her, praise her quietly the whole time, unless she begins to pull, then frown (even in an exaggerated way) and continue without paying a bit of attention to her, once she is behaved again return to praise and happy faces.

Do this consistently and with all behaviors and she will begin to be able to read your body and facial features as well as your voice to understand when she is disappointing and when she is a good girl. Talk to her quietly while she eats too. The next steps need to be taken with a counselor who can help you by getting to know you and your Basenji.

Toy Guarding

The above can be done for toy guarding with a few minor changes. Again, do not allow there to be toys laying about loose in the home. When it is time for the dog to play freely with a toy or chew (without any other dogs around) take out the designated toy while a family member holds the dog back with its leash. Hold the toy allowing it to gather your scent and then place it on the floor. Follow the directions above and allow the leash holder to let your Basenji see you do this and then get the toy on your command.

You may want to sit on a chair nearby so you can relax but be nearby while your Basenji has free play. The leash can be dropped at this time. Remember to smile and praise her when she is acting proper and frown and ignore improper behavior. If the behavior cannot be ignored because of the severity, or if it continues, then use the leash to walk away calmly, but resolutely from the area. Perhaps even putting the dog in a room or crate for a short while.

In this situation, or when you are ready to stop free playtime, take the leash as instructed above and move her from the toy. Try to set up doing this at a moment when you will be most successful, like when she has tired of the toy and is ignoring it, especially if she moves away from it. Take the toy only when she is a good distance away and someone has control of her, but let her see you take it and have a treat ready to give her, especially if she does not protest your taking the toy. If she does protest taking the toy, have the person holding the leash take her to another room for two minutes, ignoring her the whole time. Then enter the room with the treat, talk to her sweetly and give her the treat for some other good behavior, like not pulling on the leash, or doing a sit if she knows this command. Give her lots of praise for this good dead and end on a good note, always.

People or Place Guarding

When the dog does this take the leash and gently, but resolutely move the dog from in front of the person she is guarding to behind them. The person being guarded needs to do this. Basically you are removing the dog from being in the middle to being at the end of the line, behind the guarded person. If the Basenji is guarding a person from another person then have a tie up available behind the person being guarded. Tie up the dog so it cannot get past you and go to greet and talk to the other person for a few minutes. To continue this treatment, seek the aid of a counselor.

Place guarding: If the dog is guarding a spot from you and keeping you from getting to it, gently get a hold of the end of the leash and move the dog from this position. Depending on how seriously the dog is guarding, for severe cases you may want to leave a long line, like an eight to ten foot rope so you can get to the end of it without threatening the dog. Tie the dog up where it can see you get in that spot and do not let her off until she settles. Then praise her and untie the line. While pulling the dog away from the spot say "Off." (The "down" command is used in obedience training.) By doing this you are teaching your dog what you want by showing it and putting a word to it.

For place guarding if the dog is guarding a spot from someone other than you, or another dog, do the same by removing the dog from the place. If there is another dog do not do this while the other dog can get to her. Secure the non-guarding dog using the leash it is dragging, then remove the dog that is guarding from the spot. This action only requires teaching the dog that this is not acceptable, so put the dog in a place it does not like, or a tie up for two minutes, while frowning and talking to the dog to let her know you are displeased. Yelling is not necessary; dogs have great hearing and are wonderful at learning body language. The stiffness of your body, the expression on your face and your voice tone will all be learned in intricate detail by your dog. To continue these treatments seek the aid of a counselor.


See It Coming

"See It Coming" is a term used for understanding your dog in such a way that you can "see" something coming before it actually happens. Above all, this involves getting to know your dog, which takes some time. An owner cannot always expect to apprehend something in their dog unless they have observed the dog enough. If you have had dogs in the past you have a bit of an advantage because this has enabled you to get to know some basic dog movements and ways of communicating.

Dogs communicate with each other almost entirely through senses that we are not as adept at using, such as body language, first and foremost, but also smell, and sound. Some of the body language is a bit universal to all dogs and previous dog owners may have been able to observe this. But no matter what stage of dog ownership you are in, do realize that it will take time to get to know your Basenji. Here are a few steps to help with being able to read your Basenji, its moods, and its actions.

Get to Know Your Dog: As said above this is very important, but also takes time. Some dogs open up slower than others. It is not uncommon to be seeing and learning new things in your Basenji even seven months after he has arrived. And we have heard many stories where new characteristics were still popping up occasionally as much as a year after your Basenji's arrival.

Use Your Dog's Primary Mode of Communication: Always remember, when working with your Basenji, the ways in which he communicates. Humans speak to each other using language, but dog language is primarily through body signals. Connect your emotions, your speaking, and your body language together so your dog can learn all three and how they coincide. When you do this you help yourself and your dog learn to speak to each other.

Talk to him when you are doing a casual every day thing, when you are happy with the way he is behaving, when he does something cute, and when he disappoints you. He will begin to understand the tone of your voice and even the very subtle changes in your body movements when in those moods. This is a very important step to communicating affectively with your dog.

Observe Your Dog: Take time to watch your new Basenji and notice her body movements when she is in certain moods. Watch her when you approach other dogs. Do her hackles raise, does she get stiff and stand up taller? All these are signs of how she is feeling and what she may do. Pay particular attention to your Basenjis ears and tail during interactions. Because Basenjis have a curled tail it makes it a bit more difficult to see much from the tail, but they will uncurl the tail when they are very scared or stressed, or when they sit down.

For problem areas, such as dog aggression you want to be able to stop these things before they occur and in these cases I urge you to work very closely with your counselor and above all follow your gut feelings. If another dog is approaching and the dog and/or the person seem excited to see you and your dog, do not feel obligated to allow that dog to approach if you have a bad feeling about it. As dog owners it is our responsibility to protect our rights to have dogs, and to uphold a good opinion of dog owners in the general public's eye. Take this seriously and don't feel bad when telling someone to stay back.

Also remember that dogs use sight and sound to communicate. Don't readily reprimand your dog for growling at another dog or person because this is his only way of letting us know how he is feeling. Do reprimand your dog for acting aggressively toward another dog, but not for the warning of it. This is very important to understand and administer correctly. If the dog growls and gets reprimanded he is getting in trouble for the growling, not the action that would have followed. And if we remove the warning then we run the very serious risk of having an attack occur with no warning. Again, if you have a potentially aggressive Basenji whether it is fear or dominance aggression, work very closely with a counselor.


Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety refers to the stress a dog experiences when it is separated from its human companion (or another pet companion it has lived with). When the response is extreme and poses a risk to the dog and/or the dog's environment, steps can be taken to eliminate the stress or reduce it to a tolerable or non-existent level.

When separated from their person, uncrated Basenjis with separation anxiety may engage in house destructive behavior. Crated Basenjis may shred the bedding and toys in their crate, chew and claw on the crate to the extent that they may break teeth or tear their claws, and they may scream or vocalize loudly.

In its extreme form, a dog with separation anxiety a dog it too fearful to leave your side. If you move from room to room, he will follow you consistently. He will wake up when you move about and follow you regardless of the time of day or night. It cannot enjoy basking in the sun in the back yard while you are in the house. The dog simply cannot be away from you. Some dogs will whine a bit when separated from their companion or even chew on their bedding, but the behavior does not overwhelm the dog, and it soon regains its composure. This in only a mild form of separation anxiety.

Prevention: From the first day your Basenji arrives in your home, separate yourself from your Basenji, without fanfare, off and on through the day, by going in the other room. Then allow your new Basenji to see you go in and out the front door numerous times, again, without fanfare. Gradually increase the time you are out of view of your new Basenji. Start by leaving the house for just one or two minutes. Do this every 10 minutes or so over the course of an hour. Then increase your absence time up to 10 minutes.

Practice frequently over a couple of hours. Soon you should be able to leave for ½ an hour and then longer. Be sure and leave your Basenji in a safe setting with something very high value to entertain himself while you are gone. Critical to making this work is to make your absences very brief at first and increase them gradually. Do not increase the period of absence until the dog is comfortable with absences at its current comfort level. If you find the dog is stressed by the increase, fall back to an earlier level.

DO NOT take time off from work and spend every moment with your new Basenji and then, all of the sudden, leave and go to work for hours. This pattern of behavior will create a serious separation problem for your Basenji. If you do plan to take time off, be sure and use the process described above during that time.

Change Up Your Routine. Your Basenji is very observant and notices the routine you have undoubtedly established when you are about to leave him at home alone. As your Basenji watches you go through your daily routine, his anxiety increases. Changing up your routine will help keep the stress level down.

You may be a person who only crates your Basenji when you leave the house. Start crating him briefly while you are home with a very special treat that he only gets while in his crate. Go about your business in the house and after a short while, open the crate.

Start leaving the house through a different door. Move your dog's crate to a new location where he has a wonderful view and will not actually see you go out the door. Put on your thinking cap and think of ways to change up your routine. Practice the changes on the weekend and avoid a situation where you spend every minute with your dog on the weekend; that only heightens the feeling of loss when the workweek begins.

Conclusion: This very brief article only skims the surface of this issue. At the earliest sign that your dog is developing this problem, consider contacting a support person to develop a tailored plan for your Basenji.


Spiteful Behavior/Peeing

Spiteful behavior (or peeing) is one of the great myths that causes harm between dog and human.

Because we humans tend to anthropomorphize (attribute human emotions to our dogs) we think our dogs plot bad behavior when they’re not happy. This is completely untrue. Dog don’t do things out of spite. They just don’t have the cognitive skills.

Dogs do things because they feel good. They work to make good things happen (or make bad things go away) and react to events that occur in their environment.

And unless you catch your Basenji “in the act” it does absolutely no good to scold them after the fact. The dog has no idea what he’s done and the whole scenario can be very confusing to a dog and cause everybody more stress.

There are many reasons for either of these behaviors. On peeing in the house: A rescue may initially be stressed while he’s adjusting to the new routine in your household. The dog may not have been well house trained before you got him. He may not have good access to the yard. He may need more walks. He may be crated too long. It could be a sign of an underlying health issue (like a urinary tract infection). Older dogs may not be able to “hold it” and need more trips outside.

Dogs like to chew. It’s fun to play with and chew on pillows, cushions, furniture, etc. It is uncanny that dogs seem to especially like to chew on things that smell a lot like their humans (like shoes, dentures, eyeglasses). Putting your things away solves this problem; remove the temptation.

Oftentimes dogs will chew and are otherwise destructive because they’re bored or stressed.

These behaviors can escalate without appropriate management. If you can’t get these unwanted behaviors under control, you may need to make a trip to the vet (to rule out a UTI) or call in a behaviorist to evaluate your individual situation.


Time Out

There may be times when your Basenji's behavior is completely "over the top" and obnoxious. When all else fails to get him to settle down, you need to be prepared to use a "time out." This exercise is done in the room where you are so that your dog can see that you are ignoring him. (Dogs need feedback from you while the behavior is occurring in order to understand what you expect.)

To prepare in advance: Attach a leash made of chain to something very secure so that your dog will stay put in his time out area and can not get to you. You have three to five seconds immediately after the behavior has occurred to put your dog in a time-out; if it's any longer than that, your dog won't make the connection that bad behavior equals time out. Do the time out every time it's needed.

The technique: While your dog is engaged in the inappropriate behavior, say, "Time out." in a happy tone. Take him to his time-out area and hook him to the anchored leash. Ignore him for 30 seconds, then release him (as long as he's not whining or screaming). Don't look at, talk to, or give treats while he's in a time out. If he's whining or crying after 30 seconds, you will have to wait for at least five seconds of silence before releasing him. If you release him while he's still vocalizing, he will think his noise got him released. Quiet for at least five seconds is what will get him released.


Wakes Up Grouchy

Waking in an aggressive mood is a sign of a high startle response. Here is a desensitizing exercise that, done slowly and gradually, may help.

The steps:

  • Get the dog used to being touched when awake, feeding treats and praising for being calm;
  • Work on increasing his tolerance to being touched while he's resting;
  • Move on to touching and feeding while he's sleeping.

The method: While your dog is resting (not sleeping), approach quietly and give treats. Praise him quietly for being calm. Try this same technique while the dog is sleeping. Approach slowly and call his name in a happy voice. Pat the furniture or dog bed so he is fully aware of your presence and try giving treats. Praise only if he remains calm. Don't scold if he lunges, growls, or nips at you, and don't give a treat. Just turn and walk away. If this method works, keep at it consistently, but watch for any signs of regression. If your dog shows aggression again, back up to a previous comfort level.

Don't rush this process. Teach your dog the happy association between awakening, touching, and treats so he eventually stops viewing being awakened as a bad thing.

If all else fails, let sleeping dogs lie.