Basenji at the park

Hello! Our little fella is 10 months old and hugely motivated by other dogs, he LOVES to play. I know it’s just a puppy thing but it’s almost impossible to keep him focused when he sees other dogs. We keep him off lead at the dog park Because he loves to run and just doesn’t use up his energy enough when he is just on lead with us.

Please note, he is only off lead at the dog park and he only doesn’t listen to recall when he sees other dogs around cause he wants to play, the rest of the time he is very good and listens.

Does anyone else have trouble with recall? He’s the happiest little fella, but I just worry that when in that heightened excited stage, if he happened to come across a dog that wasn’t as friendly (thankfully hasn’t happened) we aren’t able to get him to come back.
Any recall tips you have outside of treats (he’s not food motivated) would be greatly appreciated.

There are a number of ways to teach a recall, not all of which involve treats, but Basenjis are notorious for being difficult with recalls. Your concerns are valid, if you don't have a rock solid recall you won't likely be able to get him back when you need to do so. Best advice is not to let him loose, but if you feel you must, be careful not to "poison" your recall command by using it when he is unlikely to obey you. Yelling "come" repeatedly to a dog is like nagging a child or teenager to do something. They learn to tune you out. So find another word to use when you know you can't enforce the command. Some things that work in a pinch.....if you can get your dog's attention at all, try running away from him. In a desperate situation, lying down will often bring the dog to you to investigate. Neither of these will work if he is busy chasing another dog.

When you are teaching a recall you can use a long line, but that is not practical at a dog park, for obvious reasons. To make a recall more solid, it is important that you always insist once you have issued the command, and that means do not call him to you in the house or other confined area and allow him to blow you off. If he does not respond, go and get him and bring him to you. "Come' is never optional!

I have little squeaky 'hearts' that I kept from destroyed toys that I can take out with me. The squeaky noise gets them to run to me (some are blow-through and can be very compact).

Have you tried real meat as treats? One of my formerly anorexic basenjis liked desiccated chicken (I never understood the appeal of 'cardboard' like meat to him). Is there anything special that he really likes (attention or toy, etc.) that might be considered 'a treat' to him? To reinforce the recall, a treat can be given every time the toy squeaker is used at home in a controlled environment so that it may still work when you are out at the park. Just save it for "really need the recall" times, though squeaking it when you are back at your car and can safely give him a treat would be a good idea.

Haha I love the running away or lying down idea, I often say to my partner we should just walk off from him to give him a little scare in thinking he's lost us, but when it comes down to it I think I get more scared at the idea of losing him than he does.

We need to figure something out because up until now when he doesn't listen, its leash straight on, which has actually become counteractive because he knows that, so now if he doesn't listen to us, he just starts dodging us so we cant grab him to put the leash on.

Basenjis are far too smart for us humans! 😅

@lokishadjie I quite chasing my B a long time ago. She can run faster and we both know it. When she is off leash and playing "catch me if you can", I simply walk behind her. She runs around a bit and then she stands still and waits for me to get to her. When we are at the dog park and it's time to go, I just stand next to the gate. She does one or two more laps around the enclosure and then she comes over to the gate. I suppose you could say that we have trained eachother. 😉

I read a great deal about dog parks. Please would someone explain what they are ? How large - sort of area (fields, grassland, mown grass, wilderness, woodland) - are they rationed to numbers of people or dogs per person ?

I'm guessing they are public areas, maintained by the local council, where anyone who lives in the vicinity can run their dogs free.

Are there any restrictions on them in these lockdown times ?

Recall is an essential part of training a puppy. Whoever said don't use it unless there is a reason, is absolutely right ! Sparingly, once taught, and it will be about 99% solid. These are Basenjis we are talking about.

I always start with treats and move on to cuddles and praise. And increase the distance the Basenji is away from you. As with everything in training a Basenji, keep 'em guessing ! And use voice. All the time - in any training exercise.

"Will I be given a bickie, a piece of sausage, a pat and a tummy rub, or just get to hear her voice praising me to the skies ? I DO hope its the sausage but I'd better go to her and check !"

Mku is pretty well rock solid out in the (small) woodlands we are allowed to frequent these days, and across fields. He must be 20 weeks now ? I started his training here in the garden as soon as I got him at 9 weeks and by the time he'd outgrown his sling and had all his shots, his recall was excellent. The sling was great for getting him accustomed to meeting people and to the forest, but now we 'socially distance' instead.

That has become a verb in my vocabulary <sigh>

last edited by Zande

@lokishadjie said in Basenji at the park:

Haha I love the running away or lying down idea, I often say to my partner we should just walk off from him to give him a little scare in thinking he's lost us, but when it comes down to it I think I get more scared at the idea of losing him than he does.

We need to figure something out because up until now when he doesn't listen, its leash straight on, which has actually become counteractive because he knows that, so now if he doesn't listen to us, he just starts dodging us so we cant grab him to put the leash on.

Basenjis are far too smart for us humans! 😅

Actually, if you can arrange to be somewhere secure that has available hiding places, going out of sight and letting him look for you can be very positive. Most are insecure about being alone, and he will likely watch you more closely if you do this a couple of times.

As to the issue of him playing "keep away", the answer to this is to keep him guessing about whether you are going to end play time or not. Try this at home or in a confined space.....hold the leash where he can see it, coax him to you (don't order him to come), and give him a treat, put the leash on, then take it off and let him resume play. Rinse, repeat. What you want, ideally, is for the leash being held up to become a signal that he will get a treat. Then keep him guessing at the dog park. Most of the time when he comes to your signal, you leash and release. With repetition, he won't know which time is the end of the play session. (when you leave the park, sometimes he gets a "jackpot" of some treat he really enjoys).

@zande said in Basenji at the park:

I read a great deal about dog parks. Please would someone explain what they are ? How large - sort of area (fields, grassland, mown grass, wilderness, woodland) - are they rationed to numbers of people or dogs per person ?

I'm guessing they are public areas, maintained by the local council, where anyone who lives in the vicinity can run their dogs free.

Are there any restrictions on them in these lockdown times ?

My local dog parks are fenced areas maintained by the Parks & Recreation Department. They consist largely of dirty sand, lots of pine trees, and very little grass. The enclosures range from 1/4 acre to 1 full acre. We have benches and picnic tables in ours. They do vary from area to area. But essentially it is a fenced area where your dog can be off-leash.

There is no limit to the number allowed in at any given time (except that Covid-19 has them temporarily shut down). We self police our own animals inside (pick up any solids, shut down any agressive behavior). It is a relatively enjoyable experience. The humans chat and the pups play. In my area, they keep separate sections so that the smaller dogs are not put in with the large ones. They do tend to play better and there is less intimidation.

The only other thing about them is children. The dog parks in my area have a set up rules which include "no children under 11" (I think it is). Two reasons I can think of: One, not all dogs are good with children and dog play can create safety issues for little ones. And two, small children have a tendency to "play" in sand... and while most of us pick up solids, it isn't exactly clean sand. If you know what I mean.

"Will I be given a bickie,"

Ok, your turn... what is a "bickie"?

@elbrant said in Basenji at the park:

Ok, your turn... what is a "bickie"?

A Biscuit !

Thanks for the explanation. I do understand the ban on young kids, having watched children playing in the euphemistically named 'exercise areas' at Crufts and other indoor dog shows !!

@zande Sending you PM with some dog park pictures and links that you can check out.

And as a total aside: THANK YOU for your exhaustive work on the Basenji registry! 👍

Have you tried doing some training with him 10-15 minutes before taking him out for his walk?

The training (sit / stay etc) will tire the brain and he'll want to sleep. But before he does take him for a walk.

He may just be too tired to do what he currently does...

@ukjason That's a good suggestion. I usually ask him to go fetch (or at least touch) the leash - still waiting for the leash to be brought back!!!! Then sit while I put it on. We can extend the session. Thank you.

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