Help, we need advice re training classes please
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  • as a lot of members will know we have been very succesful training Malaika at classes, it is enjoyable for her and us. However the same cannot be said about training Kwame. He has been going to classes since being a pup and is now 13 months old.
    He has always been more difficult to train which we can deal with.
    Since January he has been in a class with 3 other dogs and is very difficult to manage around them, he has in fact become difficult when on the lead and sees another dog, straining on the lead to get to them. He has in the past been ok off lead but we don't get much chance to do this due to the lack of safe areas.
    In class Kwame gets over stimulated by the sight of the other dogs doing a sit stay and then a recall, he tries lunging and thrashes around, i do try to keep him focused on myself with food.
    One excercise requires the dog to come away from distractions, this involves walking him near to the others, removing his lead, walking away and recalling him. On two occasions he has gone for one of the other dogs. The trainer has said it is important to practice this and get him out of the habit.
    I can see what she's getting at but my gut instinct is we are setting him up to fail and also i feel it unfair to the rest of the class, i know i wouldn't like it.
    It was so upsetting at class today that i was unable to carry on and i wonder if group classes are the wrong way to go for him.
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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  • I agree with you, Kwame does not have the skills at this point to be successful at what is being asked. Until he is able to focus on you and make the choice that working for you is a better choice then he isn't going to be successful. Have you watched and tried exercises like It's Yer Choice, I have posted the link several times. Also, the book Control Unleashed has a lot of good information for the situation you are in.

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  • Thank you very much for your reply. I will order the book and watch the video. To be honest i have seen the link before and assumed that as our two are so seldom off lead that there was no point. However i realise that the techniques could be applied at any time.

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  • K

    I have never replied to one of these threads but this popped up on my facebook and i found it interesting so i am going to try and help you out with my opinion. Your Basenji does not sound aggressive but just not respecting your commands. In a pack if one dog were to ignore an Alfa dog he would be reprimanded by the Alfa dog by a simple touch. You need to think of it like this. Your dog is a dog and needs to be treated like he is a dog and for him to learn who is the boss you need to do to him when an Alfa dog would do to him, I know a lot of training techniques like clicker training to not allow you to be hands on and believe that if you ignore a behaviour or distract the dog from a behaviour that it will go away. This will work for a dog who is simply distracted but a dog who is confused about who is boss this will not work. From your post i think your Basneji needs an eye opening experience to the fact you are the boss not him and when you say come his instincts tell him to listen to you because you are the Alfa. A better way to understand this theory is to read a book written by Ceasar Millan, watch a youtube video of him, or if you are already familiar with his technique to try and apply it to your best ability. I hope this helps :) i do not have a Basenji yet as my puppy does not arrive till the end of this month so i have never put one through training yet and i wont till march but when it comes to teaching a dog who is dominant, every breed learns usually the same way. Let me know what you think and if this helps.

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  • Kristen,
    thank you very much for your reply. What you say about him not respecting me is probably correct to a degree. When i check him verbaly i perceive that i am realy being firm, however the trainer tells me otherwise. I am firm in respect that i will work with him and don't tolerate bad behaviour, i'm consistant but still sometimes not getting it quite right.
    I respect what you say about checking out Caeser but i do know a great many people now feel his alpha dog training is outdated and particularly unsuitable for basenjis. They are a breed that can over react and heavy handed methods could i feel drive them to bite. Today the trainer did hold Kwame down firmly after he went for another dog, he calmed and didn't respond the same way next time. However i'm not convinced it would work next time.
    I hope you enjoy your puppy, are you getting a male or female ?

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  • It's never a good idea to keep practicing something that is going wrong. Introducing distractions before the dog is solid on the behavior is indeed setting him up to fail, Can you successfully walk him near the other dogs and away on a slack leash without incident? That is obviously a prerequisite to him doing it off leash. I agree he needs to learn to focus on you, whatever method you employ to get that done. (and there are many)

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  • eeeefarm, we can walk him near to the other dogs in training if we work realy hard, ie checking him on the lead and saying "Leave it !" before he starts. Today i told the trainer that i didn't want to repeat the excercise but she insisted. He was ok the second time but my instinct is telling me we're moving too fast.

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  • I am going to strongly disagree with Kristin and will say that sort of outdated thinking leads down a very bad path with basenjis.

    I do think that Kwame needs to understand that there are better choices that he can make and that you will deal with the issue of other dogs and he has other jobs to do. As eeeefarm has stated if he is not successfully ignoring dogs on leash and making the decision to stay connected to you not because of the leash but because he chooses to then he is not ready for off leash work.

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  • K

    Like i said, i have NEVER been around a Basenji before and therefore have never had to deal with them. All i have trained are labs, boxers, rotti mixes and i have always found it helped me a lot with them so thank you for the insight. i do remember reading about the fact Basenjis need a kind hand i guess that just slipped my mind when i read this post. I am getting a Basenji because i have never had to train one before and i wanted a nice challenge and i think the breed is beautiful and i am so very excited to welcome my little girl home at the end of the month. thanks again.

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  • Is Kwame food motivated? Hot dogs, pepperonis, smoked salmon, cheese? Will something like this distract him totally from another dog and get him to focus solely on you? You want to make sure that he is looking at your face and not the treat also before he gets the treat, this will teach him to look to you to see what he is supposed to do. I agree that a Basenji is NOT a normal dog, for training reasons and personality. These guys have a lot going on in their heads and will out-think you. Good luck with your training.

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  • I have to reiterate the Control Unleashed suggestion. There are also a couple of DVD's and there is also a new puppy book just out. You can also join the CU list (yahoo groups) and possibly find a CU trainer, or like-minded person near you. It sounds like the trainer is having you do exercises Kwame just isn't quite ready for. Unfortunate.

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  • @kristen:

    Like i said, i have NEVER been around a Basenji before and therefore have never had to deal with them. All i have trained are labs, boxers, rotti mixes and i have always found it helped me a lot with them so thank you for the insight. i do remember reading about the fact Basenjis need a kind hand i guess that just slipped my mind when i read this post. I am getting a Basenji because i have never had to train one before and i wanted a nice challenge and i think the breed is beautiful and i am so very excited to welcome my little girl home at the end of the month. thanks again.

    I think you're in for a wild ride and a major learning curve, if you're open to it. Basenjis to tend to be high-spirited, and those of us who love the breed appreciate that about them. They are very independent minded and do not like being man-handled. They quite resent being forced into a "sit" for example. However, with clicker training, I've found the basenjis to be eager and clever. They like figuring out the puzzle/game and become quite pleased with themselves when they learn a new trick. Besides, it's WAY more fun to train this way. If you're open to it, try browsing your local library for any books by:
    Karen Pryor
    Patricia McConnell
    Suzanne Clothier
    Pat Miller
    Jean Donaldson
    Jane killion
    Leslie McDivett

    There are several other authors, but those are the ones that I think my local library system has.

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  • I second the clicker training suggestion…....for any breed, or for that matter, critter. It is the most precise way to indicate what behaviour you are looking for. Done correctly, it is very quick. Once you have understanding, i,e, the behaviour is on cue, discipline is a different matter. Basenjis are quick to understand what you want (regardless of training method), but getting their cooperation is another thing. If you have worked with cats at all, you will understand what I mean. :) The trick is to make the dog want to please you, not so easy with a dog that really doesn't give a rat's patootie whether you are happy with his behaviour or not. (granted, some Basenjis are more interested in pleasing you than others, but "biddable" is not a Basenji strong point!) Food rewards work well for Basenjis, but aren't the answer to all problems. I do believe in letting the dog know there are consequences when he crosses the line. (of course, he must have a clear understanding of where the line is!)

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  • Is he just being overstimulated and reactive because he is on lead? Some dogs are leash reactive. So that could be part of the problem.

    Our boy also started coming more into his own around 12-13 months and began testing me more…so that could also be at play.

    I just got a book called Behavior Adjustment Training by Grisha Steward it talks about working with your dog to modify behaviors like that that can be rooted in fear, frustration, and aggression. I like what I have read so far and it has very nice illustrations to help you out as well. Maybe you can check it out and see if there is something in there for you and Kwame.

    Patience...you have a teenage boy on your hands ;)

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  • moth-
    let me know how the BAT works for you. i keep hearing about it and keep meaning to learn more about it, but so far i have not. i think most of the stuff i've heard is good stuff.

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  • @krunzer:

    Is Kwame food motivated? Hot dogs, pepperonis, smoked salmon, cheese? Will something like this distract him totally from another dog and get him to focus solely on you? You want to make sure that he is looking at your face and not the treat also before he gets the treat, this will teach him to look to you to see what he is supposed to do. I agree that a Basenji is NOT a normal dog, for training reasons and personality. These guys have a lot going on in their heads and will out-think you. Good luck with your training.

    Kwame is very motivated by food, however it's very difficult to get him to focus on anything other than the other dog. I need to do some work on getting him to focus.

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  • @Moth:

    Is he just being overstimulated and reactive because he is on lead? Some dogs are leash reactive. So that could be part of the problem.

    Our boy also started coming more into his own around 12-13 months and began testing me more…so that could also be at play.

    I just got a book called Behavior Adjustment Training by Grisha Steward it talks about working with your dog to modify behaviors like that that can be rooted in fear, frustration, and aggression. I like what I have read so far and it has very nice illustrations to help you out as well. Maybe you can check it out and see if there is something in there for you and Kwame.

    Patience...you have a teenage boy on your hands ;)

    Yes i know what you mean about a teenage boy,lol
    He is worse on the lead , definately and had always been fine on the rare occasions we manage an off lead walk. However three times in class he has gone for other dogs , he also began to growl at another dog whilst out and off lead just on a walk.

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  • @agilebasenji:

    I have to reiterate the Control Unleashed suggestion. There are also a couple of DVD's and there is also a new puppy book just out. You can also join the CU list (yahoo groups) and possibly find a CU trainer, or like-minded person near you. It sounds like the trainer is having you do exercises Kwame just isn't quite ready for. Unfortunate.

    Thank you, i will most certainly buy the book and look into the yahoo group, nothing to lose

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  • @thunderbird8588:

    Yes i know what you mean about a teenage boy,lol
    He is worse on the lead , definately and had always been fine on the rare occasions we manage an off lead walk. However three times in class he has gone for other dogs , he also began to growl at another dog whilst out and off lead just on a walk.

    BAT sounds like a good fit for this…she talks about dog to dog aggression and reactivity and how to teach the dog other behavior instead of becoming overstimulated and reactive.

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  • @agilebasenji:

    moth-
    let me know how the BAT works for you. i keep hearing about it and keep meaning to learn more about it, but so far i have not. i think most of the stuff i've heard is good stuff.

    I can post a review once I have finished reading it… Want to maybe apply some of it to teach my two to be less reactive with out cat in certain situations.

    I too have heard only good things about this from other trainers.

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