Here's the skinny

Hi guys, thanks for your advice!

Can Basenji's be trained to be off lead in one specific field? There's a quite well sealed in field where I take my current dogs to just up the road. I know they are a hound and people say you shouldn't let them off but I wondered if I trained the dog, on lead, to ignore the exits in that one field with repeated training that would help. I can always use a retractable lead no problem.

I was also wondering if because of my two dogs that would help to keep the Basenji occupied instead of another smell?

Also, it would be doing agility outside as soon as it was old enough (my club do puppy classes and pre-agility), but would this be a problem or as I'm doing it outside or should I find another club that has indoor facilities (I have been doing agility with my current two with that club for almost a year).

Plus as I have other dogs -they know a Basenji and get on fine with her - does the Basenji like other dogs? I've certainly seen videos of them getting on fine. I just wandered about living with them if it would be different. We also have an outdoor cat.

Also to do with children? I think as long as you socialise them early on they are fine. Is this true?

I would be training (inside of course), from the day after we brought the puppy home. I've trained my JRT's since they were five and a half weeks old (we got them early because of special circumstances). They're three now.

The reason I ask is my mother is really the only one delaying the process of getting a Basenji. I was discussing it with her yesterday and I have done LOTS of research and have many websites to aid in training and socialising etc although I know how to train I realise training a Basenji is different, although they are meant to be about the same difficulty as a JRT to train?

Her hangups are the vet bills though I explained to her they are health checked by the breeder. We had a litter of Golden Retrievers about ten years ago and I don't think she understands that health checks might have improved since then.

She said she did some 'research' and didn't like the look of them. But she's seen the one round here and thinks she's pretty. I'm hoping by meeting Basenji 's up close she will change her mind. I pointed out to her that she might not like the look of one of our JRT's now if she didn't own him, but it doesn't matter once you've brought a dog up from a puppy and she might not like the look of one dog but that doesn't mean she won't like another.

I would also be keeping it's mind occupied by training daily as well as walking daily. Apparently they are easy to housetrain is that right?

Sorry to ramble 🙂

Thanks again

I have a 5 year female pure bred Basenji named Pipet. Recently we attempted to adopt a male 5 year old into our home from a reputable agency for Basenji"s….They turned me down based solely on my girls ability to go off lead, there assumption mistakenly being that I would automatically do the same with another UNTRAINED Basenji!! NONSENSE!

I mention this just to illustrate how engrained it is in many Basenji enthusiast's and owner's, this notion that it is impossible to train a Basenji to be safe off the lead.....they will ALL apparently bolt uncontrollably if allowed off the leash! Pipet - at age 2, 3 and 4 was still too immature to really pay close attention to my instructions in training her to walk off the leash. Not that she would take off after everything, she would not. But she would wander and lose concentration.

We live right next door to a graveyard that is very old, not overly big and fully fenced in, with one open gate at a busy corner in a residential neighborhood with 25 MPH speed limits. We started frequenting the yard after vandals did damage and also as I was removing 50 year's of grape vines from the fence we shared in order to clean up my yard. Pipet was in charge of this endeavor as she is in charge of every big job we do around the house.

We would walk to the yard entrance, two long blocks, and upon getting about 100 yards in I would tell her to "Sit, and then to Stay", I'd hold her harness slightly and remover her lead. Then told her to "Stay" again. Then, as I believe she knows what I am saying in simple terms, I tell her she must be good and stay by me....she knows this from all of the last 5 year's as it is good to tell a Basenji to "stay by me" frequently, they are too smart not to be able to do this, they are all smart enough to be taught to stay close. After she sits for 20 seconds without getting up (this may take a few tries while gently holding the harness), she is released.....and as she is I tell her to "Stay close to me", which she does to the best of her excited ability, I keep saying it to keep her on message and tell her (as I do on walks when approaching a corner), to "WAIT" and she will stop and stand still, listening and looking, but staying (with reminders every 5 to 10 seconds), then I let her go again, and she gets...and GOT better with every try. I also use a whistle with verbal commands to COME when she gets more than 25 yards away; three short blasts and a stern "COME" and she was trained to the whistle within a week. Over a period of weeks, about 3 graveyard walks a week, I was letting her run away from me and briefly out of my sight (knowing she far from the gate and fenced in, the graveyard is also empty - and I clean up after her). I would watch her as she went and occasionally yell to her so she hears my voice....but once she slips out of sight I'd give her 20 seconds and then hit the whistle and yell COME. Three blasts and COME...and by the second or third she was always flying at warp speed straight at me (and if not I keep repeating while approaching where she is, generally spotting her quickly). After many weeks last fall doing this, as the Winter came I noticed there were almost no animals of any kind out - other than other dogs getting walked.

One night on a regular neighborhood walk, when I knew no one was coming out due to heavy snow, I gave Pipet all her commands, told her "sit and stay" and the let her off the lead, but I made her stay by me...I noticed immediately that she was doing this anyway...just the same keep reminding, just talking. I had also always told Pip to "WAIT!" at every corner when on a leash for the first year all the time, and then less as she developed the skill. As we walked off the leash she stopped at corners when slightly ahead of me...I still tell her to do so, but yes, she does it on her own. UNDERSTAND, my job (and yours) is to always watch the area for other dogs being walked and squirrels and such. I do not walk Pip off the leash at the peak of any day! She only walks off it at dusk, well before dark and never during Spring or Fall because of the heavy squirrel traffic....puppies too. When at corners, if cars approach she sits and waits, if she fails to sit I hold her harness lightly while repeating the command, she rarely needs this now, if ever.

The bottom line is that given concentrated training, MY basenji is very, very good off the leash in a large enclosed area at any time of the day. She is also safe to walk off the leash in proper, low traffic points of certain day's, this is never done without great consideration for the environment she is in. This training is NEVER considered by me to be absolute. You must constantly repeat commands to keep their attention as you know how busy they get! I do not walk her off lead in strange neighborhoods or busy areas, EVER! The adoption lady who assumed I might was utterly foolish, we are talking about Basenji's after all! If you wish, my video of Pipet is on Youtube entitled "Pipet, The Well Trained African Basenji "(Part 1 & 2). It's not a perfect performance, but it was pretty early on and she does very well! (she was also on a diet as hibernating got us a little overweight)

Haha, thanks for the videos, she is awesome! Your song you made up is pretty awesome too!

We don't have fire hydrants over here so to see that was an added bonus!

Thanks again.

She is very adorable.

Are you from Canada?

The short answer is yes, a Basenji can be trained to go off leash. If you have trained two JRTs then you already have experience teaching stubborn dogs that prefer to ignore you. 🙂 As with JRTs, some Basenjis are going to be more difficult than others. I have had five Basenjis. Two have been reliable off leash, my first one and my current one. My second female was also pretty good, and the other two I wouldn't trust, but part of that story is that I didn't work as hard with them.

Full disclosure, I use an e-collar for insurance with my current boy. He was pretty good without it….....taught initially with a long line.......but I didn't have complete confidence so I did e-collar training and now I have no doubts about my ability to control him in pretty much any circumstances. I know this is a controversial subject on this board, and I would not recommend this approach to anyone unless they take the time to do it properly and get help from an experienced instructor.

No, actually Pipet and I live only minutes away from Canada as we are just outside Detroit, Michigan USA…..Here in the land of the wayward, warring politician! HA! I am so pleased you checked out our little film, I was so proud of her! Now that it is nice out (74* and sunny), we are going to the graveyard everyday and she is having a blast chasing squirrels! She's getting better at it and I now actively fear her catching one off guard....luckily they can jump in about 5 directions at once so I am hoping we will not have face off over a critter as Pip has eaten a few birds and small gray squirrels (sadly). I cannot approach her when she is being a killer, and she is always immediately sorry and begs me to forgive her wild way's...it's really very endearing, I just hate the way the poor little bugger's meet their end, a bit rough.....

I will be posting a full 3 to 5 minute video of her doing her thing in the graveyard for you....I should have it up by later tomorrow night on Youtube. CHEERS!! >Dave & Pipet

@Callforcries:

Haha, thanks for the videos, she is awesome! Your song you made up is pretty awesome too!

We don't have fire hydrants over here so to see that was an added bonus!

Thanks again.

She is very adorable.

Are you from Canada?

Training a Basenji can be difficult. There are a lot of variables to take into context though. (You got luck guys) I have one line that would be pretty reliable and are more attached to me. However, my other line simply does not acknowledge I exist at times. So that line, I would say, would be unreliable. There are people out there who breed specifically for certain traits, such as hunting, tracking, sporting, etc. So if you are looking, please remember when selecting a breeder to search out the ones that specifically breed for the traits you want.

Personally, when I was training my boy for Rally Obedience, I found that if I moved quick enough, he focused on me rather than what was going on outside the ring-again this is from the more reliable line.

Some Basenji's are fine with cats-others not so much. Three of mine (again, the more reliable line) are okay with my cat, the other line, I wouldn't trust with a 10 foot pole.

All of my basenji's are good with kids. Shadow was older when my grandson came along and is fine with him, as are all the other basenji's that I have. They have been raised with kids and are used to them.

Basenji's can, and do, do well with training, they just need to get past the boredom factor. I would love to have more time to do more obedience and agility with my kids, unfortunately, this is not the time. But it can be done. My opinion only.

Thanks for the replies, it is all very useful info 🙂

Yes we have squirrels and foxes in our garden but last thursday during agility poppy decided she was going to chase the bunnies so she found a small gap in the fence and didn't come back for ten minutes even with four trainers and I trying to get her back. She does that probably once every three months or so.

Our cat used to play with the foxes. Seriously.

Basenjis can learn to be off leash and if you lay a good foundation of making yourself valuable to them and reinforcing sticking with you then you can probably enjoy off leash time in safe areas. That said, basenjis are unlikely to resist chasing squirrels, birds, and rabbits if they find them when off leash. So if the area you want to walk them has these distractions and these distractions are likely to bolt out of the safe area then that would be problem.

We only allow our two off leash in safe enclosed areas, have to say most of the walks are onlead. We use extending leads and lunge reins to give more freedom but caution needs to be used with these.We also have a garden that the dogs can zip around in.
When we first got Malaika we did lots of training, including recall and both dogs have perfect recall if there are no distractions, the reality is for us if there is something else they are interested in such as a rabbit, another dog, tractor then we don't stand a chance (maybe we are boring, i don't know) I used to take Malaika to a nearby park to play with other dogs which was wonderful to watch, however she ran out of the park twice and i weighed up the risks and decided it wasn't worth it.
My dream is to own an enclosed field for them

This is how I look at the on leash/off leash thing.

Could I ever live with myself if Kipawa saw something across a road and dashed to get it (bunny, squirrel, other dog), without any regard to a moving vehicle? The answer is 'no'. So, despite Kipawa being my 'shadow', he doesn't go off leash unless we're in a fully enclosed dog park, on the dikes or in a fully fenced and gated back yard.

I know the decision is a personal one, and many things need to be taken into account. I don't put anyone down for making a decision I wouldn't make. I just know that for us, it's too big of a risk to let him off leash in certain areas. Besides, I like when we do what I call 'our structured walks'. We use it as a time for further bonding and training.

I concur with Fran. Although my dog is good on recall, I wouldn't take him loose along the road. I do take him in the woods and fields, but where I have enough of a reaction time to deal with any distractions. If I am in the forest paralleling the road and close to it, he goes back on leash, or comes to heel until we are past that area.

Personally I don't like flexi leads and think they are dangerous. My niece who is a vet has dealt with many, many cases of "hit by car" when the dog was on one of these. Shouldn't happen if people are paying attention, but unfortunately it does. There can also be serious injuries…....to both pets and people........if the dog wraps his lead around someone's body or leg. Flexis also train the dog to pull, something most of us want to discourage. Given the choice, in a field I would prefer my dog to be on a long, soft, thick rope, either held or dragging, than on a flexi lead. Fortunately I don't have to choose, as he gets to go loose. 🙂

Yes, training is possible. I have had Basenjis that were perfectly ok off lead even when surrounded by sheep as ours are. However I've also had them them that are not safe off lead and would chase and probably kill anything that aroused their hunting instinct. Mine are all trained in the same way so that isn't the difference.

To quote one of our respected posters 'It works until it doesn't'

Personally, If your mother isn't keen for you to own one I would be very wary. They are so different from other dogs that she might not want to accept one.

I had 5 who I trained very easily to come to a sports-type whistle. They were 99% reliable and we never had them in any car-traffic area, but in fields or wooded areas I could let them run. They stayed pretty close to me and to each other but went on leash when near a road. Once on my dad's farm in Georgia all 5 ran off into the woods. I whistled over and over and was starting to get worried, when all 5 bolted back through the brush to us. The whistle is louder and carries further than a voice. We let current three off leash in secure areas, remote beaches; they stay close to us.

So it can be done. You must stay focused and vigilant and aware of your surroundings…and still you take a chance,however small.

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.