Recall - selective deafness!
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  • D

    Hello, does anyone have any advice/tips for recalls? My basenji of five years is becoming increasingly stubborn and will only come if it suits her. If there is another dog, person, animal, she will completely ignore me regardless of how delicious any treat I'm tempting her with may be! This is very frustrating and worrying, if I don't know the other dog.

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  • That is a challenge we all have with this breed…. reason many of us always keep them on lead

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  • http://www.dogwise.com/ItemDetails.cfm?ID=dtb810p

    this is the best advice i think there is on the subject; the author has or has had Afghan hounds. however, i've never been able to obtain a 100% recall on a basenji. And that includes my beloved Digital the brindlewonderkid with 30+ titles to his name.

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  • Can attest to the above posts. My statement may spark a huge controversy but I don't believe 100% recall is a possibility with this breed…..totally my opinion but I just don't!

    And I'm not help in trying to improve recall because well, let's face it...I have an Oakley

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  • i will say the more you call your dog and she does not respond, the more you are diluting the command. (personally, i have a hard time remembering this when i'm out with my dogs.)

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  • What works for us is calling the other dogs name, or whispering it.

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  • A couple of observations/suggestions. Don't call your dog when you can't take steps to enforce a recall. If they don't come, go get them, then reward. Otherwise you are teaching them that a recall is "optional". If you don't particularly care if they come, or are not in a position to enforce the command, use another word, e.g. "here" when you don't care, "come" when you do.

    I have had two Basenjis with excellent recalls. My very first, because back in the day I didn't know you couldn't treat a Basenji like any other dog, and my current, because I have the means to enforce what I say. I know this is not a popular approach, but he wears an electronic collar when he is loose in an unfenced area, and yes, he is 100% (at least so far, tomorrow of course that could change).

    In the house my Basenjis normally have never worn collars. If I asked them to come and they didn't, I went and got them. Consequently, they seldom ignored my call when I used the word "come", although the recall may not always have been as swift as I would like. As long as they complied, I put up with tardiness. A really nice, prompt recall would intermittently earn a food reward. Any recall, no matter how nonchalant, will earn praise.

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  • I agree with eeeefarm - if you don't enforce the recall it is not going to work. That being said when outside the yard, mine are ALWAYS on a leash.

    I play recall games with mine a couple of times a week and have had very good success. One simple game is "come-and-get-it" - the dogs are in a sit-stay and I walk away and simply call them and reward when they arrive. This is played at various distances and around corners of rooms, and for varying lengths of time before I call them. The other fun game is "hide-and-seek" - similar to the first but I hide in closets or behind doors (or when in the yard hiding behind a tree or bush). The treats have to be high-reward treats however and work best if they only get this particular treat when playing these particular games. They respond both to my call and to a dog whistle (for in the yard).

    The other suggestion I have is to take the AKC Canine Good Citizen class if one is available in your area. The coursework is excellent for training your dog how to approach other people with dogs, how to approach strangers without dogs, or have a stranger touch the dog (as for conformation or getting measured for events) as well as other obedience items. I recommend the class even if you don't care about receiving the CGC certificate (to pass the course your dog has to sit with a stranger while you leave the room for 3 minutes and that is really tough).

    But you have to constantly reinforce your training. Once you've taken obedience classes you need to keep "practicing".

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  • K

    Pure by accident I discovered a great recall tool: a thin plastig bag for the freezer, to carry my treats. It makes a lot of noise, even when I touch it lightly in my coat pocket. Lela and Binti have come to associate the sound with a treat and therefore run to me (usually). It even works at more than 100 yards: I wave the bag above my head and make noise with it.

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  • D

    Thanks for all your advice.

    Unfortunately she has never been particularly bothered about food so it is difficult to tempt her back. Even at puppy classes she was more interested in the other dogs than cheese, sausage, tripe etc . I had another Basenji who was trained the same way and he would come and even walk to heel off lead!

    For the most part, it isn't a huge problem as we usually walk in doggy areas where most dogs know each other but it does worry me in case another dog doesn't take to her confident approach. We also have a puppy and I don't want the two of them running over to other dogs.

    Our puppy (vizsla) starts puppy classes tomorrow. The teaching method is new to me in that it isn't rewarded with food but based on the dog respecting/wanting to please me. I'll see whether it might work on Leela too but I can't imagine a Basenji responding to this!

    I'm not sure about the electric collar, although I have seen that they can be very effective as one of our doggy friends, a ridgeback, is currently sporting one and has become very obedient! Interestingly the ridgeback does seem somewhat similar Basenjis in that they are quite stubborn and aloof!

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  • @doodle:

    I'm not sure about the electric collar, although I have seen that they can be very effective as one of our doggy friends, a ridgeback, is currently sporting one and has become very obedient! Interestingly the ridgeback does seem somewhat similar Basenjis in that they are quite stubborn and aloof!

    I would never recommend an e-collar to anyone unless they take a course in the use of it. Incorrect use can cause lots of problems, but trained correctly it is a good safety device, IMO, if you want to have your dog off leash. I took my time teaching Perry, and let him trail a long line the first time I took him to an unfenced area, but he soon proved reliable on recall as long as he has the collar on. Usually I don't need to use it at all, but in case of an unexpected cat or deer or skunk, I have the means to keep him out of trouble. He has never shown any fear of the collar, and if I do use it at a low setting to "remind" him (seldom for recall, most often for "leave it"), he just gives me a look that says "oh well, if you insist", and does what I have asked him to do.

    As I mentioned, e-collars are not in favour on this board, and are not legal in some countries. Unfortunately they are easily misused, and can certainly be abusive in the wrong hands, as can most training devices.

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  • I agree with Chealsie508 in that a 100%, instant recall isn't likely possible. Sounds like the personality of your current one is a little less amicable than your last basenji.

    Not being interested in food is a problem. I kind of feel your pain as my dog is more dog-oriented than food-oriented….so recall is all fine and good until a new dog comes along - then it's more of a challenge. Every dog has their weak spot though; squeaky toys? love of the chase? being petted? strange noises or objects?

    What I found helpful (as I do walk with my dog off leash) is having three or four separate recalls each a different "level" if you will. In addition to an emergency 'get here now' recall. That way if one doesn't work you aren't out of tricks so to speak. The first one I do is more of a soft sound as in 'where are you, could you come here', the second one is a soft high pitched "c'mere" (like a playful request) the third one I have is forceful "Beo" and then an angry "ahh sound" - and the emergency recall is a loud,clear forcefully yelled "come". That one isn't optional. Hasn't failed me to date, but if he were to ignore that one back on the leash he'd go until we could reinforce it again.

    Depending on the personality you might be able to run away or hide to coax them into coming back. Rewards with high-interest food is what I use, and it works, but obviously that won't work for you. Keeping your dog slightly hungry before practice might help with this. Being able to call a dog based purely on respect is all fine and dandy (and necessary I might add), but for an emergency instant recall you need something more convincing. Even k9 police dogs don't operate purely on 'respect'. I'll admit that I do bribe my dog, but it's been worth it.

    Never tainting that particular recall is super important. Having extra recalls comes in handy to help with that. However, my dog is fairly Beta and we've been working on this for years to the point where it's just second nature at this point. Clicker training helped immensely in the beginning. Positive repetition is essential for them to react instantly when there really is a potential emergency; like being charged by a bull, or running with another dog towards a highway.

    With that being said I doubt there are few basenjis out there that would be able to walk off leash perfectly while on the side of a busy highway. Location is probably the most important decision to be made. There are only a couple of really dangerous scenarios I can think of - cars and weather related issues (like falling through the ice) so if those can be avoided it helps. Along the way there will be screw ups, and it's best when it's not a screw up the one time where you actually need it.

    Would be curious about the effectiveness of the electric collar.

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  • First Basenji's

    I have employed the sound of a whistle, not from me and not the 'silent' one (though it does work well). It is a silver metal one and I 'associated' the sound with a grand piece of meat! Originally I had my hound dog trained to the whistle as she got left over pork loin a long time ago, and if a dog is food oriented, it works like a charm-to this day. Now, you said your Basenji was not food driven. Try to practice this just before dinner with a really high value food that she likes. Set up circumstances for a successful recall, and only when you KNOW she will come, then you add distractions-distance, in a back yard, another dog(may take a few weeks, but she will get the idea) OR, does she particularly like a toy? You actually can use another dog as a 'reward' but I won't take the time right now to describe it. I was told by a MasterTrainer "The only limitation is your imagination" but then, he never did have or even train a Basenji….:)

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    Food has worked wonders for Anubis, but for her recall she also greatly improved as a puppy when I discovered the best thing to do if she ignored me was to run in the opposite direction. Then her prey drive comes into play and she starts chasing me. Other games help, such as hide-and-seek…
    She's not 100% either - I don't believe any dog ever is - but if she ignores me, I just keep moving away. When I'm nearly out of sight, she comes running. Of course, this means I never, ever let her off leash in any area where she could be in any danger (which I think should be rule number one anyway).

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  • @AnubisTheBarklessDog:

    if she ignores me, I just keep moving away. When I'm nearly out of sight, she comes running.

    This is the best strategy. Unfortunately most people chase the dog, who then merrily keeps going, convinced that his owner is accompanying him on his adventure. It's difficult to go the other way, but if you can possibly discipline yourself to do it you have a better chance of getting your dog back, particularly if it's one that likes to play "keep away". Another trick that usually works: lie down on the ground. Generally your dog will come to see what's up with the unusual behaviour, giving you a chance to get hold of him.

    Of course, if your dog is in hot pursuit of something all bets are off! (which is why I use the e-collar. It's pretty hard for the dog to ignore)

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  • D

    Thanks for all your suggestions. Funnily enough, the last resort which usually works is for me to run in the opposite direction, shouting 'bye'. I just look like a bit of an idiot doing it! I think I will try, as Buddys pal, suggested, training her just before dinner! At least then I know she will be hungry.

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  • @doodle:

    Thanks for all your suggestions. Funnily enough, the last resort which usually works is for me to run in the opposite direction, shouting 'bye'. I just look like a bit of an idiot doing it! I think I will try, as Buddys pal, suggested, training her just before dinner! At least then I know she will be hungry.

    Most Basenjis don't want to lose track of "their person". Mine have always tended to stick close in the woods or other places where they cannot see me from a distance. Out in an open field, they will range a bit more. I like to keep my guy guessing by hiding on him whenever his attention is elsewhere. He has a bit of a panic attack if he can't readily find me, and usually keeps a very close eye on me after I have played this game with him.

    If I were starting with a pup, once we had "bonded" I would find a secure place, wait until he was distracted, then hide and let him get truly worried before I let him know where I was. In his panic, he will normally be very relieved to hear his name, and he will remember the relief and associate it with that familiar and reassuring sound. With luck, it will help with reliable recalls when he is older.

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  • I find it very strange that your basenji is not food motivated! That's a first to me.
    Maybe you just haven't found the right treat. I've use all the typical doggie treats but for high reward I'll pull out the cooked chicken.
    Doesn't matter - use something that the dog likes - a squeakie, or rattle bag, or whatever.

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  • Get the video Really Reliable Recall by Leslie Nelson.

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