Need help with my new Basenji pup Jax!
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  • M

    We're first time Basenji owners. We got our baby boy about 4 weeks ago, who was born 12/1/15 (almost 3 months old). He can be the sweetest at times, but the majority of the time he spends his time with his mouth on us. We are having the hardest time teaching him to quit biting us. Sometimes he gets very aggressive with his biting and it can really hurt with his little needle teeth. It's like he is just out of control sometimes. It has gotten a little better, but I feel like after a month of trying to stop it, it should have stopped by now. Is this normal for a Basenji?? Someone please help!

    A little back ground... we have had him in a puppy training class for about 3 weeks now and is doing pretty good, but now all of sudden he is wanting to lunge and jump when we give him the "sit" command or the "look at me" command. He'll sit and then lunge shortly after that...normally trying to get the treat that I'm about to give him for sitting. We work from 8-5 on weekdays, so he's by himself most of the day. I do come home each day for lunch to let him out and get some exercise. We have also started him this last week at a doggy daycare, so he can socialize with other dogs and not be couped up all day. Which went really well for his first day. We do have a 14 year old mixed Yorkie, that only snarls and barks at him, basically won't let him near her, at least she tries.

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  • I'm trying not to laugh, but I so know the mouthy behavior. I had Rotties and Chows mostly, and a puppy biting ALWAYS responded to a squeak and no bite. I got my first Basenji and if I did what most trainers say, a high pitch squeak and "no bite"... SHE BIT MORE. It was like I was a squeaky toy. I called the breeder who laughed her butt off. In fact I may have posted about it here too. Sigh.

    One issue may be that they learn better bite inhibition from litter mates. At 8 wks, sometimes it's too early to have gotten the message... so now you have the chore. My advice is to stop immediately all play and ignore the second the teeth touch you. Say NO BITE loudly and turn away. Mary's site has training on sit/stay and Leave it. At least read through them. You need to consistently put back into a sit, no treats. Some dogs are SO food oriented that you have to stop using treats. One of my rotties got so excited if you had treats he went deaf (and you could see the whites of his eyes!). I switched to a clicker with him... first doing simply things, eliminating all treats pretty quick, and then none. None of my other dogs have been that insane about food (though I had a chow who, when she wanted a treat, would do her whole repertoire of tricks in quick succession and just didn't get that she got treats ONLY if I gave a command and she did it, not if she initiated).

    I am sure others here will have great suggestions. But this should get you started.

    This is great (Mary's site has training for most areas and she is simply superb)... but skip the yelp, say "NO BITE"
    http://www.clickerlessons.com/puppybiting.htm

    As for the rest, her last line says it all... a tired puppy is a good puppy. Much more play/walking/exercise will help with most behaviors.

    On the lunging.. try it at home once or twice a day.. put him in a sit, TREAT before release. On release, "good dog!" is the reward.

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  • You have likely taught him to lunge at you with poor timing. If you are going to use food rewards you have to make sure you are rewarding the right thing, which is why a clicker is so useful. Under no circumstances should he get the reward immediately after performing unwanted behaviour (lunging at you, in this case). I agree with Debra. Some dogs get so fixated on the impending reward that they can't focus on what you are teaching them!

    He likely finds the biting rewarding, and of course it needs to stop. Ending play when biting occurs is good, but if he persists, gently prevent him from biting and reward the cessation of biting with praise and resumption of gentle play. You will need patience and persistence to get your point across!

    last edited by eeeefarm
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  • M

    Thank you guys for all the tips! I'm so glad to hear that's how Basenji's are and it's not just me...lol! The whole yelping deal worked the first time I tried it and then after that it was a game to see if he could make me yelp louder!

    I will definitely implement and give you an update in a week or so.

    He did have another good day at puppy daycare, he was so exhausted and so sweet...I may have to do this more than two days a week. :-)

    ![0_1456345218773_Jax1.jpg](Uploading 100%)

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  • R

    We just bought a baby basenji about a month ago. Ours is one month older than yours. They do like to gnaw on things. As Debra mentioned, you need to teach them what no means. Don't be afraid to hurt her/his feelings, you won't! These are thick skinned dogs that need a little obedience training. We taught him no right away, first thing he learned with the chew habits this breed has. I researched the breed prior to buying and knew this was the first thing I had to teach him (outside of potty training which was a breeze) to protect our furniture and our ankles, hand faces. Once he learned what no meant we were constantly saying no and once he figured it out, he started to grunt at us because he want to chew curtains, he wants the table, he wants everything he shouldn't in his mouth. Remember yours is a month younger than mine and let me tell you, this next month you should see a major improvement as he will become much more responsive to you. We keep plenty of toys and bones for him and our other 2 dogs in a basket at the bottom of our book shelf. Now if he wants to chew he will go grab a bone, himalaya chew, pig ear, plastic toy, whatever he's in the mood for. The best part is I've taught them all how to put their toys away before bed. Our basenji will run straight to the bedroom when we tell him to pick up because he doesn't want to help the other dogs so I have to hold a treat for him or he will dart to the bedroom and make the other 2 do all the work. It's quite funny. Little brat. I work from home so I have a lot of time with them all.

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  • M

    I wish my 2 would pick up their toys! I also have a basket to keep their toys in. Every time I pick them up so I can vacuum, the boy, Jackson starts getting them out again. He thinks it's a game! 😀

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  • @Micmayhall As we say, a Tired Basenji is a Good Basenji

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  • @Radil.Andrew said:

    We just bought a baby basenji about a month ago. Ours is one month older than yours. They do like to gnaw on things. As Debra mentioned, you need to teach them what no means. Don't be afraid to hurt her/his feelings, you won't! These are thick skinned dogs that need a little obedience training.<<

    Not sure what you mean by "hurt his/her feelings". Rough handling, yelling at, etc, are not okay with any breed. A firm NO shouldn't be in danger of hurting the dog's feelings.

    And you make me feel like a failure. I have taught the CAT to put away his toys many years ago, but my dogs... no. I really should.

    However, please new folks... post where your pups came from. Their sire/dam pedigree names or numbers can be a great help. Knowing where your pups came from helps so people with related dogs can help you with known genetic issues etc.

    Even rescues, like my Cara who is from a hoarder in FL... we have a group with at least 2 generations which help us keep up with issues, and even funny behaviors like walking along the bed and flea biting. Pedigrees can be checked for health certifications and people may know. So share your dog's breeders or sire/dam.

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  • M

    Andrew,
    What did you do for the "NO" to stick?

    I wish I could say the same for potty training, but I think you have a big advantage being at home with him all day. But, just maybe, he'll start doing better this month as he gets older. He definitely seems much more responsive now, than he did the 1st month we had him.

    Thanks again for any advice,
    Michelle

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  • R

    Please do not take what I say out of context. NO means NO and dogs need to learn. Raising your voice is NOT a bad thing when teaching a a Basenji rules of the house. There is a major difference between raising your voice and being down right cruel. I would never hurt my dogs, they are not abused in any fashion, and my training methods are very effective. If my dogs were afraid of me it'd hurt my feelings because besides my wife, they are my life and I'm with them almost 24/7.
    This is backed by all my friends and family that always ask how come your dogs listen to everything you say. (They really don't they were just raised with good manners) I have a very well mannered dog that is playful. If you do not want to raise your voice at your dogs when teaching them what the word no means, that is your personal preference but to say it is counterproductive or cruel is false. I am not talking about screaming.
    Raising your voice should only be used for negative actions, for example, you should never yell your dogs name or any command such as down that the dog associated with positive obedience training as it will confuse them. This brings us back to no means no. raising your voice for the word no will let the dog no the current action is wrong. You do not always need to raise your voice but Basenjis will ignore you at times and a little authority in your voice will make them understand you are the alpha in your house and they need to obey you. Otherwise they will run you. You do not have to agree with this but my Basenji is 4 months now and he is not skittish of me for saying NO with some volume. I rarely have to even raise my voice at him anymore because he now knows what it means, he is never crated for more than 3 hours and has not destroyed anything in my home because he was raised right and understands the rules. I
    am not a first time dog owner and have never owned a dog with obedience issues, skittishness, nor aggression. I have even spoke to my vet and he 100% agrees with me to teach him this way because they are a stubborn destructive breed otherwise that will need crated throughout their life otherwise. The way I see it, I am raising him to not have to sit in a crate all the time when we are gone, while the other 2 dogs lounge around the house freely. Though that day is not coming any time soon because I can not ignore the warnings until I REALLY trust him.
    To each their own, but as I stated before a firm no, including voice volume and tone, is very effective and will not hurt your Basenjis feelings. He will move on to the next thing to chew testing the boundaries of the house. He will eventually learn what no means and you will only need to raise your voice when the stubborn side decides
    to ignore you. I also just read a book that said you should hold your dog down on its side as a young puppy until they stop squirming and then let them up when the stop. Only do this a couple times a times a week for like 2 weeks. This helps to determine whether your pup has a dominant or submissive personality and can aid you in the way you ultimately decide to train him. I assume most Basenjis are dominant personality and will squirm for a bout 5 seconds before they
    calm down. Once calmed down hold them for 5 seconds while they are in a calm
    state. Basenjis, dogs in general, are pack animals and this test will demonstrate the way the puppy acted with his mother. If he is submissive, he will let you just lay him down on his side and stays there. If he is dominant, this is how he was with his mother and mothers will hold their dominant pups down next to them until they give up. Basenjis are very strong willed and this excersiE will teach him his place in the pack and he will become more willing to comply. I have included the reference for this excersize if you are interested in the book rather than taking my word. It has proved to be very effective for me.

    Schwartz, C. (2003). Puppy training. Allenhurst, NJ: Kennel Club Books.

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  • R

    @Micmayhall
    Unfortunately, This is not a luxury that most people have. I must agree this is a major advantage as they get me during my most motivated times of day to teach them and I'm always there to correct them. This does not mean yours will not come around it just may take a little more time and you might be surprised at the strides he makes over the next month. Months 3 and 4, especially 4 is a great time to get them goin for training as they are much more likely to obey, you want to try and be sure most the house rules are set before he hits 6 months and starts lifting the leg. Kind of like children turning into teenagers at this point and may not be as easy to work with if the rules have not yet been set, but still possible.
    Sadly, business needs are requiring me to come back to the office full time in mid April this year but I am so happy I was able to be home during his young months.

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  • said:

    I also just read a book that said you should hold your dog down on its side as a young puppy until they stop squirming and then let them up when the stop.

    You are reading antiquated ideas and damaging ones. The old "show dominance" belongs in the past. However, if I have learned anything, it is to recognize when someone is not open to other opinions and take them as an insult. Rather than waste my time or yours, I just beg you to look at other books and other ideas.

    The days of dominance training should be buried. I am not saying don't ever raise your voice, just that as a training method, there are simply better ways to positively train a dog "no", leave it etc. And I'll now bow out. At almost 60 yrs old, I have spent my life learning, and then relearning when new, more humane methods came along. I continue to learn and hope I keep open to new ways until I'm gone.

    https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/dominance/

    last edited by DebraDownSouth
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  • Basenji's do not do well with "the show dominance" training methods... reward based work best

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  • @Micmayhall
    Michelle, potty training when you aren't home all day is hard for anyone. Options include restrict to a safe room with a large pan with potty papers so the pup doesn't have to go in crate or places you do not have made easy to clean. Since they can only go about an hour per month without wanting to go, it's pretty hard up to about 5 mos if no one is home.

    http://www.clickerlessons.com/housetraining.htm

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