Park behavior social skills help!

  • I have a 2.5 yr old basenji male. Milosh, hes a runner, I take him to my local fenced dog park almost everyday. Recently though hes been picking up the most terrible habbit.

    he loves todo laps around the park when he hears a train passby (local railroad), after train is gone he is still doin the laps, unfortunately he the decides randomly nibble
    the nbearest dog to encurage play.

    the dogs do not like this and mostly screech and fear him when he nibbles- there are a handful of small dogs and owners arent thrilled with me on this outcome, it hasnt gotten too serious-
    but theres been times when it could have-please help!

    will this pass as he gets older? -and what can i do to prevent this behavior? i recently started walking him on the leash inside the park, but it breaks my heart that he isnt
    free running as he enjoys so much!and all other dogs are un leashed.

    i keep my eye on him when the train passes -but hes like a wet fish, so when the issue is at hand its a little too late,and iam cought yelling across the park his familiar
    commands 'leave it'- 'relax'….but he just blacks out to nibblin them dogs for play!.


  • Hi FB, funny you should mention Milosh and the train, we had the same problem with Malaika when we were walking by the canal, a train went past and Malaika ran parallel to it along the banking, we called her back but she was heedless and only stopped when she could no longer hear or see the train. It obviously triggered her prey drive, as does traffic whizzing by. I don't believe it's something they grow out of and probably needs to be managed, however someone else may have some ideas on how to cure ??
    As for the nipping of other dogs, i believe this is how Basenjis play and they can be quite rough. My answer would be get another Basenji for Milosh to play with 😉 😃
    A more serious answer would be not to take him to that park and maybe find other places to walk him.

  • The train is seemingly exciting him and he is then nipping other dogs out of excitement/frustration. You need to take him home and work on obedience until you get a total recall and down. Then you need to go to the park, on a leash or long line, and when you hear the train, put him in a down stay.

    Btw, don't give commands more than once. It weakens them. If they don't respond, go get the dog, don't keep yelling come etc.

  • Do you think he would respond that way to just the sound of a train, (as in artificially generated) versus the sound, vibrations, movement, etc. of being near a train? If so, you can use the sound at home to develop an environmental cue to recall him back to you at the park.

  • At some of the dog parks, the dogs are separated by size. I always took my Bs to the large dogs side. I was concerned about the small fluffy dogs and my Bs mistaking them for bunnies to chase. Also I find Bs play hard and to have a B accidently roll a smaller dog will sometimes scare the owners. The only small dog that my Bs can really play with are Jack Russells and that is usually a chase game, my B chasing the Jack Russell.


  • You just have to bend the behavior in something you like more. So try to find something that's even more interesting then a train, look up the train schedules so you know when the train is passing by, and make sure you can get him to you, by using the treat/toy you have for him at the exact moment you see he notices a train is comming.
    Do that untill he figures out that train=that special treat toy and he will come running to you from as soon as he thinks a train is comming. He should know that pretty quickly if you do it right.

  • First Basenji's

    Voodoo has the advice I would give as well. You have to counter-condition your boy, so the train schedule is paramount to having an edge and allowing you to intercept before the trigger. The nips are definitely not play. It is frustration and the other dogs know this. If he is too excited to eat a treat, the counter condition could be something like a stuff toy on the end of a pole or device that you can control the trajectory and direction to get his 'prey' drive re-directed to the toy and not the dogs. It may end up a good time for all! Good Luck!

  • Here is an excellent tutorial of using the Premack principle to address a similar issue with "fence fighting". Fence fighting was reinforcing for the dog in the video so if running around with the train is a positive experience for Milosh you can use this approach as well…particularly if running around with the train is a bigger reward for him than a treat or a flirt pole. You can use the same approach to build focus in other highly distracting situations as well. If you practice reorienting and checking in a lot when the train is not around it will help. You would probably need to keep him on a check cord like Debra said and combine that with the train schedule.

    As a side note, Premack is used a lot in Control Unleashed training approaches.

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