Walking

Hi, my basenji mix (yellow lab, pit) is always on high alert on our walks. He is neutered, so I know he isn't looking for a female. When I say he's on alert, I mean he's constantly sniffing at the ground, ears pulled back and body stiff. He is wary around strangers -unless you give him food- and loves to chase things. He may of caught a scent of an animal, but the thing of that is I change different routes to see if I can get him to actually enjoy the walk, but he always reverts back to that defensive mode.
His tail also straightens out (it's usually curled to the left) and the hair on it stands up like how a frightened cats does. Is there anything I should do? I find that his leash training is still in progress because he just loves to tug and pull to get me to run with him so I've been focusing on trying to get him to at least walk at a normal pace.
I have tried giving him treats and water on our walks, but he doesn't accept them. He just kind of brushes me off and instead looks around as if trying to find something.

He sounds like he is fearful, why I don’t know. I would recommend teaching him how to walk properly like a show dog. If he is fearful he may not see you as the leader.

I'm not at all sure that neutering would stop him from looking for other dogs. Changing the walking routes would only mean a change in what he is sniffing. It seems to me that you have a worried dog which is shown by his posture. There are two things here - the sniffing is quite normal. When I walk my Basenjis they are constantly sniffing as they walk and stopping at places where the scent is strong - it is part of their enjoyment in the walk. The defensiveness is another matter. I have never found that treats are useful in training my dogs (I acknowledge that this doesn't apply to all Basenjis) particularly if they are anxious. Have you tried a training halter to help with stopping him from pulling? A good behaviourist might be able to help you with the anxiety and perhaps the training could involve some calmer dogs as well. You don't mention his age but I'm assuming he is a puppy as you say you are still leash training?

My 3 year old male neutered Basenji has similar behavior. Like most basenjis he has enormous front body strength, he is very strong and it can be like a tractor pull when he is focused on something (especially other dogs). His hackles go straight up. We tried many different harnesses and have been very satisfied with the brand an animal behaviorist recommended, which makes the tugging factor less hard on me and on his body. We live in the city and there are so many triggers that affect him. We walk past many dogs, and a leashed Basenji is a tense Basenji. Other breeds can ignore the “other dog” factor, but ours cannot. I seek out alleys and quieter streets where there are less encounters with other dogs. When I see a dog being walked ahead, I cross the street. My dog also sniffs everyyyyything. I’ve come to think that it is the stimulation he craves and that it is positive for him. It can make you crazy because there is constant stopping. I have to be pretty zen to let him sniff for as long as he wants. I’m not always in the mind set for the amount of time it takes him satisfy his sniffing needs, but most of the time I go with it.

Sounds like it might be normal. Would be useful to see a video.

@ktiefen1
Lol about your sniffing comments. My 13 year old female basenji is exactly the SAME! A walk that should take 30 minutes - takes an hour because of her sniffing. She is not crazy about other dogs since she was attacked by a large black lab. She is also on high alert with her MOHAWK UP when other dogs are around.

All of what you describe sounds pretty typical. Maybe a good harness designed to stop pulling would help make him more managable on walks. Don't forget - he will assume the role of pack leader if you do not. I would try to find a way to get his attention to "look at me" and take direction (via really high value spectacular treats or a beloved toy). An obedience class (and the excercises required) might help.

My girl did the same thing until I realized that it stopped after she went to the bathroom, she liked to go in specific places and she would drag me to her spot, go and then she walked normally, it took a little time to put the pieces together and it was consistent

We always have to be alert when walking out basenji mix because if she sees a squirrel or a deer or anything I literally think she could pull me down. It's the thing that has absolutely been a game changer for us is a halter leash called sensible. I think I paid in the neighborhood of $18-$22 for it and the company helped me make sure I was getting it on her correctly. It is absolutely not anything that's cruel but I will not go walking without it it has changed everything for us and now my walks are so pleasant. You should try this all means. Good luck

@abbyh said in Walking:

get him to actually enjoy the walk

Sounds to me he IS enjoying the walk. If you want him to just walk on a leash, not pulling at all, I suppose that's possible. I am sure there are other basenjis owners that can train there dogs to not do these things, but I do not. I don't walk mine down the sidewalk very often, because the reason I walk them is for THEM, not me.

Figure out why you're walking your dog, if it's a situation where you need 'obedience, I can't help you, sorry.

Just remembered, when I'd walk my basenjis at dog shows, they did walk with their heads up when out side the show ring. The only thing I can think of is that there was so much going on, they walked with their heads up because they were excited? Maybe it was the show collar? Maybe walking in that situation was for ME, and I trained them to do that, not sure. I don't know.

@rugosa Yes, re heads up. My dog is in sentry mode, scanning things close and distant. And since they can turn their heads so far to both sides, I think they get a very big picture of their environment

@kembe
My friend say that the "sniffing" the dogs do in their walk is "FACEBOOK FOR DOGS!" - lol

Mine never stop sniffing - watching Hoover quarter the ground always makes me laugh. I am lucky though, I drive to the forest, open the tail gate and out they jump. A short whistle and they change direction instantly. I like to vary the walks so we seldom go the same paths twice in the same week. Weekends I do hitch them as we approach the carpark cos they are over friendly and over curious and other cars might yield a treat ! But today, for example I let them run and and hide under the car out of the rain until I caught up and opened so they could jump in.

There is no way I could cope with them on a lead although they do both walk well without pulling if someone else takes them out. That will happen more often through July cos I am having total replacement hip surgery on 29th June !!! Once I can walk again, I could take them on the leash - but why bother ? They enjoy their freedom, get along fine with all the dogs we meet and with their humans.

In the past, I have used a 'gentle leader' on dogs who pulled on their way in to a show venue. They work very well - NOT a halti cos they can damage the dog. Gentle Leader - and I know you can get them in USA cos that is where I got the idea.

@zande
Good luck on the hip replacement. Speedy recovery!

I took him to a dog training class and asked the trainer about his behavior. He assured me that his "defensive mode" was just him being protective and curious. My dog is toy driven, so he advised me to distract him with a toy or pet him to let him know that everything is okay. Thank you guys for the comments! I have invested in a harness, and I've noticed that he seems to walk with more ease when wearing it. He still sniffs around (but from what I've read from the comments, it must be pretty common).

@zande
Best wishes for a successful hip replacement and speedy recovery!!!

@zande Yes, good luck on the surgery. Here the results are excellent and it's now done as an outpatient procedure. Show up in the morning and you're home by noon. The surgery sounds scary -- and it is -- but the surgeons really have it down.

Note that the replacement part weighs more than the original, so don't fret if you gain a couple of pounds!

Thank you for all the good wishes ! Some local hospitals get you out the same day but they may have to control my rat poison intake (blood thinner - Warfarin (Coumadin ?)) Anyway I am hoping to be home after two nights maximum.

@donc said in Walking:

Note that the replacement part weighs more than the original, so don't fret if you gain a couple of pounds!

Bless you for giving me an excuse !

@abbyh said in Walking:

He still sniffs around (but from what I've read from the comments, it must be pretty common).

Absolutely, completely normal for dogs to sniff the ground, each other and their owner's breath - Just checking !

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