Different Strokes…..
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  • Rather than continuing to hijack another thread, I thought it might be appropriate to start my own here. Training is a subject that interests me, and I have experimented with many methods over the years, with both dogs and horses. I've learned a lot, and one thing I have discovered is that no matter the method, there is always something to be gained from listening to others, attending seminars and demonstrations, etc. I have picked up tips in the most unlikely places. Sometimes something I can use right away, other times something I file away in my memory for the right occasion. Not every horse or dog responds in the same way to the same method, and not everything is appropriate for every student. My Border Collie was a totally different proposition from my Basenjis, my Arab cross responded differently from my purebreds.

    I never thought I would like clicker training, but I tried it and was immediately impressed, and it is now my method of choice for teaching new behaviours. I trained many off leash dogs (including three Basenjis, with varying results) before trying an e-collar, and now I wouldn't be without it for off leash work with Basenjis…...but would never consider using it with a Border Collie. Always something new to learn. I guess my point is, it pays to be open minded. Never say "never", at least until you have thoroughly researched the subject. (and I mean with personal experience, not hearsay)

    For those who are interested......I decided to try an e-collar three years ago. I had worked with Perry on a long line, and loose, on my own property, and he was pretty good......but I could not trust him with major distractions. Yes, perseverance might have eventually paid off, but I'm not young anymore, and I didn't want to wait until he was old as well to be able to enjoy the fields and woods in relative security. So I went to observe an open house at the local "Sit means sit" franchise. I was impressed by the total lack of drama, the very low key approach, and the obvious results, so I booked Perry in for a free demo. I reasoned that if it really freaked him out, at least he wouldn't be blaming me! :) Seriously, I knew I didn't have the experience to try this on my own, so I thought I would just see if he responded in the same way as the dogs I had observed......and he did. The trainer fitted him with a collar (after letting me have a taste of the stim levels in the palm of my hand) Turns out, Perry's working level (the point at which he noticed the stim) was a level three, the same level at which I could perceive a tingle. The trainer attached a long lead and proceeded to let Perry wander around. Although I was watching closely, it was difficult for me to tell when the trainer gave a stim. Initially all I noticed was that periodically he used the leash to draw Perry back to his side. In a very few minutes, Perry was returning to the trainer without the leash being touched. He had learned the correct response to the "tingle" from the collar. No yipes, no drama, no fear, no pain. Just a subtle communication and an understanding of what was required to rid himself of a somewhat annoying tingle on his neck. I was impressed.

    Long story short, I signed up for four lessons which included the collar (lifetime guarantee, and they honour it, too!) I took a couple of lessons, decided their method didn't suit me, (I don't like to "pick" at a dog.....or horse......I just need cooperation) and I continued on my own. I started in December, 2008, spent the winter practicing with Perry in the dog run, and by spring we were ready to go. I took him on a long line down the field......as a precaution. All went well, I took the line off, and he has spent very little time at the end of a leash since. We go days.....even weeks......when he never feels a stim from the collar. Truth be told, his recalls are stellar and I never use it for that. Mostly the collar is for safety, and occasionally to reinforce "leave it". On a few occasions I have used it to interrupt a cat or critter chase, and yes, it is effective for that. Certainly to interrupt a chase it is necessary to use a level he will notice, and yes, I am sure it hurts him momentarily. The point is that it does not injure him, leaves no lasting effects, and I reward him as soon as he breaks off the chase. He does not appear to resent it or to be upset by it. But it sure interrupts his focus on game!

    Would I recommend an e-collar to others? Only if you are willing to spend the time to properly condition the dog, making sure he fully understands that he controls the collar. Then make that so, by being consistent in your use of the device. I would never recommend this technology to anyone who has anger management issues, but then such a person probably shouldn't have animals in the first place. For me, and for Perry, the e-collar is a safety device that makes it possible for Perry to enjoy his freedom to the fullest. Every time I see him flying around the field or down the trail, I am thankful that I attended that demo, that I was willing to check out something new.

    I have mentioned that having an off leash dog changes your relationship. When you walk a dog on a leash, his focus is not on you (yes, I know you can make an effort to change this, but the average dog walker doesn't) The dog knows exactly where you are......at the other end of his leash. So he looks for things that interest him, and ignores you unless you demand his attention. When he is loose, he must make an effort to keep tabs on you. It changes the equation in a quite wonderful way. My dog pays attention to where I am. If he loses track of me, he immediately makes an effort to find me. I matter to him…...even more than the interesting smells in the grass. He doesn't have to be with me, he wants to be with me. I relish this attentiveness and find ways to improve it. If Perry is distracted, sniffing, I will hide and let him find me. He does this with much energy, and a huge Basenji grin on his face when he discovers my hiding place. We have far more fun than we ever did walking with a leash.

    Another method of training I have played around with and been seriously impressed with is Charles Eisenmann's "education" method. If I had the time and dedication, I am sure much could be accomplished. Chuck's method is the antithesis of habituation. He wants the dog to respond because it thinks and understands what is being requested. This is very challenging for the trainer......and the dog. I have had glimmers of success, but lack the stamina to follow through. I do find his five basic things a dog should know extremely valuable: Pick it up, hold it, stand up, stay there, come here. Of which the most valuable is "pick it up". Simple, but the building blocks for so much more.....his most interesting point is "Do not use single word commands. They limit a dog's potential". Quite a different approach to what you will hear anywhere else, but I was fortunate enough to see Chuck in person with his dogs, and there is no question his training.....whoops, educating.....ability has never been equaled. For those unfamiliar, there are a number of news clippings about Chuck and his dogs at this link:

    http://www.shilohshepherds.info/whatIsAShilohShepherd.htm

    Page down a bit and you will find them. Yes, his dogs were really that well educated. I saw it in person and it was magic!

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  • Interesting that you mention Chuck Eisenmann and his dogs. I was born and raised on the Littlest Hobo - in fact, I only missed out on meeting them at a local mall appearance because I was at home having a nap - so my dad took my older brother and sister! :) I staked my claim on the book, though! You've inspired me to re-read it now with my basenjis in mind. (I do, only half-jokingly, often tell them to "Stop, Sit & Think!" :p) What he did with his dogs was incredible.

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  • FYI, and then done with this thread too– you pretty much say a few times you went to e-collar for time/speed. As I acknowledged, it is fast. I just will not use one for anything but life/death necessity. And again, they are illegal in many countries where off leash/hunting/etc continue. And for the record, I actually OWN, have read massive research and have seen them used by "professionals" and know how to use one. I am not lumping use in with animal abuse, but it's the difference between a parent who raises a child with non physical punishment and one who spanks. I don't lump people who occasionally spank a child in with abusers, but i also don't lump them in with those who truly are exceptional parents. You don't have to hit a child or shock a dog to train them. Neither are illegal, do what you want. But I'll be glad when the USA joins other countries in banning them.

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  • @DebraDownSouth:

    FYI, and then done with this thread too– you pretty much say a few times you went to e-collar for time/speed. As I acknowledged, it is fast. I just will not use one for anything but life/death necessity. .

    Funny, because that is pretty much the way I feel about crates. There are times when it is difficult to do without them, but I consider long term use of a crate or a dog being left in a crate for many hours every day to be far more abusive than causing an animal a brief instant of discomfort or even pain. Psychological distress is often overlooked, in both children and animals, and I have seen my share of pets damaged by too much crate time.

    Back in the day, we didn't use crates. If a pup needed to be left unsupervised, for the sake of the house and furniture he was left outside in a dog run or given a "safe" room in the house, or perhaps tied out on a chain, but in any case he wasn't left for hours alone. Mom was home a lot, it was a different world then. You didn't put your kids in daycare for others to raise, either. And many dogs roamed the streets at will, so most dogs were pretty social. We walked our dogs off leash, and they defecated on people's property…...yes, looking back there were certainly some reprehensible things but it was a more relaxed time and dogs with the type of problems we see commonly now were rather rare. I don't remember many kids getting bit, either. Most dogs were well socialized and most kids knew enough to recognize the signs that a dog wanted to be left alone.

    We are obviously a much different society now. "Back in the day" both kids and dogs were spanked for misbehaviour, a practice that is currently frowned upon but which didn't seem to do us any harm. My friends and I grew into pretty well adjusted adults, and our dogs didn't cause the problems I see so often nowadays, but there are a lot of factors in play so it is hard to point the finger at just one. "Positive" training done correctly is a real boon, but many people don't understand how to train this way and end up with spoiled, demanding dogs that do nothing unless bribed. Wearing a "treat bag" everywhere would have seemed insane when I grew up, but is now considered normal. As I titled my thread, "different strokes".

    Life features both positive and negative outcomes. Dogs, and indeed children, will eventually discover this fact, either in a controlled situation at home, or the hard way out in the real world. Never saying "no" or allowing negative consequences to occur is doing them no favour, IMHO.

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    This debate is interesting in that e collars are currently banned in Wales and it won't be long before the rest of the UK follows suit. The reason being that they can be lethal in the hands of unknowledgeable people. I assume this could be got round by making it legal for use by certificated people who would have to demonstrate their qualifications before they could purchase one.. - I can't see this happening here, I must say.

    I'm very sceptical about a Basenji and any strong prey driven dogs being stopped from chasing moving quarry without an extremely severe electric shock. I can appreciate your point of view, eeeefarm but I'm more in sympathy with Debra. My dogs are trained not to worry sheep but I know were I to give certain of them the opportunity, they would chase and kill. No e collar would stop them if they were let loose amongst my sheep I am certain. Others have been good and I've been able to let them roam unleashed at will among the flock with supervision. Not all Basenjis have the same strong drive - they're indivduals after all.

    I can also appreciate your view on crates as I only use them when really necessary (such as by regulation). However I don't equate them with e collars as I can't imagine that their use in untrained hands being lethal!.

    In my opinion, Basenjis are always best trained with kindness. After all they have been trained for all sorts of uses with success and without any electrical equipment.

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  • Would I put an e-collar on myself and have someone use it on me? No. Therefore, I would never use it on my dog.

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  • @Patty:

    The reason being that they can be lethal in the hands of unknowledgeable people.

    Now that I find hard to believe. The collar I have can give you a nasty jolt at high power, granted it is uncomfortable, but we are talking voltage here, not current (current is what kills you) and what current there is only travels from one pole to the other, so affecting a very limited area of skin. Further to that the collar shuts off after 8 seconds, even if the handler is still pressing the button. Occasionally I accidentally get nailed by my Gallagher horse fence. That is far nastier than the collar and goes to ground through my body…...but again, because we are dealing with high voltage and no current, it isn't going to kill me.

    In my opinion, Basenjis are always best trained with kindness. After all they have been trained for all sorts of uses with success and without any electrical equipment.

    They have, for sure. My first girl was an off leash Basenji and I had never heard of e-collars when I had her, but she was also far more biddable than most Basenjis. I could probably trust my current boy without the collar most of the time now, since he has the habit of obeying and seldom needs a correction, but I guess for me it is my security blanket to have it in place when we go out. In an ideal world…...one without coyotes, cars, and skunks......I would likely leave the collar off.

    I think it is unfortunate that the collars are being banned in some places. I would support a mandatory course being passed before someone can buy and use one, however. And I personally feel that crates have caused more dogs grief than have e collars, and yes, I have used crates myself. But not for any longer than absolutely necessary, and my current boy has not been locked into one in years.

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  • @Kipawa:

    Would I put an e-collar on myself and have someone use it on me? No. Therefore, I would never use it on my dog.

    I doubt you would put a choke or flat collar or a harness on yourself either, so the point is rather moot. Would you allow someone to put you in a cage and leave you alone that way for hours?

    There is no easy "one size fits all" to the training question. Each individual has their own experiences and their own answers, all of which may change as time and events make us older and wiser…....or perhaps just older. :) I did things in the past I would not do now. I have learned a great deal, and my best teachers have been my own animals......who will pretty much demonstrate by their actions whether or not you are on the right track.

    I knew e-collars were controversial for some people on this forum. I want to be clear that I am not sounding a ringing endorsement of their use. Just that in certain circumstances and for certain purposes they are a valuable tool. I personally don't like the idea of training with them exclusively. I think they are good to communicate information from a distance, but I think they are inferior to clickers for teaching new behaviours. The things I don't like about e-collars are pretty much the same things I don't like about formal obedience......no matter how it is taught.

    I am not interested in training and showing my dog in formal obedience since I don't like the requirements for perfect positioning, (straight sits, correct heeling position, etc.), and if I leave my dog on a stay I don't give a rat's patootie whether he sits, lies, or stands, as long as he stays put until I tell him otherwise. I don't need a "drop" on recall, I need a dog to stop where he is if I ask him to. Whether he chooses to lie down is immaterial to me. In short, I want a companion who will cooperate with what I require when we are out around the farm, not a little soldier who marches in perfect form to the tune of the drill sergeant. Other people have other expectations.....the most important thing to me is the relationship I have with my dog.

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  • @eeeefarm:

    I am not interested in training and showing my dog in formal obedience since I don't like the requirements for perfect positioning, (straight sits, correct heeling position, etc.), and if I leave my dog on a stay I don't give a rat's patootie whether he sits, lies, or stands, as long as he stays put until I tell him otherwise. I don't need a "drop" on recall, I need a dog to stop where he is if I ask him to. Whether he chooses to lie down is immaterial to me. In short, I want a companion who will cooperate with what I require when we are out around the farm, not a little soldier who marches in perfect form to the tune of the drill sergeant. Other people have other expectations…..the most important thing to me is the relationship I have with my dog.

    And I am not interested in having a dog do ANY of those things due to a shock collar training. You seem to think that performance, show or "companion" makes a difference– the training is the same even if the goals are different. I don't need a shock collar, I won't use one and I will never ever agree one is necessary except life-threatening unavoidable situations.

    As for crates, most here use them on limited basis. But that said, damned straight I put my child in a play pen if I needed a shower and no one else was home to watch her. Providing a SAFE containment isn't hurting the child or a dog (not that I am comparing, just comparing NEED, real need, as opposed to expediency). And you know what, I also had either a harness or wrist thing on my child at the malls. The stories of parents turning to look at an item or pay at cash register and child snatched or gone made me consider that important. My only point is there is a difference between things that are NECESSARY, like a crate, and things that cause pain, train through the dog comprehending it will get pain if it doesn't obey, and NEED. And since dogs are trained and do everything WITHOUT a shock collar they do with it-- it isn't necessary and I do sincerely hope we become a more humane country and make them illegal

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  • First Basenji's

    I have very little experience or expertise in formal training methods myself. I am interested in learning about different methods and especially the history of methods, as I think we can place different "popular" techniques within social contexts and timelines. I know what has worked for me personally, and what I am not comfortable using with my dogs. FWIW, both my dogs do go off-lead quite regularly, and they're fantastic about keeping me in sight. I like how you described that "having an off leash dog changes your relationship." However, I'm not sure that I would have the same kind of relationship with my dogs had I been lead to believe that a shock collar was the most effective way to achieve success and communicate with my off-leash dogs.

    I do have a couple questions. As I've heard other people describe it, there are actually several types of "electronic" collars. Does the "electronic" element always mean voltage to you? I met a lady once who had her two Basenjis trained with sound-generating e-collars – at least that's how she demonstrated it to me. When their collar beeped (and it was just sound), they knew to return immediately to her. She could call one or the other or both at the same time; her dogs appeared to have excellent recall with this tool. For example, when one of her Basenjis started grumbling like she was about to pounce on Bowpi, she broke the tension by calling her back immediately to her side.

    I've also heard of rumble collars that merely vibrate and do not shock. Why wouldn't this be enough to have the same effect as a shock collar?

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    There are also collars that emit a scent which have been used to good effect for some purposes but I'm sure not on a Basenji.

    Eeeefarm, apologies if I used the word lethal as an exaggeration but I still think that wrongly used the collars could be very cruel.

    You saying that you've had nasty jolt from your electric horse fence - i do know from bitter
    experience that such a jolt doesn't stop a Basenji when he spots his prey!! I cerfainly wouldn't trust an e collar! However this discussion is interesting to me because I've never even seen such a collar let alone experience its use.

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  • @curlytails:

    I do have a couple questions. As I've heard other people describe it, there are actually several types of "electronic" collars. Does the "electronic" element always mean voltage to you? I met a lady once who had her two Basenjis trained with sound-generating e-collars – at least that's how she demonstrated it to me. When their collar beeped (and it was just sound), they knew to return immediately to her. She could call one or the other or both at the same time; her dogs appeared to have excellent recall with this tool. For example, when one of her Basenjis started grumbling like she was about to pounce on Bowpi, she broke the tension by calling her back immediately to her side.

    I've also heard of rumble collars that merely vibrate and do not shock. Why wouldn't this be enough to have the same effect as a shock collar?

    Yes, collars that vibrate or sound a tone are an excellent way to communicate at a distance. There are times when it is not possible for the dog to hear you if he is ranging quite a way upwind on a breezy day, so anything that gets his attention when he can't hear you is a good thing. No reason at all not to use it. I would wonder whether the woman you encountered was using collars that had the capacity for shock, since most can be configured to sound a tone as a warning. The settings allow for warning tone or vibration, which can be followed up by a shock if the signal is not obeyed.

    @DebraDownSouth:

    And I am not interested in having a dog do ANY of those things due to a shock collar training. You seem to think that performance, show or "companion" makes a difference– the training is the same even if the goals are different. I don't need a shock collar, I won't use one and I will never ever agree one is necessary except life-threatening unavoidable situations.

    I have said (several times!) that I did not use an e collar to train my dog…....before I got one I had already done the training, both on a long line and loose. What I needed the e-collar for was to ensure a recall in circumstances where it was dangerous to my dog if he didn't pay attention to me. The only e-collar "training" I did was to familiarize him with the correct response should he feel that "tingle". Many people on this forum repeatedly caution that Basenjis are unreliable off leash, since they are sighthounds with a high prey drive. I concur with this conclusion. However, I wanted to allow my dog off leash freedom, and an e-collar was a way to achieve that goal. Yes, some Basenjis make reliable off leash dogs. I have had one......my first one. And my second girl was also semi reliable off leash.......she kept an eye on me and I knew she wouldn't disappear, but at the time I lived in northern Ontario, and picked the places I let her loose carefully. Where I currently live there are hazards. A busy road at the front of the property, coyotes, skunks, my neighbour's Rottweilers, and to keep my guy safe I need to know I can control his impulses if necessary.

    As to your point about training.....I am not interested in having a dog do formal obedience at all, no matter how he is trained. I agree that methods to train show, performance or companion are no different, but I object to the rigidity of formal obedience (no matter how trained), and I don't like the effect it has on many dogs. If I were to pursue obedience titles, I would not be using an e-collar for the training, as I don't think it is the right tool for the job.

    You don't need a shock collar. Good for you. I don't "need" one either, but I have one because I won't compromise my dog's safety over the possibility that he may have brief moments of discomfort when he crosses the line and receives a correction. He knows the rules, he knows when he breaks them, he is not frightened by the collar, and he enjoys his freedom off leash. Seems like a simple choice to me. Do you have off leash Basenjis? Do you trust them implicitly to return no matter the distraction? Perhaps you are fortunate and have one like my first, or perhaps you are simply a better trainer than I am. Good, I'm happy for you. For myself, I have only to look at my dog to know the decisions I make for him are the right ones. He enjoys his life far more than he did when restricted to the end of a leash, and he enjoys his freedom in safety.

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  • @Patty:

    There are also collars that emit a scent which have been used to good effect for some purposes but I'm sure not on a Basenji.

    Eeeefarm, apologies if I used the word lethal as an exaggeration but I still think that wrongly used the collars could be very cruel.

    You saying that you've had nasty jolt from your electric horse fence - i do know from bitter
    experience that such a jolt doesn't stop a Basenji when he spots his prey!! I cerfainly wouldn't trust an e collar! However this discussion is interesting to me because I've never even seen such a collar let alone experience its use.

    Patty, you are absolutely right about the potential for abuse. No question at all! Of course, there are many ways to be cruel to a dog. The "good" thing about the collar is that although the pain is real and immediate, it is also gone. Like the electric fence, there is no lasting effect except the psychological one of not wanting to repeat the experience (which of course is why it works for horses…...they can certainly go through it with the right incentive, e.g. a nasty herd boss on their heels trying to bite them! Happened to one of mine when he was young.....the fence didn't even slow him down!)

    You have obviously had a Basenji go through electric fence......was it a physical fence or an invisible fence? The difference with a collar and a handler is that the handler controls what the collar delivers. A dog can learn to bolt through a fence, suffering only one nasty jolt, and some learn they don't mind this trade off. A handler can apply a follow up with a stubborn or insensitive dog, which might make the difference. The collars were originally designed to keep hunting dogs off illegal game, and the original versions were pretty crude and pretty nasty, unlike the modern ones that can deliver a very slight sensation......but can be dialed up if necessary to interrupt a chase situation.

    I know from my own experience with Perry that I can stop him in mid chase. I haven't had to use it much, but on those rare occasions when I did, he yelped and quit chasing. I called him back to me and praised him for coming, and that was the end of it. He has never shown any "after effects" or fear of the collar. (and he is "collar wise", I have no doubt). As you know if you keep horses inside an electric fence, they don't panic if they accidentally contact the fence, it is more of a "oh, darn!" reaction when they are accustomed to it. With the e-collar I use only a momentary higher level shock, and that is all that has ever been needed. If you overdid it you could probably create a dog that would tune it out, just as hanging on the bit with a horse can create a runaway. I do use the collar occasionally at a low level slightly higher than Perry's working level.......if he blows me off when I ask him to "leave it". He reacts to this with an "oh, all right!" look, no drama and no vocalizing. Nothing more than you would get from pulling a dog away from something with a leash.

    BTW, if you think electric fence is nasty, try having a nerve conduction study done on you. Worse than standing in the field holding on to my Gallagher horse fence for half an hour! :(

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  • I think everyone has to take responsibility for their relationship with their dog and what does and does not belong in that relationship.

    But I also keep hearing Bob Bailey talk about training all sorts of interesting animals (cats, ravens, dolphins, chickens, military bomb dogs, etc) to perform reliably by using only operant conditioning. And I look at choke chains, that strange collar CM came up with, e-collars, etc and think there's really got to be a better way.

    http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB893
    This is the Bailey video I have. I haven't watched it in a while and really should re-watch it. I'd happily suggest it to anyone interested in training. I wish he'd write an autobiography. I think it would be fascinating reading.

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  • @agilebasenji:

    But I also keep hearing Bob Bailey talk about training all sorts of interesting animals (cats, ravens, dolphins, chickens, military bomb dogs, etc) to perform reliably by using only operant conditioning.

    Remember that operant conditioning includes both reward and punishment. I haven't looked at the video, but I am guessing this is training by positive reinforcement only? (basically what clicker training is). Perfect for teaching new behaviours. "Chicken camps" are popular for people learning the timing necessary for effective use of a clicker.

    As far as effectiveness goes, contrary to popular opinion, positive punishment is extremely effective if the timing is right. Problem is, most of us don't want to use it. Which is fine, most people don't employ it correctly in any case. Positive reinforcement is absolutely the way to go for training new behaviours…....but what to do to extinguish bad behaviours? That is the tricky bit. Ignoring something that is unwanted is fine, if you can. If the problem is serious, however, it may be necessary to try to prevent or eliminate it. I think that is where e-collars came in, to keep hunting dogs away from unwanted game. I really can't think of a method that is likely to work for that purpose that doesn't involve some type of punishment. (the "nature of the beast" comes into play here. If you are dealing with a "biddable" dog......Border Collie, Sheltie, GSD......your disapproval......a form of punishment in itself I suppose......would likely be incentive enough. Not so much, for most sporting dogs)

    I know a lot of dog people. From observation, I would say consistency is the key to a dog/handler relationship. Regardless of the training method used, if the animal always, always knows where he stands, he has a much lower stress level and a better relationship with his trainer than the dog who is subject to an erratic, inconsistent handler. Skinner's experiments would bear this out.....

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  • I believe he said he'd used only +reward for training the bomb dogs for the military, but the military wanted believed the dogs would be more reliable if they'd encountered +punishment, so the Baileys did one test with +punishment but Bob Bailey felt it was totally unnecessary. Of course it's been a while since I've watched it, so some finer details may be off.

    "
    I know a lot of dog people. From observation, I would say consistency is the key to a dog/handler relationship. Regardless of the training method used, if the animal always, always knows where he stands, he has a much lower stress level and a better relationship with his trainer than the dog who is subject to an erratic, inconsistent handler. "

    Yes, consistency is a cornerstone of training. Seems I heard about a blind trainer in one of the chicken camps. The trainer was consistently late with giving clicks, but the chickens learned b/c of the consistency. Took longer for them to learn, but learn they did.

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    eeeefarm, I didn't mean an invisible fence but a proper electric fence designed tpo keep stock (sheep in my case) on a part of a field. I had a Basenji slip the leash and plunge straight into the flock. He didn't even seem to notice the jolt!! Luckily it was a young dog and he merely chased the sheep rather than hold on to one. He was 'well trained' on a recall and eventually paused when my huisband gave the command and we managed to grab him.

    What a coincidence that you mentioned NCS - yes I've had one and totally agree with you!! I swear never again!

    Agilebasenji - I've tried the Illusion collars (CM) and have found them effective in getting my b's to walk to heel and no cruelty involved. For them to be effective you have to have a goal in mind and want a Basenji who does walk to heel. Personally for their normal walks I'm quite happy to have them on ordinary collars of various sorts. I tolerate some pulling as long as its not so much that I lose control. I enjoy a Basenji quartering and stopping to have lots of sniffs around. Our walks are pleasurable and we're all very miserable if we can't take them!

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  • Patty, you have sheep. Do you also have Border Collies? I had one…...no sheep.....but what a great dog, and talk about instincts! My neighbour had sheep for awhile, and sometimes a lamb would get through the fence into my field. My dog, without training, would circle the lamb, lie down and put the "eye" on it, and freeze it so I could catch it. What a fantastic dog he was! Best dog I ever owned. Whatever I wanted, if I could make him understand he would do it for me. No treats required. He would work his heart out for my approval. I loved that dog, but for some reason my Basenjis.....worse than useless most of the time on a farm.....have always had my heart. I wish I liked to hunt. It would be good to use that aspect of them, but for now the companionship and entertainment my guy supplies in abundance will have to be enough......and it is. :)

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  • A part of me agrees about keeping their natural instincts/uses. But intellectually I know the actual practical side is limited. If dogs were kept only for their purposes, most breeds would be extinct. Few "pet owners" want those herding/guarding/fighting/boar hunting/badger hole whatever abilities. Much of those abilities make for poor pets. We do fake things like sheep herding trials and pretend it is the real thing. We do field trials and pretend it is real. We do a lot and pat ourselves on the back claiming we are keeping their original purpose, and it is false for the most part.

    In the end, animals, including dogs, are bred to fit new situations and needs. I have no desire to ever hunt (in fact it is against my personal and religious beliefs except when your actual life requires it). I don't want Basenjis bred to be like small coatless Golden Retrievers. I like their quirks and personalities. But if they lose their hunting skills beyond their natural ones most dogs have, oh well. If I were in Africa and needed those skills it would be different. But what I need is a good companion animal. I am much more concerned we breed for health than ability to hunt.

    There are breeds where the working/pet or show lines are so divided you can almost not recognize them. But a club that forbids entry to a show dog has missed the boat. Hell, they missed the freaking OCEAN the boat is on. The goal should be to have both working and conformation.

    One breed that comes to mind is the Jack Russel. What makes that dog great for work makes it a terrible pet for most owners and ends them up flooding rescues. The animal aggression of Pit Bulls has gotten them banned in many countries and on the hit list for most insurances here in the states. I have moderated PB boards and I know totally how the "guardians of the breed" feel about breeding animal aggression OUT of them. Yet their beliefs will result in more and more BSL.

    So yeah, for those needing a dog to hunt, why not get a dog from hunting breeds? Or if your dog from any line has instinct and ability, train it. But for 99 percent of the basenjis in this country, hunting ability doesn't enhance their value as a companion animal.

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  • @DebraDownSouth:

    We do fake things like sheep herding trials and pretend it is the real thing….....But a club that forbids entry to a show dog has missed the boat. Hell, they missed the freaking OCEAN the boat is on. The goal should be to have both working and conformation.

    I'd like to point out that many of the sheepdogs that do trials are working farm dogs that the rest of the year are working sheep "for real" on their owner's farms. There is still a need for a good herding dog, and the club that I mentioned doesn't want to lose that in their dogs. They are passionate in their beliefs, since they have seen so many other breeds spoiled by confirmation showing. The International Sheep Dog Society is so sure that a true Border Collie is the only dog capable of higher level trialling that they allow "Registration on Merit" for an unregistered dog. If he can cut the mustard in a test of his ability, he becomes a registered Sheep Dog. At the Kingston Sheep Dog Trials, which typically has over 100 dogs entered in Open, any dog can compete. It is not limited to Border Collies, and occasionally you do see another breed in the beginner levels. In the Open, it is all Border Collies. Other herding breeds simply don't have what it takes. (yes, there is always the exception that makes the rule, but I haven't seen it yet)

    I agree that most don't need a hunting Basenji. My contention was that neglecting that aspect of the dog will sooner or later fundamentally change the breed, which may be just fine with most people. I'm old enough that such changes are unlikely to make any difference to me. But it's a little contradictory to preach "keeping the breed pure" and not oppose changing it by selective breeding that alters its fundamental nature. As well cross it out to a poodle, or whatever else has the traits you would prefer to see in your pet Basenji. JMHO. BTW, Poodles were once great huntiing dogs. Some people still use them, a bit like Basenjis!

    http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/hunting/2010/04/chad-love-finest-gun-poodle-around

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    Yes, eeeefarm we do have sheep (mainly Beulah Speckle Face) but because we only have under 200 we don't keep more than one BC nowadays. Although she is not a youngster she is still not trained as well as we would like. Probably because she was 14 months when we had her. She is a bit strong for our flock but she learns daily. My OH used to also compete in trials with one of our previous dogs but not evry BC is ideal for that and Fern certainly is not.

    I agree that Border Collies are a lovely breed but there is never anything but a Basenji for me ( not that I let Fern know! - she thinks she might be a Basenji any how!).

    Not quite true that a Basenji is useless on a farm. In the past we have used them to help with the rounding up but these were ones who were reliable with sheep. This is not a trait that has been inherited in any of our current Basenjis.

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