Hey Jeff, was this B one of your litters? and if so, I would guess you have bred the 'good' stuff. But on a general question, can you describe how you keep the pup's focus??? I am only vaguely familiar with tracking (all trainers don't know all….) I just love watching your boy work the scent, but have you ever had one on a scent and then found another (rabbit or squirrel pee for example) trail and have him go off the deer scent? Someone called the Basenji a "dim witted dog"....(not going to go there...must not know how to get into a canine's mind) I walk around a 20acre trail daily with known coyote perimeters around us, and my (B) boy and two others do smell markings (I investigate it..some are scat piles and some are fox squirrel trails...). Appreciate any input....thanks!
Axel is from Bushbabies Basenjis in Livermore, CA. Terri was my early B mentor and helped me decide on what kind of B I needed for work. He was the foundation stock for my current generation of working B's. His daughter, Phoenix, was the pick of the litter for working traits and has an amazing nose.
Generally the reason why a dog will "jump" trail/ track is because the odor they are following petered out and they have lost it for a while and discovered something else. However, a savvy handler should be able to read the body language change to show they jumped. All critter smells seem to produce different body language in a trailing dog. In the video above, notice how slow and careful Axel is. That was because of all the blood drops he found aside from the wounded animal odor. You will also notice that he is wary. He is hunting live wounded game that is large and he knows it. He encounters a wind scent of the bedded down deer at one point in the video and bolts. That was because it was close and he knew it. He goes back to the hunt but much more carefully.
If that odor were a squirrel, rabbit, or turkey, he would have been faster, and less concerned for his safety. These are some of the body language changes I am referring to.
The key to scent memory is prey drive. The more the dog is focused on something, the less chance they have of switching odors when the chips are down. These are some of the traits I test for in litters for working dogs. If I have a dog that has great prey drive and focus, he or she may remember one particular odor for days and if they encounter it again, will hunt with abandon.
The coyotes are competition and threats to the average B and I see that my Basenjis will mark over coyote scat, try to cover it up, or even eat it to get rid of the evidence. They are not hungary or missing something from their diet, the reason they eat scat is to get rid of the competition.
Basenjis are not dim witted at all and I believe they are probably one of the most intelligent domestic dogs. I think this is due to the fact hat we have had less time to water them down from a domestic standpoint than other breeds.