Why all this talk about 'unpredictable'?

When I read discussions about basenji behaviour often the word 'unpredictable' pops up, usually in combination with 'off leash'.
To me, it seems the word 'predictable' is much more suitable - when off leash, the rule seems to be: "If anything looks, smells, sounds interesting, I will be off for a while. See you later!" If this happens a lot or most of the time or all the time, it's very much predictable behavior, isn't it?
Apart from that: I regularly meet owners of other breeds (jack russel, staffordshire, podenco, mixed etc.) who take a dash and don't come back for a while, a few hours, a whole night or not at all. Are we then talking about basenji behaviour or dog behaviour?
So I suggest we stop labeling these truly amazing creatures as unpredictable and take for granted (or cherish!) that they hunt and explore, taking precautions accordingly.
Kees-Jan Donkers, The Netherlands

I have to agree with you. Actually, I find Basenjis entirely predictable. 🙂 When they surprise you, it is often by doing something "good". 😉

Seriously, if you want to consider being reliable off leash, some breeds are known to be far easier to train in this respect than others. If I see a badly behaved off leash Border Collie, Sheltie, Aussie, GSD, Golden, Lab, etc. I assume immediately that the dog has been poorly trained. With a hound or terrier breed, I accept that although the owner may actually have worked very hard on training, it is more difficult to accomplish a good result, and I would not be so quick to judge. The difference, to my mind, is motivation. Some breeds have no higher priority than pleasing their owner, which makes it a snap to have a reliable response if you have any clue at all about training a dog. Other breeds don't really care all that much if you approve of their actions, and will do whatever most pleases them, not what most pleases you. So the trick is to find something that pleases both of you…...not always an easy task! And if the only reason the dog responds at all is to receive a treat, you are done the minute something that trumps that treat appears. You need to condition a response, not always the easiest thing to accomplish with Basenjis and other like minded canines. JMHO.

Kees-Jan, I really like that sentiment.

Sure there are always things that can come up that any dog owner is surprised by, but I think in general, basenjis are predictable. If you've spent any time researching the breed and then paying attention to what your basenji does day to day, there shouldn't be too many unexpected actions.

I got a big 'good' and 'unpredictable' surprise this morning: Binti was chased from view by a german shepherd and didn't come back. Usually they will walk around until we find each other again. This time she went all the way back to the car park, where she sat down next to our car, whining and moaning. I had no idea she knows which car is ours…

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