Training techniques

Hi!! I'm new to the forums and I am trying to find out as much about basenjis as I can before my family consider getting one. I have done a lot of research, however I have not found out what the best method of training is? I’ve heard quite a bit about clicker training but I’m not sure if that works for your basic obedience training? I have also seen on some websites that you are supposed to turn training into a game or competition. How are you supposed to turn ‘sit’ into a game??!!
I would really appreciate some information. Thank you 😊

Best to seek out someone that has a basenji whom lives near you. Maybe there is a Basenji club near where you live?? Remember, the Basenji is smarter then us humans

stafford morse

last edited by elbrant
SF Bay Basenjis

Hi KiwiGirl, my first Basenji (a male, congo) was completely wild and untrainable. I don't want to be negative or hopeless here, so please take this as one person's experience. Congo was treat motivated but only when he wanted to do something. Super smart and understood hundreds of words in 3 languages as we are a tri-lingual household but would do things as he pleased. Anyway I tried the clicker and it worked indoors but outdoors he was super distracted and too many stimuli for a sight and scent hound.
My 4 year old girl (Kala) is a bit better and I think the breeders are changing the genetic of the Basenji to be less wild (good and bad). I have had better luck with her but if you are looking for a lab or a shepherd level submission and trainable dog, unfortunately a Basenji may not be your breed. They are amazing dogs but you have to outsmart them and keep them busy. You have to understand what motivates them and that takes time and trust. The human Basenji owner need the training to share a life with a Basenji and not the other way around. Good luck and I am confident you will have a lot of fun.

last edited by Mosenji

Hello,
Positive training is important.
Cliquer training does work... but mine figured out the shaping game very fast.
Know which behaviour you want. Be clear and consistent with your Basenji. "You want to go outside? Not until you sit!"
Go to a local obedience trial and ask. See who trains terriers and sighthounds. I know trainers who work fine with traditional obedience breed but step back at the word Basenji!
Find what motivates your dog in terms of food and non-food rewards.
Good luck!

Training the Basenji? You don’t train The Basenji. The Basenji trains you. What did Nietzsche say in Beyond Good and Evil? WHEN YOU GAZE INTO THE ABYSS, THE ABYSS ALSO GAZES INTO YOU. Just kidding, they can be trained. It’s like playing Chess, you always have to be thinking three to four moves ahead. Fell in love with the Basenji Fourteen years ago, had two males and now I have two females. They will test you.

I have taught my female Basenji the sit command and I think I have achieve a miracle. She does what she wants when she wants and on her schedule, a typical Basenji.

I think you train them like any other independent minded breed. Essentially you have to convince them that doing what you want is great for them. There is a book which I like a lot titled "When Pigs Fly". Like most training books it makes training seem to easy! It's not but it is possible. While not devoted to Basenjis it should give you a good idea of what works and what doesn't. One illuminating example from the book is that while Basenjis scored highest among all breeds when faced with getting through a maze or over an obstacle course by themselves, you rarely find them at agility events.

Generally speaking the big issue IMO is using positive training when you don't want them to do something. You can do it but it takes quite a bit of thought.

Clicker training definitely works. It's not really special. It just gives you the ability to signal a reward is forthcoming.

@donc said in Training techniques:

think you train them like any other independent minded breed.

That is the whole point, donc ! NOT like just any other breed.

A long time ago someone told me the only way to obedience train a Basenji is in a class of other Basenjis, not with a mix of breeds.

Did that last time, no point in doing it again ! goes through the Basenji's head after the third or fourth lesson when the trainer is getting really excited and congratulating themselves on being a good teacher.

You need to keep them on their toes, vary the routine - order of the disciplines so the Basenji gets excited - wonder what we will do next !

I haven't come across 'When Pigs Fly' - I still love 'The Culture Clash' as a training aid.

But as far as day to day commands, yes, it is perfectly possible to train a Basenji but it does have to be fun and they have to want to do it !! You can make 'SIT' fun if you give them a ball or something special to play with if / when they obey. Keep something they love to play with just as a training reward.

We had a demonstration of training dogs to sniff out drugs once - the trainer rewarded the dog with a tennis ball. It loved it !

Of course you can train them. Not the easiest dog, but likely not the hardest, either. Many methods will work, but consistency is key. Clicker training is great for quickly teaching new behaviours, but I think is misunderstood. You use a clicker to indicate what you want, you teach the behaviour incrementally until you reach your goal, and once it is consistently being given and rewarded, you name it (put it on cue). You should also "generalize" the behaviour....dogs do not necessarily understand that something taught in one place can also be requested somewhere else. Once a behaviour is on cue, you do not use a clicker when you ask for it, and you should reward intermittently, not every time. (there is a reason casinos give little rewards from time to time, keeps people.....and dogs....trying to earn one!)

To give an example, my first venture into clicker training with my Perry was to go into his crate on command. I started in a small room with the crate present, clicked and rewarded for any time he approached the crate, incrementally rewarding only for a closer approach, finally for front feet in, then whole dog in, then consistency and put on cue. Total time taken: 15 minutes. We generalized so I could say "kennel" from another room and he would go there. (this is a dog who hates crates, so I was careful never to close the door on him!). I similarly taught "pick it up" by rewarding close to object, nose near object, touching object, opening mouth near object, finally he figured it out and I put it on cue.

I taught my horses to use a nose push activated automatic waterer the same way!

Sorry, this is getting a bit long, but I wanted to be clear about clicker training. And you don't actually need a clicker, you can use a marker word ("yes!" is a common one), but the clicker gives no intonation and is always the same sound, so possibly a clearer signal. "Positive" trainers use a lot of different approaches, e.g. luring the dog into the behaviour with food, or waiting for the behaviour to present (the dog sits down, the trainer clicks the behaviour) etc. Or you could just go "old school" and the dog will learn that way too, but it won't be politically correct these days.

I am working with 8 mo old (Prince) on commands. He does very well, when he wants to and responds to treats that he likes -- does not like me to use his kibble. He will sit, stay, lay down, and come...but only if he has his collar and trailing leash on and only in the house. Then he readily responds. He now will walk nicely with me, but I think that is only because he loves walks and loves me. Training has been a big adjustment for me, and he answers to no and stop when he wants to and then immediately goes back to what he was doing. He has the attention span of a gnat. Don't get on that hobby horse of consistency with me!!!! I have had it -- I have done it and I do it.

@daureen said in Training techniques:

I am working with 8 mo old (Prince) on commands. He does very well, when he wants to and responds to treats that he likes -- does not like me to use his kibble. He will sit, stay, lay down, and come...but only if he has his collar and trailing leash on and only in the house.

Sounds like Prince has figured out that he only has to respond when you have the means to make him comply. Without knowing more about your training methods and your relationship with Prince it is hard to give advice. That said, you might want to try "nothing in life is free" for awhile, perhaps it will produce an attitude adjustment! (and he would appreciate his kibble as a reward more if he has to work to get any of it. If you are going to use food rewards for motivation in training, as any dolphin trainer will tell you, it doesn't work if they are not hungry! They have to want the food more than they want not to do the requested behaviour.)

@zande said in Training techniques:

I haven't come across 'When Pigs Fly' - I still love 'The Culture Clash' as a training aid.

You should definitely look at "When Pigs Fly". I read "Culture Clash" after you recommended it. What I'd say is that they cover some of the same ground and give similar general advice on training, but "Culture Clash" is far more general and covers far more ground than "When Pigs Fly". The latter is narrowly and exclusively focused on training dogs who have been bred to make their own decisions.

For general issues like being left at home, biting, or dog aggression, "Culture Clash" is the better source. For how to train your Basenji, "When Pigs Fly" would be the ticket.

last edited by DonC

@donc Thank you - when I get home I will find it - am off now to get my new knee !!!

First off, you have to remember that a Basenji is smarter the a human. So make your play a game time. That way he or she is not trying to out game you.
stafford morse

last edited by elbrant

@zande

So sorry you have to have surgery on your knee. Wishing you the best of outcomes and a speedy recovery.

@donc Thank you ! I had a whole knee replacement yesterday and am delighted to think I will be able to walk with Hoover and Mku again !😄 I haven't been able to cross my own kitchen without sticks for what seems like months.

I have always stressed the importance of teaching re-call as a first priority with a new puppy. Hoover is 12 so no problems there but I am so glad I worked with Mku as soon as he arrived, late February.

Since I have been incapacitated, my son has been taking them to the woods for a long walk Saturdays and Sundays, and a kind neighbour has taken Mku with a Border Terrier on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Mku adores Maisie, the Terrier, and will follow her, even paddling after her down woodland streams - very unbasenji-like. She is helping to keep his training going.

He won't know what hit him when Mom is back in action !!!

@zande So glad to hear that you are on the road to recovery!! Take it easy, don't overdo it. We all want to hear that you are as strong as you were as a youngster. 🙂

As mentioned basenjis require positive training techniques, consistent consistency, mean exactly what you say (is "down" for get off or is "down" for lie down?), have patience, training needs to be fun (always use happy voice never yell or reprimand), PLAY with your basenji at each training session (read When Pigs FLy as suggested).
When you take a obedience class, never worry about the other dogs and how fast or slow your dog responds relative to them (this will require you research possible intructors). When my male was in class and we were learning the down command (for lie down), other dogs would have it in one or two sessions BUT my instructor understood basenjis and said No Worry, he'll get it - it took almost 9 months but he finally did it (patience needed).
My dogs have Rally Master titles, Master Agility title, Intermediate Tricks titles, and Barnhunt title. It can be done.

Hello again,
I like "When Pigs Fly" and "Dogs are from Neptune".
Also, look up "It's Yer Choice". It is a fantastic impulse control game. It helps Basenjis a lot. It teaches them to wait to get what they want. Do it in very short bursts at first (60 seconds!) and always end on a good note. It is a good foundation for training and it is a game that extends to meal time.
Short training sessions work better.

last edited by coldsenji

@zande said in Training techniques:

@donc Thank you ! I had a whole knee replacement yesterday and am delighted to think I will be able to walk with Hoover and Mku again !😄 I haven't been able to cross my own kitchen without sticks for what seems like months.
...
He won't know what hit him when Mom is back in action !!!

Best wishes for your being up and about as soon as possible. Getting old is definitely not for sissies!

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