I have had Jackal for about 2 months now. I found him on craigslist in the free section. He had 2 other owners before me. Jackal is terrified of everything, the wind, thunder, cars, other people, any type of noise. If someone knocks on our door, he runs to the bedroom to hide. So I was just wondering if this is a normal behavior for a Basenji.
You're going to need to work with your dog to overcome his fears with positive reward training, making the things he is afraid of a positive experience. Do not forces him into facing his fears, this is adding negatives to the whole experience. Encouraging with favorite treats & praise will get you further. Also you're going to need a lot of patience & gain his trust.
This sounds like a dog that was not socialized properly as a puppy. He most likely was not exposed to new things during his critical development period and now doesn't know how to cope with new things. A good positive reinforcement class can help but it will be work to get him to understand that the world is filled with many new things and that they are okay not scary monsters.
It is not normal at all. I would agree with lvoss and it is important that lots of extra work goes into accepting news things as "fun" not scary
While we do not get any thunder storms (maybe one a year), we live about a mile from the fairgrounds and there are many nights with fireworks. My girls (and my Basenjis that came before the girls) could care less about them… in fact they sit in the upstairs window and watch with us.
I have had a couple over the years that were afraid of thunder or fireworks but most of our basenjis ignore them. Topper used to run toward fireworks! And basenjis are typically curious and not fearful of people. May seem terrified of a plastic bag blowing in the wind at night, but indifferent toward a hurricane. I would guess poor socialization, which led to unhappy owners, several different owners and finally a 'free to good home' situation. Which is how we got many of our basenjis over the years, by the way. Work with a behaviorist if you can, or read some books, I think there is one about dealing with fearful dogs, I'll try and remember the title.
I recommend the book "The cautious canine" by Patricia McConnell.
Just remember…slow, patient, and gentle. Don't force, flood, or overload him or he will shut down. Also work hard on building trust...the more he learns to trust you the more he will look to you when he is startled by something.
Thank you everyone for your replies. I should have made myself clear when I posted this, he is fearful of people but not us. When people come over he will run to the bedroom. We believe that he was abused before he come to live with us. Since the people we got him from had a lot of dogs, I think he didn't get enough attention. He bonded with me very quickly, I believe within a day or two. He just started trusting my husband in the last week. He would not take a treat from him unless he put it on the floor or I gave it to him. My husband and I think he was abused by a male.
I have introduced him to my brothers dogs and have taken him over there with me a few times. He got a long with them very well.
I have worked with many breeds over the last 30 yrs. You are in the norm of owners who believe that fearful behavior indicates past abuse. It rarely is. Mostly it is lack of socialization or simply a fearful temperament.
That said, basenjis – like many breeds-- like to set their own time table. I tell people with ANY dog, let it approach you. Ignore or toss a treat maybe, but do not try to pet, approach or connect.
As for noise fears, there is a thread here on calming signals and I recommend them highly. This is a good start: http://k9deb.com/clinical.htm
Do not baby or pamper the dog when it responds to noises.
You're probably quite right about living in the country. I live in a remote area where there are no sounds of traffic or people going by so have to be extra observant of socialising puppie to such things. I use a CD of traffic noises etc. when they are babies On the other hand there are lots of noises here that they don't get in towns so it can work both ways. One of my dogs got spooked at a show by the noise of an ice cream maker starting up!