Prey drive with small dogs

I have also had off leash Basenjis, none of which came to grief from being loose. However, my niece who is a vet has seen several dogs hit by cars while on flex leads. Owner inattention can definitely get your dog killed, even when "securely" on a leash!

@donc we were all set to do lure coursing this spring! I was super excited but obviously covid10 put a stop to those plans. But exactly, I was hoping this would provide the appropriate environment for her to give in to those instincts

@zande yep, basenjis off leash has yet to be a problem for me and I've had 3 now. I only ever let them off in the woods, far away from traffic.

And yes, I absolutely believe she knows the difference between prey and dog, even small fluffy dog. I don't want to take away the joy of running through the woods for her, but I can't in good conscience allow her to frighten other dogs and their owners. My job, hard as it is, is going to have to be getting her to listen when other dogs say 'stop'

I know your problem - difficult one when it is your dog who could be doing the harm rather than receiving it.

Stupid question. Is it possible for you to avoid the time of day when the fluffy bunny will be out and about ?

During Lockdown I learned never to go to the woods at the end of this village so as to be arriving or leaving between 8.45 and 9.15. If I did, I was sure to meet a bad tempered couple walking two huge ??? on leads. The poor animals were literally dragged along, not allowed to sniff or stop for anything.

I would meet them just at the entrance where there is a steep incline through birch trees and coppicing. It is impossible to see if anyone is coming up the path because of the greenery but the man always shouted at me 'Dogs should be kept on a lead around other dogs' - I never saw him before we were on top of each other as it were.

Mine never paid his the slightest heed ! They were as frightened of him as I was. LOL

But seriously, can you avoid meeting this particular dog or can you make a big fuss of her and get it through to your Basenji that this is YOUR friend and should be hers ?

and as a general note, I REALLY don't believe in 'well that's just the way basenjis are so I don't have to try to correct inappropriate or dangerous behavior' - yeah, it's going to take more time and effort than with other breeds, but that's sort of what you sign up for when you get a basenji. It's your responsibility to make sure they are respectful members of dog (and human) society. That goes for any breed. Yes, basenjis have deeply buried instincts, prey drive being at the forefront, obviously, but throwing your hands up isn't fair to them or other dogs/owners

last edited by theresab

@zande thank you for your reply! That's a great suggestion!

This behavior of hers applies to any small dog we come across, so it's not something that I can predict, unfortunately, which is part of what makes it so hard! We also go to lots of different woods, so I can't ever be positive who we're going to meet. She doesn't do it in dog parks, interestingly, but those are closed right now and all my dogs and I much prefer the woods anyway.

Aiii anyway, I really appreciate your thoughtful replies!

@theresab said in Prey drive with small dogs:

REALLY don't believe in 'well that's just the way basenjis are so I don't have to try to correct inappropriate or dangerous behavior' -

Nor do I - Basenjis CAN be trained. Possibly not using the same methods as for other dogs, but anything IS possible if you are understanding and patient

Having a sense of humour helps - - -

@theresab said in Prey drive with small dogs:

and as a general note, I REALLY don't believe in 'well that's just the way basenjis are so I don't have to try to correct inappropriate or dangerous behavior' - yeah, it's going to take more time and effort than with other breeds, but that's sort of what you sign up for when you get a basenji. It's your responsibility to make sure they are respectful members of dog (and human) society. That goes for any breed. Yes, basenjis have deeply buried instincts, prey drive being at the forefront, obviously, but throwing your hands up isn't fair to them or other dogs/owners

Uh no. You're more likely to control how children play than how dogs play, and you're not likely to control how children play. In my experience a huge part of the problem is how the dog's owner behaves. The little dog runs, which causes the other dog to chase, and then acts afraid, which causes the owner to pick him/her up and soothe him. That's simply reinforcing the "victim" behavior. It also works on the other side. A dog will chase another dog, causing his/her owner to make a big fuss of saying "No", after which they pick him up. Scolding him/her won't do anything because (a) it's attention; and (b) the dog will have no clue what the issue is.

Now just attacking dogs and/or people would be entirely different. But that not what you're describing. What you're calling "inappropriate behavior" is just dog behavior. I've had dogs who would take off and dare other dogs to chase them. The only issue with this was when some other dog joined in and blindsided them. Dog play rough. I've included a pic of one of my dogs getting bounced around by a German Shepard. This would horrify some but she didn't think it was any big deal. Dogs are tough. Even the little furry ones.

IMO opinion the saying "if you can't run with the big dogs stay on the porch" applies. If the dog can't deal with other dogs -- meaning if they're going to run and then get freaked out when they are chased -- then he/she has no dog skills and should be on a leash. Plus being on the leash will allow the owner to easily pick them up and then get freaked out when the other dog(s) jump up. (JK but that is usually how it goes).

In all likelihood your dog will grow out the chase behavior soon enough, so it's a transient issue. If you want to keep him on a leash that's your decision, but it hardly seems like a dangerous situation. You're not being fair to your dog when failing to hold the other dogs and their owners responsible.

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The problem with off leash parks is that it's all fun and games until suddenly it isn't. Which is why, IMO, you should not have your dog loose at a park unless you have a really solid recall and are paying attention to what is going on, instead of chatting to other owners while things are gradually escalating. Yes, most of the time dogs will sort out their problems and nobody gets hurt, but ask a vet and you will find that dogs can and do get injured at dog parks and at doggie daycares when supervision is lax, and even when it isn't. Multiple dog families can also experience a situation that "works until it doesn't", and in my experience Basenjis as a breed and particularly the bitches can definitely hold a grudge, and if they get into it "for real", generally they don't quit until somebody gets hurt.

last edited by eeeefarm

@zande said in Prey drive with small dogs:

can you avoid meeting this particular dog or can you make a big fuss of her and get it through to your Basenji that this is YOUR friend and should be hers ?

I haven't seen the little fluffball and her owner in quite a while (because of the virus restrictions). Crossing paths has been hit or miss as we were never on the exact same schedule. I would love to let them play and romp. I know doodle wouldn't hurt the pup on purpose, but the head shake really did frighten me. I'd rather be safe, than sorry.

I'll have to double check, but I think laws in the states require dogs that attack/kill other dogs to be put down. egads! Talk about heartbreak!

@elbrant said in Prey drive with small dogs:

I haven't seen the little fluffball and her owner in quite a while (because of the virus restrictions). Crossing paths has been hit or miss as we were never on the exact same schedule. I would love to let them play and romp. I know doodle wouldn't hurt the pup on purpose, but the head shake really did frighten me. I'd rather be safe, than sorry.

Definitely better to be safe than sorry.

FWIW A whistle is always a great piece of equipment at a dog park. You're obviously paying attention -- not all owners do -- which means you can intervene if something starts going in a wrong direction. However, sometimes you might be too far away. That's when the whistle comes in handy. One blast and everything stops, including any problematic behavior.

Something to keep in mind for the future. At the moment I think COVID makes going to a dog park extremely difficult, even once they open. I don't know how you can manage your dog with so many people in a confined area, and social distancing becomes challenging at best and perhaps impossible if you need to intervene. But eventually there will be a vaccine and/or effective treatment.

@donc said in Prey drive with small dogs:

But eventually there will be a vaccine and/or effective treatment.

I wish I shared your optimism. There is no vaccine for the common cold or HIV and a 'flu jab is often only partially effective against one kind of 'flu. The powers that be tell us there will be one - so why amn't I convinced ?

Buying a whistle to use in a dog park is all very well, but if your neighbour has been to the same store, a single blast could bring several dogs of varying breeds to your feet - all of them mightily confused. Developing a piercing whistle as a child and carrying it through to old age, guarantees your own personal dog(s) their own recall signal. Or ? LOL

@elbrant - You said "I'll have to double check, but I think laws in the states require dogs that attack/kill other dogs to be put down"

Not that I am aware of.... are you thinking about livestock?

@tanza said in Prey drive with small dogs:

Not that I am aware of.... are you thinking about livestock?

This is something that will vary from state to state. I think I'm just remembering something I heard as a young girl. I double checked the legalities in N.C, U.S.A. (where I currently live) and here there is a "one bite rule" where you almost get a pass the first time. The injured party, however, can legally pursue the recovery of their losses under the concept of "negligence". The issue escalates after that first bite and your dog could be labeled a "dangerous dog" which would result in stiffer penalties. And essentially, the laws would apply to any animal (dog, horse, etc.) damaging or injuring another's property (animal, or structure), or family member. So, this isn't restricted to livestock or other dogs, but dog's biting children, and other situations. ...hoping that made sense

@zande said in Prey drive with small dogs:

I wish I shared your optimism. There is no vaccine for the common cold or HIV and a 'flu jab is often only partially effective against one kind of 'flu. The powers that be tell us there will be one - so why amn't I convinced ?

Buying a whistle to use in a dog park is all very well, but if your neighbour has been to the same store, a single blast could bring several dogs of varying breeds to your feet - all of them mightily confused. Developing a piercing whistle as a child and carrying it through to old age, guarantees your own personal dog(s) their own recall signal. Or ? LOL

You're unduly pessimistic about a vaccine. There isn't a vaccine for the common cold, but the common cold is caused by over 200 different viruses, and those are from different families (rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, adenoviruses, etc.) In the case of the novel coronavirus there is only one virus, and it's slowly mutating at that. Plus, given the relatively mild symptoms, how many people would get a cold vaccine if available? Only half of people get a flu shot.

You're also correct there isn't a vaccine for HIV, but no one recovers from HIV so there is no model for what an effective immune response would be. HIV also mutates quickly which is another problem. Also there hasn't been anything near the resources focused on finding a vaccine before, or the urgency for that matter. It is a bit like a war effort. (The flu issue a combination of these two issues -- multiple strains and fast mutations).

You're mistaken about the purpose of the whistle. It isn't a recall. You wouldn't need a whistle for that, and if your dog was the one you were concerned about it wouldn't help. Its basic purpose is to startle the dogs so they break off whatever behavior you're worried about. That will either end the problem or end it temporarily and give you time to physically move to a place where you can end it. As a note, at the parks where I am I'd be surprised if any dog has even rudimentary recall skills.

last edited by DonC

@donc said in Prey drive with small dogs:

the whistle. It isn't a recall.

doodle is spot on when I whistle, as it is unique to the two of us... she's also at attention when I snap my fingers. We have trained eachother...

at the parks where I am I'd be surprised if any dog has even rudimentary recall skills

LOL, yep, that sounds about right. We used to have one young girl who would just repeat her dogs name over and over again. smh I didn't have the heart to explain that her dog was entirely clueless because she wasn't telling it to do anything.

@elbrant said in Prey drive with small dogs:

LOL, yep, that sounds about right. We used to have one young girl who would just repeat her dogs name over and over again. smh I didn't have the heart to explain that her dog was entirely clueless because she wasn't telling it to do anything.

Perhaps his name was her recall? Dogs only attribute meaning to words because we teach them what we mean, and many people I know will call their dog's name and expect the dog to either come or stop what they are doing and pay attention. Either way, it is no worse than bawling "come" as the dog continues to ignore you, which I have seen many times. Perhaps she was astute enough not to poison her recall word when she knew it wouldn't be effective?

last edited by eeeefarm

@donc Thank you for that - yes I am unduly pessimistic. Put it down to age ! Over here at the moment, anyone over 70 is almost expected to succumb to coronavirus if they catch it, and we know we will be the last to receive any protective vaccine. There has been a drive to get old people to sign DNR (do not resuscitate) notices. Which I consider an obscenity and would refuse to do.

Also - I admit I have never experienced a dog park. I guess they are a good second best if there is no wide open (or forested) space available and the only alternative is pavements.

My own whistle is the recall I have used on every dog through the years. To break up a ruckus I scream. They stop, turn around and ask each other 'what's got in to HER ?' But any fracas is invariably between members of my own pack, I don't have to break anything up with strangers because the ones we meet are off-lead 99% of the time and quite happy to meet, sniff and go their separate ways. If they weren't, mine would never be allowed off-leash.

last edited by Zande

Our 4.5 y.o. B "Aten" has been lapsing into fluffy puppy nip to chase behavior of late at the off-leash dog park. I thought he had matured past it, but...

I do warn him as I see it building, "Aten: NO!", but he at times can't resist the temptation before I can get to him and leash him.

Today he bumped and rolled (and nipped?) a tiny fluffy who then screamed bloody murder for a minute or more. (Aten has never hurt another dog beyond a nip, never drawing blood or such, and he's never been in a fight or anything close to one.)

Aten immediately moved away from the puppy when it squealed and I gently approached Aten so he wouldn't dodge, and leashed him. I then brought him to a bench, told him he was a bad basenji and started a lengthy time-out.

I had immediately apologized to the owner of the fluffy, who graciously accepted, but then a dog park acquaintance of mine who has a large doberman started going off on my that I was not harsh enough on Aten. I tried to relay that I don't believe in negative reinforcement training beyond maybe pushing him into a sit, but for the doberman owner that was not enough. (And no, likely not enough for a doberman.)

So, now I wonder what training method I should employ in this scenario. I want to avoid shock collar training (don't I?), and I want Aten to be able to enjoy the off-leash park, but there sure are a lot of irresistible little scared white fluffies around of late...

(I have over 20 years of experience with the breed, and Aten is tightly bonded and does get it when verbally chastised and will behave for several days at least after disappointing his master, but lately he's lapsing back into the prey drive when encountering fearful puppies. Very frustrating.)

Any thoughts on training/correction approaches?

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