How to Reward Them???

Hello Basenji Lovers

We have just got a brilliant new Basenji Puppy called Bali (he was born whilst we were out there on holiday) who is 10 weeks old.

We are trying to take the reward don't punish approach but wanted to ask some ideas on what they actually like!!? He doesn't seem to like being petted or patted on the head, so saying "good boy" with a pat just gets on his nerves and shakes us off. He also goes off treats very quickly whether that be chicken (prefers M&S to Tesco), Beautiful Joe's ethical dog treats (bored of them now, certainly won't entertain eating half of one, not worth it) and apple, loved it the other day now it's just fruit....

I am sure some of your have found what they like, reinforcing good behaviour is much easier if they actually like and want something, any ideas will certainly be appreciated.

Thanks BD

It's very early days, your pup is getting used to you and may not crave your praise as yet. It takes time to build a bond so that he will crave your praise or your touch. If he pleases you, certainly tell him he's good in an enthusiastic voice, whether he initially responds to it or not. As far as treats are concerned, don't overdo it. Reserve them for when you are teaching him new things. He's young, you don't want to over feed him with things that may not be the best nutritionally. That said, people often use tiny bits of hotdog or cooked liver when training, but that type of reward should be used sparingly. My boy liked little bits of carrot or even dry kibble, but again I would use such things while training new behaviour, then only occasionally for things that are already understood.

Lately we seem to have had a lot of people on here with pups about that age that aren't all that interested in food. Curious. Every Basenji I have owned loved to eat!

last edited by eeeefarm

Cheers EF, you could be right that he is just up for exploring and not yet needing praise, i thought the bribe would help. Currently he is house bound as he only had his second injection yesterday so 6 more days to go before he can go on walks properly, any luck the new exercise will make him hungrier (for both food and affection). I'll consider the rationing of treats, currently everything is a new trick, mastered sit very quickly, certainly doesn't like the idea of staying yet and I can actually use it as a trigger word to come!!

@balidad He is still young, so things will change as he grows and matures. Over time you will find out what his primary drivers are. With some dogs it’s food, with my girl it was food, heat (usually sunny spots) and comfort. With my first boy he liked some treats but his primary drivers were walks and exploring. My third and current boy is the same, he loves walks and exploring first, then play and toys with food a distant third place.

In the winter we can’t walk as much so we substitute with Creative activities. One of which is the “hunt” where I get a high value treat and place small pieces of it around a room while he is not there, then tell him to “go find” and he sniffs everything until he finds them and eats them all.

A good tip is to find the one or two treats they like the best, save these for only the best behavior / reward and use very sparingly, maybe two or three times a year. When the dog gets older there is a good chance you will need to get meds down them when they don’t much want to eat, these high value rewards then become very useful. Freeze dried liver and chicken treats are usually very popular and are natural.

Many other dogs are driven by praise, basenjis usually seem to be more focused on activities. I tend to grade each in my mind to keep track. For my current boy, parks with lots of wildlife like squirrels and other dog smells are a level 10 walk lol, more boring parks are lower. A living room treat hunt is about a 7, a treat as a reward is only about a 5.

With my food driven girl, fresh cooked chicken or steak was a level 10, a walk on a cooler day was only around a 3-4, a hot sunny walk was a 7-8.

Squirrels, rabbits and groundhogs always seem to be level 10s lol but be careful as skunks are also. It’s their natural instinct, while I can’t have them wandering off chasing, I can improvise. We have an electric remote control model car which is improvised into a squirrel, he chases that in the back yard sometimes. Lure coursing is also ideal for a basenji but make sure it is safe.

Over time you will find out what drives him, use the info to keep him stimulated, content and happy. Also they are independent dogs, they are very affectionate when they get older but don’t like to be overwhelmed with affection when they are younger. When people come to the house I tell people to ignore the dogs, that way they become curious and ok about visitors. A visitor that tries to get friendly is treated with suspicion. As they get older they will become much more affectionate and bonded if you keep them content.

last edited by Dagodingo

As others have mentioned, he's too young to be working about this. Give him at least another two weeks, more like four or six, before you can expect to use rewards like this. At this point you're pushing on a string. Once he gets a little older I'd have lower value treats -- Charlie Bears or even kibble -- for run of the mill treats.

I'm a boring broken record but ten weeks is too young for a placement. They're just not ready for such a huge transition. And your potential mistake is in letting him know that you'll negotiate with yourself -- meaning if he rejects one thing you immediately come up with something else. You do not want him to reach this conclusion! LOL

Most dogs like either treats or toys, sometimes both. But I've personally never known a Basenji who likes toys more than treats. Usually they are super food oriented. So your basic idea is sound. You may just be a bit premature.

Using rewards rather than punishments is definitely better, though sometimes it takes some thought to figure out how to do this when you're really looking at stopping a behavior. For example, I have never come up with a good way -- other than age -- to stop a Basenji pup from lunching on shoelaces. If you have an idea let me know! 😉

It's important, IMO, to establish some ground rules about what is "legal" and what is not. It's completely confusing to a pup if they are allowed to do things that later become a "no-no". Of course you never punish an animal for doing something when they don't even know it's not allowed, but neither do you let them entertain themselves doing something you don't wish them to do. So, physically remove the pup from unwanted activities and substitute something else, e.g. if they are chewing on your furniture it isn't always enough to redirect to a chew toy. First remove pup from furniture, then offer chew toy, and if he goes back to the forbidden item, insist it is not allowed. You have to be more persistent than he is, which can be a test of your patience, but nothing worse than being inconsistent in what you allow. Lots of praise when he chooses correctly! And IMO, it's just fine to teach a dog that "no" means stop whatever you are doing, and remove him from whatever it is, but again, be consistent.

By the way, "no" is an important word. If it is always enforced (and that doesn't mean being abusive, just not allowing the behaviour) it will be understood and may one day save your dog's life when it prevents him from doing something potentially harmful.

last edited by eeeefarm

@balidad I also have a ten week old puppy - and before fetching him I went on-line and bought a puppy sling. It is WONDERFUL - I went a bit further and paid an extra fiver for one with a stiff bottom and a draw-string net. He sits in it (once you can get him in and pull the draw-string up!) and watches the woodland go by while my old lady hunts free and roams around with her Spaniel buddy. The Spaniel is owned by a lady I walk with most days.

I couldn't ask the older lady to forego her free runs in the local forest so the sling is a wonderful option. He is meeting scads of people who are all helping socialise him and is fascinated by the myriad shapes and sizes of canines we meet.

He is fast learning the places we stop for treats (and to give Mom a rest !). The treats they get are simply pieces of kibble from their normal diet. I scoop out the days ration and the 'treats' come out of that - so neither of them gets any extra throughout the whole day.

Talk to your puppy and get him used to your voice so you can control him when he is ready to accept a modicum of control (don't hold your breath !)

What is his registered name (parents and birthdate) so I can add him to the Basenji on-line pedigree database. Then you can add a photo as he matures. The address of the database is in my signature block.

last edited by Zande

@donc said in How to Reward Them???:

For example, I have never come up with a good way -- other than age -- to stop a Basenji pup from lunching on shoelaces. If you have an idea let me know!

You could buy a pair of shoes with velco (sp) fastening, at least for use when you are with the puppy !
Or live in Sketchers as I do ! Excellent for the back and I'm sure they are not restricted to this country.

Have you talked to his breeder about this? That should be your first go to.....

WhenI first brought Mini home, she was very shy, a little distant and was not much into affection. Since being around her brother and sister she has become the opposite. She love to curl up next to me, get in my lap and asks me to pick her up lol. She is a very sweet girl. Just be patient continue to show love and affection and I’m sure your baby will acclimate quickly. Good luck!

@donc said in How to Reward Them???:

a good way -- other than age -- to stop a Basenji pup from lunching on shoelaces.

put them in the closet and shut the door... 😉

@zande said in How to Reward Them???:

I also have a ten week old puppy - and before fetching him I went on-line and bought a puppy sling.

Did I miss the "new puppy pictures"?

@zande said in How to Reward Them???:

You could buy a pair of shoes with velco (sp) fastening, at least for use when you are with the puppy !
Or live in Sketchers as I do ! Excellent for the back and I'm sure they are not restricted to this country.

But this is shaping MY behavior and I was hoping to shape THEIRS! LOL

@elbrant said in How to Reward Them???:

put them in the closet and shut the door... 😉

The puppy or the shoes? LOL

@elbrant No, because I haven't posted any. Someone told me ages ago that Copyright of posted pics passed to the Forum. As a photographer I am not about to lose Copyright or to sacrifice it without gain !

I haven't taken many photos of Mku, only ones to show my son how well Hoover has accepted him. She now shares a bed and they curl up together. She has been the only dog in the house for about 7 months since her older brother died. I figured she would bond with a boy puppy but the first couple of days he usurped her bed so I bought her an identical, larger one and come down in the mornings to a yodelled greeting from the puppy as he peers out from beside her !

last edited by Zande

@donc said in How to Reward Them???:

But this is shaping MY behavior and I was hoping to shape THEIRS! LOL

But Donc, have you not learnt that in life with a Basenji, you have to adapt to them far more frequently than they do to you ? Take the easy road - shape to fit them. Buy Sketchers ! LOL

@zande said in How to Reward Them???:

@elbrant No, because I haven't posted any. Someone told me ages ago that Copyright of posted pics passed to the Forum. As a photographer I am not about to lose Copyright or to sacrifice it without gain !

How this works depends on the site. (No idea how this site works). The easy work around is to post the photos on a site where this isn't the case and just post the link to them. I do understand why sites like this may do that: They may not want your pics but they also don't want a fight if someone else downloads and uses them.

I'm always amazed that people post on Flickr and similar sites for exactly the reason you're expressing.

last edited by DonC

@Zande - “in life with a Basenji, you have to adapt to them far more frequently than they do to you?”

Lol! You got that right! By the way- I have the slip-on Sketchers for walking my B - and yes they are comfortable!

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